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‘Blue Beetle’ unseats ‘Barbie’ atop box office, ending four-week reign

‘Blue Beetle’ unseats ‘Barbie’ atop box office, ending four-week reign

By Jake Coyle | Associated Press

NEW YORK — The DC superhero film “Blue Beetle” led weekend ticket sales with a modest $25.4 million opening, according to studio estimates Sunday, dethroning “Barbie” from the top spot after a record-setting run that left movie theaters colored pink for a month.

The “Barbie” phenomenon is far from over. Greta Gerwig’s film, which earlier this week became the highest-grossing Warner Bros. release ever domestically, nearly managed to stay No. 1 again with $21.5 million in its fifth weekend. It’s up to $567.3 million in North America and an eye-popping $1.28 billion globally.

The other half of “Barbenheimer” also continues to perform remarkably well for a movie so far into its run.

Christopher Nolan’s “Oppenheimer” took in $10.6 million in its fifth week. With a $285.2 million domestic total, “Oppenheimer” now owns the distinction of being the biggest box-office hit never to land No. 1 at the weekend box office. The previous record-holder for that unlikely stat is 2016’s “Sing,” which grossed $270.3 million in the shadow of “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” and “Hidden Figures.”

Universal Pictures’ “Oppenheimer” has done even better overseas. Its global gross stands at an estimated $717.8 million through Sunday.

“Blue Beetle,” starring Xolo Maridueña, came in on the lower side of expectations and notched one of the lower debuts for a DC Comics movie. Though earlier planned as a streaming-only release, Warner Bros. elected to put “Blue Beetle,” the first DC movie to star a Latino superhero, into theaters in the late summer, a typically quiet period at the box office.

The production price tag of about $105 million was lower for “Blue Beetle” than the average superhero film. It’s one of the last releases produced under an earlier regime at DC Studios, which James Gunn and Peter Safran took the reins of last year.

The film, directed by Ángel Manuel Soto and written by Gareth Dunnet-Alcocer, drew solid reviews – certainly better than the three previous DC releases this year (“The Flash,” “Black Adam” and “Shazam! Fury of the Gods”). “Blue Beetle” (76% fresh on Rotten Tomatoes) is the rare comic-book film to put a Hispanic cast front and center.

But it also faced some tough luck, and not just in the unexpected staying power of “Barbie” and “Oppenheimer.” Southern California was bracing Sunday for Hurricane Hilary — potentially dampening ticket sales in the region. (Los Angeles was still its top market.) And like recent releases, “Blue Beetle,” which added $18 million internationally, didn’t have its cast available to promote the movie due to the ongoing actors strike.

Universal’s raunchy R-rated canine comedy “Strays” showed even less bite. The film, with a voice cast including Will Ferrell and Jamie Foxx, landed in fifth place with $8.4 million. Comedies have generally struggled in theaters in recent years, but “Strays” had it particularly rough given that its starry cast was unavailable.

“Strays” was very narrowly bested by “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem.” The Paramount Pictures animated release earned $8.4 million in its third weekend, bringing its domestic total to $88.1 million.

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Estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday at U.S. and Canadian theaters, according to Comscore. Final domestic figures will be released Monday.

“Blue Beetle,” $25.4 million.
“Barbie,” $21.5 million.
“Oppenheimer,” $10.6 million.
“Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem,” $8.4 million.
“Strays,” $8.3 million.
“Meg 2: The Trench,” $6.7 million.
“Talk to Me,” $3.2 million.
“Haunted Mansion,” $3 million.
“Mission: Impossible — Dead Reckoning Part One,” $2.7 million.
“The Last Voyage of the Demeter,” $2.5 million.

Follow AP Film Writer Jake Coyle on Twitter at: http://twitter.com/jakecoyleAP