Director Antoine Fuqua's Olympus Has Fallen exceeded all expectations this past weekend with an impressive $30.5 million opening frame (pending actual results later today). That bested the director's previous best opening of $22.6 million from 2001's Training Day, but more importantly it represents the best opening from an action film in 2013 so far.
Beyond that, Olympus smashed distributor FilmDistrict's previous best opening weekend (Red Dawn's $14.3 million in November). The film is locked to become both Fuqua's and FilmDistrict's highest grossing domestic release yet.
The signs for the film weren't outright horrible going into Friday but metrics like Twitter, Flixster, and Facebook were pointing to a more modest opening.
What went right? The simple answer is that Olympus capitalized on and offered what A Good Day to Die Hard failed to last month: a popcorn action flick with an appealing concept and strong ensemble cast. Some audiences--which have given Olympus a solid "A-" CinemaScore--have lovingly referred to it as "Die Hard in the White House".
Additionally, Butler and Eckhart contributed to stronger-than-expected female interest in the film. Olympus represents Butler's best live action opening since 2007's 300.
Quite simply, the film's success may be baffling critics right now but it just goes to show that not every success at the box office requires a "fresh" rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
The next question is can Olympus hold up in the face of this coming weekend's G.I. Joe: Retaliation? The latter is tracking fairly well and should open strong over the extended Easter holiday weekend with the increasingly-reliable Dwayne Johnson and Channing Tatum headlining the sequel. Joe could cut into Olympus' audience, but the latter's strong word of mouth is a huge advantage in comparison to the first Joe not being particularly well-remembered going into Retaliation.
Olympus Has Fallen is thus far relying on audiences over the age of 25. If the status quo remains and Retaliation can successfully reel in the younger crowds, both films may be able to co-exist. Either way, Olympus has already achieved all it ever needed to... and then some.
Check Boxoffice.com on Wednesday for our Easter weekend predictions.
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