Animated family film Home easily topped the North American box office with $54 million from 3,708 theaters in a much-needed win for Jeffrey Katzenberg's DreamWorks Animation.
Overseas, the music-infused title has earned $48.2 million for an early worldwide total of $102.2 million, including an OK $24 million for the weekend from 64 markets. The bigger winner offshore was Cinderella, grossing $38.7 million from 52 markets to trump Insurgent as well and top the foreign chart.
In the U.S., the strong pre-Easter performances of Home and Warner Bros.' R-rated comedy Get Hard, coming in No. 2 with a pleasing $34.6 million debut from 3,175 locations, helped to drive domestic revenue up nearly 10 percent over the same weekend last year. Get Hard marks the largest R-rated opening for stars Will Ferrell and Kevin Hart.
Heading into the weekend, both films were tipped to earn in the mid-$30 million range, but Home, about a teenager on the run (Rihanna) who teams up with a misfit alien (Jim Parsons), vastly exceeded expectations for DWA and partner Fox. Rihanna's star power was a big boost, and marks her first turn in an animated film.
The 3D title marks the best opening for a DWA film since Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted ($60.3 million) in summer 2012, and the third-best showing ever for an original DWA title after Kung Fu Panda ($60.2 million) and Monsters vs. Aliens ($59.3 million), not accounting for inflation.
Outside of How to Train Your Dragon 2, DWA suffered a dismal 2014. The animation studio announced in February that it took a $57.1 million writedown on Penguins of Madagascar and Mr. Peabody and Sherman, which opened to $32.2 million in spring 2014 (Peabody had solid legs in the U.S., but didn't travel well overseas).
In trying to shore up the company's future, Katzenberg recently named Mireille Soria, one of the producers of Home, and Bonnie Arnold co-presidents of feature animation.
"Home is a return to the quality that DreamWorks Animation is known for," said Fox domestic distribution chief Chris Aronson, noting that the movie will do brisk midweek business because of spring break. Not only that, there isn't another animated film until Pixar's Inside Out on June 19.
While many critics were hard on Home, audiences gave it an A CinemaScore, guaranteeing good word of mouth. Home's voice cast also includes Jennifer Lopez and Steve Martin. It skewed heavily female (60 percent), while 57 percent of the audience was under the age of 25. Caucasians made up 48 percent of the audience, followed by African-Americans at 22 percent.
Fox celebrated a victory elsewhere overseas with Kingsman: The Secret Service, which opened north of $20 million in China to jump the $200 million mark overseas and pushing its worldwide total to $328.4 million.
Get Hard, earning a B CinemaScore and costing $40 million to make, marks the feature directorial debut of Etan Cohen and stars Ferrell as a wealthy businessman who thinks he's going to jail for tax evasion, so he hires a car washer to teach him how to survive being in prison for 10 years. Alison Brie, Edwina Findley and Craig T. Nelson also star. Males made up the majority of the audience (54 percent), while 61 percent of ticket buyers were over the age of 25.
"The chemistry between Kevin Hart and Will Ferrell was a big draw everywhere, from large cities to small towns, and certainly in urban markets," said Warners domestic distribution chief Dan Fellman.
Internationally, where American comedies aren't an easy sell, Get Hard grossed $4.6 million from its first nine markets, including a strong $2 million in the U.K. And in the United Arab Emirates, it grossed $606,000, the third-best opening for a Warners comedy behind the second two Hangover installments.