"Millennium Films and Antoine Fuqua delivered a brilliant, action-packed, serious thriller with an all-star cast led by Gerard Butler, and the word of mouth seems to be terrific," said Orr. "It not only exceeded all our pre-weekend estimates, as the weekend has gone on, it's gotten better. This is the first action thriller in a while that's gotten an A-minus CinemaScore, so it's obvious that people are talking about it and enjoying it."
This one-two punch of "Croods" and "Olympus" — two movies that appealed to two very different audiences — was much-needed at the box office, which is down 13 percent from the same period last year, said Paul Dergarabedian, box office analyst for Hollywood.com.
"I was really surprised by 'Olympus.' This year, the R-rated action films have all fallen flat," Dergarabedian said, including "The Last Stand" and "Parker." ''The marketing was good. Gerard Butler — he's the real deal, he looks the part and everything. And the theme of the movie, the fact that the president is under siege — it worked on 'Air Force One.' There's something about that theme that works for audiences."
But this weekend's haul is down 34 percent from the same weekend a year ago, when the juggernaut of "The Hunger Games" debuted. It made a whopping $152.5 million in its opening, which is more than all the films in theaters combined will have made this weekend.
Among the other new films this weekend, the Tina Fey-Paul Rudd college comedy "Admission" from Focus Features opened in fifth place with just $6.4 million. But the buzzed-about "Spring Breakers" from A24 Films, featuring Selena Gomez and Vanessa Hudgens as hard-partying college girls, did well in its first nationwide expansion. It made $5 million on 1,104 screens for a total of $5.4 million over the past two weeks.