By Mack Chico
Keanu Reeves, an actor known for his offbeat movie choices, added another unlikely box office hit to his collection on Sunday with “The Day the Earth Stood Still,” a chart-topping remake of a 1951 sci-fi movie.
The film, largely ridiculed by critics, sold an estimated $31 million worth of tickets in the United States and Canada since opening on Friday, distributor 20th Century Fox said.
It was also the top pick internationally, raking in $39 million from 90 markets. Fox, a unit of News Corp, said the film was No. 1 in 53 of those markets, with Russia ($5.6 million) and Britain ($4.1 million) leading the way.
The film cost about $80 million to make, said Fox.
The North American tally was in line with expectations. It marks Reeves’ biggest opening since 2003’s “The Matrix Revolutions,” the third film in the blockbuster “Matrix” franchise, kicked off with $48 million on its way to $139 million. Since then, he has starred in a series of art-house pictures (2005’s “Thumbsucker”) and middling studio pictures (2006’s “The Lake House”).
Reeves, 44, plays the alien Klaatu, who comes to save Earth from itself. The film co-stars Jennifer Connelly. Scott Derrickson (“The Exorcism of Emily Rose”) directed.
“It’s an environmental as well as a political statement,” said Chris Aronson, Fox’s senior vice president of domestic distribution.
Critics were less impressed. The Wall Street Journal said the movie was “insufferably full of itself,” while the Houston Chronicle described it as “a stunningly misconceived folly.” On the other hand, the Los Angeles Times said the film was “enjoyable.”
After two weeks at No. 1 in North America, the holiday comedy “Four Christmases” slipped to No. 2 with $13.3 million, taking its total to $88 million. The film, starring Vince Vaughn and Reese Witherspoon, was released by Warner Bros. Pictures, a unit of Time Warner Inc.
The only other new entry in the top 10 was also a Christmas tale. The Latin-themed ensemble piece “Nothing Like the Holidays” opened at No. 7 with $3.5 million. Industry analysts had expected an opening in the $5 million-$6 million range. It was released by Overture Films, a unit of Liberty Media Corp.
Rounding out the top five were the vampire romance “Twilight” at No. 3 with $8.0 million (total: $150 million); the canine cartoon “Bolt” at No. 4 with $7.5 million (total: $89 million); and the period drama “Australia” with $4.3 million (total: $38 million).
“Twilight” was released by Summit Entertainment LLC, which is privately held. “Bolt” was released by Walt Disney Pictures, a unit of Walt Disney Co. “Australia” was also released by Fox.