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Box office report: 'The Lego Movie' stacks up $69.1 million for 'awesome' debut, 'Monuments Men' steals second with $22.7 million

Everything is awesome for the team behind The Lego Movie (Cinema Score: A). The 3D animated extravaganza is estimated to have earned a spectacular $69.11 million this weekend — the biggest opening of the still young year, and the second largest February opening ever (the top spot belongs to 2004’s Passion of the Christ). The Phil Lord and Christopher Miller movie blew past studio and analyst predictions, which had the pic in the $40 to $55 million range. Playing in 3,775 theaters, most of which were in 3D, Lego scored an incredible $18,307 per location average, and, including overseas profits ($18.1 million from 34 territories), The Lego Movie has already stacked up $87.2 million.

The Lego Movie is Warner Bros.’ first animated release in three years. Village Roadshow co-financed the pic. Featuring the vocal talents of Chris Pratt as Emmet the construction worker, Will Ferrell as the evil Lord Business, Elizabeth Banks as the brilliant Wyldstyle, Liam Neeson as Bad Cop, and Will Arnett as Batman, Lego resonated with both adults and children — 60% of the audience was over 18 years old. A sequel is reportedly already in the works.

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Box office update: 'The Lego Movie' builds a $17.1 million Friday, 'Monuments Men' surprises with $7 million

The toys of everyone’s youth are on track to strike box office gold. Warner Bros.’ The Lego Movie (Cinema Score: A) pulled in an astonishing $17.1 million Friday, far exceeding studio expectations and putting the movie on track for at least a $56 – $60 million weekend.

The $60 million film from writer-directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller effectively iced Frozen’s 11-week reign (which, at $1.41 million, didn’t even make Friday’s top five). The joint Warner Bros. and Village Roadshow pic played in 3,775 theaters, and a sequel is reportedly already in development with screenwriters Jared Stern and Michelle Morgan. But as far as February records are concerned, Lego still has a long way to go to surpass Passion of the Christ’s $83.8 million 2004 debut.

Meanwhile, George Clooney’s star-packed The Monuments Men (CinemaScore: B+) had a $7 million Friday which could put the World War II pic on track for a $20 million opening weekend. The poor critical response to the film (still holding at 33% on Rotten Tomatoes) is clearly not affecting people’s decisions to enjoy the undeniably charming cast of Clooney, Bill Murray, Matt Damon, Cate Blanchett, John Goodman, The Artists’s Jean Dujardin, and Moonrise Kingdom’s Bob Balaban. Argo, another recent adult-targeted film, had a similar $19.5 million debut.

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Box office preview: 'The Lego Movie' could be 2014's first big 'block'buster

George Clooney and gorgeous teenage vampires have a formidable box office foe this weekend: Legos. And it looks like both will crumble in the face of the tiny plastic figurines.

The idea of a Lego movie seems absurd on paper. A cynical, nostalgia-based cash grab akin to Battleship exploits, right? Well, Warner Bros. and its co-financier Village Roadshow seem not only to have avoided those trappings, but created a film that transcends the medium thanks to wry writing and directing team Phil Lord and Chris Miller, who charmed with both Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs and 21 Jump Street. EW’s Owen Gleiberman wrote in his “A” review: “It may be a helter-skelter kiddie adventure built out of plastic toy components, but it’s fast and original, it’s conceptually audacious, it’s visually astonishing, and it’s 10 times more clever and smart and funny than it needed to be.”

In a box office market where Frozen has dominated the family slate for over 11 weeks (with an honorable mention for The Nut Job), The Lego Movie looks primed to walk away with 2014’s biggest opening to date.

Here’s how things might play out this weekend:

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'Vampire Academy': 5 new photos with director's notes -- EXCLUSIVE

The movie adaptation of Richelle Mead’s popular YA series, Vampire Academy, doesn’t hit the big screen until Feb. 14. And fans are out for blood…or at least any and all information about the Zoey Deutch-led film. If you’re not familiar with the novels, Vampire Academy (the first of six books) follows Rose Hathaway (Deutch), a Dhampir training to be the guardian for her vampire best-friend, Lissa Dragomir (Lucy Fry). The story comes complete with a sexy, but forbidden love interest for Rose, Dimitri Belikov played by Danila Kozlovsky. You may have to wait four more months to see how the story translates to film, but we can whet your appetite with five never-been-seen photos now. The movie’s director Mark Waters (Mean Girls) talked us through each image. Check out the gallery to read more.

If the “Launch Gallery” button isn’t working for you, click here to see the exclusive pics!

Why 'Vampire Academy' is not 'Twilight': Director Mark Waters explains

Best friends bonded by an ancient tradition — one a full vampire who ranks pretty high on the food chain, the other a half human, half vampire bound to protect her — and a prep school filled with the usual teenage dramas with a twist: You must fight to survive.

Does this sound like Twilight? We didn’t think so.

Although the film features our favorite fanged friends, the Vampire Academy series is a totally new take on the vampire legend — and a fresh face in the competitive world of movies based on YA novels. Director Mark Waters talked to EW about his 2013 film and how it will set itself apart in a crowded landscape.

Twilight was about a naive person who knew nothing of a certain world, basically discovering that this world existed and totally being indoctrinated into it and falling in love with a vampire, which is interesting,” Waters said. “It’s also different from Harry Potter in that sense. This is about two people who are deeply embedded in this world, and the audience is the one who is taking the journey of being transported and learning about it for the first time while the characters are deeply, deeply in it and trying to just live and survive day to day within this world.”

Waters also told moviegoers to get the image of brooding vampire teens out of their heads: These characters aren’t all doom and gloom.
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'Vampire Academy' movie motion poster: What does it mean?

Fans finally have a little something to sink their teeth into, a new motion poster to promote next year’s Vampire Academy movie. But the poster takes an untraditional twist on typical movie promotional art by using a cryptic animation element.

“The poster’s brilliant. That bold, striking art will grab newcomers’ attention, but is also laced with secrets and symbols that those who know the story will immediately recognize. I love that it’s so clean and simple at first glance but still gives a nod to all the complexities built into the book,” author Richelle Mead told EW in an exclusive statement. READ FULL STORY

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