LOS ANGELES — You’re a mean one — and you’re No. 1 — Mr. Grinch.
“Dr. Seuss’ The Grinch” sledded past mixed reviews and made off with $66 million for Universal Pictures to top the weekend North American box office, according to studio estimates Sunday.
Last week’s top film — Queen biopic “Bohemian Rhapsody” — dropped to second for 20th Century Fox with a $30.8 million weekend that brings its overall take to $100 million.
Illumination, the Universal-owned animators behind the “Despicable Me” franchise, produced the latest interpretation of Seuss’ 1957 book that led to a 1966 TV special and first came to the big screen as a live-action feature starring Jim Carrey in 2000.
Paramount Pictures’ war-zombie hybrid “Overlord” was third in its first weekend with $10.1 million. Disney’s “The Nutcracker and the Four Realms” brought in $9.5 million and finished fourth in its second week. The weekend’s other major debut, “The Girl in the Spider’s Web,” made just $8 million and finished fifth.
Illumination’s “Grinch,” narrated by Pharrell Williams, gives the title character, voiced by Benedict Cumberbatch, a backstory in an orphanage and fills out the story of his foil Cindy Lou Who.
It’s the second Seuss adaptation for Illumination. Its version of “The Lorax” opened with a comparable $70 million weekend and went on to gross $348.8 million worldwide.
“The Grinch” was widely expected to be No. 1 with few other major openings this weekend, but it surpassed projections that had it bringing in closer to $60 million, continuing what’s become a trend in 2018.
“‘The Grinch’ is just the latest in a string of over-performers,” said Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst for Comscore. “‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ was bigger than expected, ‘A Star Is Born’ was bigger than expected. It’s fueling a box-office surge.”
The industry has reached a cumulative box office total of $10 billion faster than in any other year, Dergarabedian said.
The Christmas theme of “The Grinch” could sustain it through the holidays and Universal hopes it has a longer life than that.
“With Thanksgiving coming, we’re poised to have a great run through that,” said Jim Orr, president of domestic distribution for Universal. “Illumination’s created such a classic take on this beloved character that audiences will be enjoying it for a really long time.”
But big rivals loom soon, including “Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald” next week and “Ralph Breaks The Internet” on Nov. 21.
“We’ve got a lot of competition coming up for family audiences,” Dergarabedian said.