Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson and Madison Pettis in a scene from 'The Game Plan'. - Contributed
In a major upset, the family comedy The Game Plan beat the terrorism thriller The Kingdom for honours at the weekend box office in North America, the Hollywood studios reported yesterday.
The Game Plan, a Walt Disney Pictures release starring former wrestler Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson, sold about US$22.7 million worth of tickets since opening on Friday.
Universal Pictures' The Kingdom, starring Jamie Foxx and Jennifer Garner, followed with US$17.7 million in its first three days.
Industry pundits had expected The Kingdom to open at number one with sales in the low-US$20 million range, with The Game Plan kicking off in the high-teen millions. Critics were underwhelmed by both films, but underserved family audiences rushed to The Game Plan anyway.
Johnson plays a hard-partying professional football player whose hedonistic lifestyle is interrupted by the arrival of the eight-year-old daughter he never knew about. His last three movies, most recently 2006's Gridiron Gang, had opened in the US$14 million to US$16 million range.
Walt Disney Pictures, a unit of Walt Disney Co., has had similar success turning action heroes into kid-friendly stars. In 2005, the Vin Diesel comedy The Pacifier surprised everyone by opening at number one with US$30.6 million.
The Kingdom, meanwhile, stars Foxx as the head of a small team of FBI investigators who probe a horrific terrorist attack against American civilians in Riyadh. Universal is a unit of General Electric Co's NBC Universal Inc.
Last weekend's champ, the zombie horror Resident Evil: Extinction, fell to number three, followed by the comedy Good Luck Chuck and the Western 3:10 to Yuma.