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John Wick 3 knocks Avengers off the box office perch

The third instalment of the franchise opens well above its predecessors with a global start of US$92m

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Propelled by positive reviews, John Wick: Chapter 3 - Parabellum beat expectations with a haul of US$57 million in North America and hit a franchise record overseas, scooping up US$35 million.

Los Angeles

Earth's Mightiest Heroes put up a good fight, but John Wick put an end to the three-week box office reign of Avengers: Endgame.

Propelled by positive reviews, John Wick: Chapter 3 - Parabellum beat expectations with a debut of US$57 million from 3,850 North American locations.

That was enough to nab the box office crown from Avengers: Endgame, Marvel's latest juggernaut that collected another US$29.4 million during its fourth weekend of release.

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Parabellum, the third instalment of the action franchise, opened well above its predecessors 2014's John Wick (US$14.4 million) and 2017's John Wick: Chapter 2 (US$30.4 million).

The latest instalment also hit a franchise record overseas, bowing with US$35 million from 66 international markets for a global start of US$92 million.

In this third movie, Keanu Reeves returns as the titular ex-hitman who finds himself on the run from assassins. Stuntman-turned-director Chad Stahelski helmed the movie, written by series-creator Derek Kolstad. Halle Berry and Laurence Fisburne also star.

The movie was a much-needed win for Lionsgate. Despite the modest successes of A Madea Family Funeral and Five Feet Apart, the studio suffered a string of disappointments with its big-budget reboot of Robin Hood with Taron Egerton, a Hellboy remake, and most recently, Seth Rogen and Charlize Theron's comedy Long Shot.

Avengers: Endgame, which slid to second place on the US box office charts, has now earned US$771 million in North America.

It officially passed Avatar and its US$761 million haul to become the second-highest grossing movie at the domestic box office behind only Star Wars: The Force Awakens with US$937 million.

Avengers: Endgame has now scooped US$2.6 billion in ticket sales worldwide, inching toward Avatar and its US$2.78 billion global box office record.

John Wick 3 opened alongside Universal and Amblin's A Dog's Journey and Warner Bros and MGM's The Sun Is Also a Star.

A Dog's Journey arrived below expectations, launching at No 4 with just US$8 million from 3,200 venues. It's pacing significantly below 2017's A Dog's Purpose, the original film in the saga about a canine's adventure to find meaning.

That movie debuted with US$18 million and went on to earn US$64 million at the domestic box office. It became a big hit with international audiences, grossing US$140 million overseas.

A Dog's Journey also opened with US$15.46 million in 14 foreign markets, bringing its global debut to US$23.46 million.

Jim Orr, Universal's president of domestic distribution, noted that the sequel had similar reviews to A Dog's Purpose. Audiences were more enthusiastic than critics, giving A Dog's Journey an A CinemaScore compared to its 49 per cent on Rotten Tomatoes.

"The first film had incredible legs," Mr Orr said. " With the holiday weekend, we are optimistic about the run it will have."

Last weekend's final new wide release, The Sun Is Also a Star, collapsed with a disappointing US$2.6 million bow from 2,073 theatres. The romance drama, based on Nicola Yoon's novel, received mixed reviews. It earned a lacklustre B- CinemaScore, as well as a 51 per cent rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

"Grown-ish" actress Yara Shahidi stars as a brainy student who forms a relationship with a charming exchange student (Riverdale's Charles Melton), as her family faces deportation.

"It reflects the genre," Jeff Goldstein, Warner Bros' domestic distribution chief, said of the US$9 million film's underwhelming start.

Another Warner Bros title, Detective Pikachu, came in third place, adding US$24.8 million during its second weekend in theatres. The Pokemon adaptation with Ryan Reynolds as the voice of Pikachu has generated US$94 million in North America.

Rounding out the top five is United Artist Releasing's The Hustle, pocketing US$6 million over the three-day frame. Rebel Wilson and Anne Hathaway co-star in the comedy, which has made US$23 million to date.

Ticket sales are have fallen around 10 per cent behind last year, according to Comscore.

Hollywood is banking on some big blockbusters, as well as a few surprise hits, to boost revenues during the busy summer movie season ahead. REUTERS