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Spielberg's Ready Player One dominates Easter box office

Director Steven Spielberg (wearing cap) with cast members (from left) Tye Sheridan, Olivia Cooke, Lena Waithe, Philip Zhao, Simon Pegg, Win Morisaki and Ben Mendelsohn at the premiere of Ready Player One in Los Angeles on March 26.

Los Angeles

STEVEN Spielberg's latest blockbuster topped the domestic box office over the four-day holiday weekend in the US.

Warner Bros' Ready Player One debuted in line with recent projections of US$53 million from 4,324 locations.

The film opened last Thursday, getting a headstart over its fellow weekend releases, Tyler Perry's Acrimony and God's Not Dead: A Light in Darkness.

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The virtual reality fantasy, which currently holds an A- CinemaScore and 76 per cent on Rotten Tomatoes, released internationally with US$128 million since it opened last Tuesday, bringing its worldwide total up to a solid US$181.2 million.

The film, based on Ernest Cline's novel, stars Tye Sheridan, Olivia Cooke, Ben Mendelsohn, Mark Rylance, Simon Pegg and TJ Miller.

Tyler Perry's Acrimony - Tyler Perry's 19th collaboration with Lionsgate - secured second place with US$17 million in 2,006 locations.

Meanwhile, the third installment of the God's Not Dead franchise premiered with US$2.6 million in 1,693 locations.

Marvel's Black Panther remains a powerhouse in the No 3 slot, taking in US$11 million in 2,988 locations. The blockbuster crossed the US$650 million mark at the North American box office, making it the fifth-highest release in the US of all time.

It looks to shortly become the fourth-highest release after it passes Jurassic World, which made US$652 million. Currently, the 1997 movie Titanic is at No 3 with US$659 million.

Over the Easter weekend, the Christian drama I Can Only Imagine stayed strong in fourth place with US$10.5 million in 2,648 locations, totalling US$55.3 million in its three weeks of release.

Another faith-based film, Paul, Apostle of Christ took in US$3.5 million at 1,473 locations. In two weeks, the film has made US$11.5 million.

Rounding out the top five is Universal's Pacific Rim Uprising with US$9.2 million in 3,708 locations. The sci-fi actioner, which held the top spot last weekend, has taken in US$45.6 million domestically.

On par with its first weekend, the sequel to 2013's Pacific Rim had an impressive international turnout with US$22.2 million in 63 markets, bringing its international total up to US$96.6 million.

Continuing its limited release, Wes Anderson's Isle of Dogs made US$2.9 million for a per screen average of US$17,420 after expanding to 165 locations.

Fox Searchlight Pictures' stop-motion animation has grossed US$5.9 million and looks to cross the US$6 million mark in the upcoming week. Next weekend, Isle of Dogs will spread to between 450 and 500 locations.

In total, the box office is down 21.2 per cent compared to the same weekend last year, while the 2018 North American box office is down 3.8 per cent from 2017.

However, Paul Dergarabedian, a media analyst at comScore, says Ready Player One looks to have promising playability at the box office ahead of the debuts of Blockers and A Quiet Place next week and Avengers: Infinity War at the end of April.

"After a rough month of March at the box office, down 24.1 per cent vs last year, Ready Player One will hopefully portend bigger and better things to come at the April box office," he said. REUTERS