BOX OFFICE: Another comic-book movie slays ‘em as ‘Kingsman’ ($35M) soars to second place

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This time around, Colin Firth (portraying Harry Hart) draws dudes to
the theater in the spy thriller “Kingsman.”(Jaap Buitendijk/Twentieth
Century Fox)

WE ALL KNEW “Fifty Shades of Grey” would dominate, as it were. But blimey, what about Matthew Vaughn’s latest upstart action flick?

Yet again, a “comic book” movie has exceeded many expectations.

Fox’s
“Kingsman: The Secret Service” opened in North America this weekend to a
robust $35.6-million, according to studio estimates released Sunday;
final numbers are due Monday, with full holiday weekend totals to
follow.

Universal’s “Fifty Shades of Grey” made hay of
Valentine’s Day weekend, natch, forcing all challengers to submit with
an $81.7-million opening — the biggest Presidents’ Day weekend debut
ever for an “R”-rated film.

Bond wasn’t going to beat bondage
this weekend. But in a smart bit of counterprogramming, Fox trotted out
“Kingsman,” a stylish spy homage that vacuumed up much of the remaining
male audience (57-percent of its viewers were dudes; meanwhile, a
68-percent female audience were too otherwise tied up with Jamie
Dornan’s turn as Christian Grey).

“This is a terrific, smart
action movie that’s primarily geared toward males,” Fox domestic
distribution honcho Chris Aronson told Variety.

“Kingsman” again
teamed Vaughn with Mark Millar, after their 2010 film “Kick-Ass” grossed
nearly $100-million worldwide. Starring Colin Firth as the Bond-stylish
Harry Hart, “Kingsman,” of course, is loosely adapted from the 2012-13
comic “The Secret Service” (Icon) by Millar and Dave Gibbons.

“Kingsman”
tips its cinematic bowler not only to James Bond but also to such ’60s
TV spy series as “The Avengers” and “The Man From U.N.C.L.E.,” the
latter which starred Robert Vaughn — the “Kingsman” director’s namesake
who for decades was thought to be Matthew’s father, till shortly before
the filmmaker’s 2002 marriage to Claudia Schiffer. (Fun fact: Matthew
Vaughn’s actual dad, paternity tests showed, is a Windsor Castle-born
godson of King George VI — the same
monarch portrayed by Colin Firth in his Oscar-winning role for “The King’s Speech.” It’s a small island, after all.)

“Kingsman” held off last week’s box-office champ, “The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water” ($30.5-million) for second place.

Now,
if he wants to make the ultimate Valentine’s Day superhero/erotic
mashup blockbuster, Vaughn can simply return to the X-franchise and make
“Fifty Shades of Jean Grey.”

FUN WITH NUMBERS

* “Kingsman”
still isn’t Vaughn’s biggest opening. That would be Fox’s “X-Men: First
Class” (2011), which had a domestic debut of $55.1-million — en route
to a $353-million global total.

* “Kingsman” has grossed nearly $80-million worldwide — almost exactly meeting its $81-million production budget already.

* Vaughn’s
lowest total as a director is 2005′s acclaimed “Layer Cake”
($2.33-million domestic; $11.9-million), which starred a future James
Bond: Daniel Craig.

* “SpongeBob” is nearing the
$100-million mark domestically and has grossed nearly $140-million
worldwide — on the verge of eclipsing the global total of $140.2-million
for the original film in the SpongeBob franchise.

* Still going
strong is the other currently big animated family film, “Paddington”;
the Brit bear has grossed $62.3-million domestically and $217-million
worldwide.

Writer/artist/visual storyteller
Michael Cavna is creator of the “Comic Riffs” column and graphic-novel
reviewer for The Post’s Book World. He relishes sharp-eyed satire in
most any form.

– The Washington Post

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