"Ford v Ferrari" left its competition in the rearview, racing to a $31 million debut at the box office in a No. 1 finish that counted as a win for big-budget originality.
James Mangold's racing drama rode into the weekend with strong reviews and Oscar buzz for its leads, Christian Bale and Matt Damon. And audiences enthusiastically greeted it, giving the $98 million movie an A-plus CinemaScore.
"Ford v Ferrari," which dramatizes the Ford Motor Co.'s push to unseat the perennial power Ferrari at France's 24-hour Les Mans race in 1966, has been considered a rare kind of high-priced throwback built more on story, practical effects and star power than intellectual property.
Elizabeth Banks' "Charlie's Angels" reboot couldn't keep up. The Sony Pictures release opened below expectations with $8.6 million domestically and $19.3 million overseas, according to studio estimates Sunday.
Though the movie was relatively modestly budgeted at $48 million, it fell well short of the $40.1 million debut of the 2000's "Charlie's Angels," with Cameron Diaz, Drew Barrymore and Lucy Liu. (The 2003 sequel opened similarly with $37.6 million.)
Banks' version of the 1976-81 TV series gave the material a feminist spin. But Kristen Stewart was the sole widely known Angel, starring alongside Naomi Scott and Ella Balinska.
And "Charlie's Angels" couldn't best the World War II movie "Midway" in its second week. It slotted in just ahead of "Angels" in second, with $8.8 million.
That made the initial success of "Ford v Ferrari" stand out even more. The Walt Disney Co. release's opening weekend, which included $21.4 million internationally, has several laps to go before reaching profitability.
But as an adult-oriented action film with excellent audience scores and awards attention, "Ford v Ferrari" is likely to run well for weeks to come.
Estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday:
1. "Ford v Ferrari," $31 million.
2. "Midway," $8.8 million.
3. "Charlie's Angels," $8.6 million.
4. "Playing With Fire," $8.6 million.
5. "Last Christmas," $6.7 million.
6. "Doctor Sleep," $6.2 million.
7. "The Good Liar," $5.7 million.
8. "Joker," $5.6 million.
9. "Maleficent: Mistress of Evil," $5.2 million.
10. "Harriet," $4.8 million.