"The Purge" movie poster. — Courtesy Photo
"The Purge" movie poster. — Courtesy Photo

LOS ANGELES: Low-budget horror film “The Purge” jumped to the top of the North American box office in its opening weekend with $36.4 million in ticket sales, estimates showed Sunday.

Universal's $3 million feature stars Ethan Hawke and Lena Headey as parents fighting off a home invasion during a night when all crime is legal in an America of the near-future.

It came ahead of “Fast & Furious 6,” the action sequel starring Vin Diesel and Michelle Rodriguez that scored $19.8 million for a total of $203 million over three weeks in theaters.

In third place came crime thriller “Now You See Me,” in which an FBI agent and an Interpol detective hunt down a team of illusionists performing bank heists during their shows, with $19.5 million.

Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson comedy “The Internship,” which sees the “Wedding Crashers” veterans compete with young, tech-savvy wizards after scoring an internship at Google, took in $18.1 million for its opening weekend.

Computer animated fantasy-adventure “Epic” got $12.1 million during its third weekend in theaters, ahead of sequel “Star Trek: Into Darkness,” in sixth with $11.7 million.

Will Smith's “After Earth,” which suffered a spectacular flop last week, was in seventh with $11.2 million for a total of just $46.6 million since making its way into theaters.

The post-apocalyptic sci-fi adventure, co-starring the Hollywood veteran's son Jaden, had made a less-than-stellar $27.5 million to be pushed into third place last week.

The movie was critically panned even before its release, earning a dismal 12 per cent rating on Rotten Tomatoes, which called it a “dull, ploddingly paced exercise in sentimental sci-fi.”But its dismal debut in theaters is a shock, since every one of Smith's summer event movies has opened at the top of the box office, from “Independence Day” to the “Men in Black” movies.

The 44-year-old is the only actor to have eight films in a row make more than $100 million at the US box office and 10 consecutive films over $150 million internationally.

Slipping down to eighth in the North American box office contest was “The Hangover Part III,” starring Bradley Cooper and Zach Galifianakis. The final film in the series, given a thumbs down by many critics, earned $7.4 million.

Robert Downey Jr's return in “Iron Man 3,” meanwhile, took ninth place with $5.8 million, while “The Great Gatsby,” Baz Luhrmann's adaptation of the literary classic, slipped two places, earning $4.2 million in tenth place.

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