Movie Stars: Johnson, Dwayne–More Popular Abroad?

Scarlett Johansson overpowered Dwayne Johnson at the box office, as “Lucy” racked up $44 million compared to “Legend of Hercules’” $29 million bow this weekend.

Going into the weekend, it looked like “Hercules” might become the summer’s first true mega-flop, but the Paramount and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer release beat back the bad buzz and opened above tracking that pegged a debut in the low $20 million range.

It did not help that the reviews for the picture were dcent (but not more): with the son of Zeus story scoring a 63% “fresh” rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

Brett Ratner directed the film, which cost $100 million to produce, so the picture will need to perform well abroad if it wants to turn a profit.

“Hercules” unspooled in 3,595 locations stateside, and launched in 26 international markets and approximately 3,400 locations grossing $28.7 million through Sunday.

“The domestic grosses are below what we hoped, but it was an excellent gross globally,” said Rob Moore, vice-chairman of Paramount Pictures. “When you look at how strong those international numbers were, it bodes well for the rollout.”

Moore noted that originally “Hercules” had been slated to go up against “Sex Tape” and “Jupiter Ascending,” but date shifts left if fending off “Lucy,” and splitting the action audience. Overseas, the film still has a number of major territories left to open, including in Latin America, Japan and Europe, and the Paramount vice-chair predicts it will top $200 million at the foreign box office.

“The film testifies to the continuing power of Dwayne Johnson globally,” Moore said.