By Steven Zeitchik
2:21 PM EDT, November 2, 2013
The insectoids aren't really buzzing this weekend.
After more than a decade of development and a cacophony of fan debate, "Ender's Game" arrived in theaters with a decent but hardly spectacular Friday. The Gavin Hood-directed futurist action movie grossed $9.9 million, including late-night Thursday shows, putting it on track for $27 million for the weekend.
Though Lionsgate’s Summit Entertainment film will come out on top of the box-office pile, the figure is still modest for a movie that cost more than $100 million to produce. Hopes for a fruitful long run are small, with expected blockbusters “Thor: The Dark World” and “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire” arriving in theaters in the coming weeks.
Based on Orson Scott Card's 1985 novel, "Ender's Game" centers on a world in which aliens have taken over Earth and young people are trained to fight the invaders. Asa Butterfield stars as a military prodigy who must help battle the insect-like villains, officially known as Formics.
Though the book and its sequels have long been bestsellers, Card has been in the news in the months leading up to release for his anti-gay rights views. It was unclear how much of a role a "Skip Ender's Game" campaign organized by gay rights activists played in the weekend take.
Landing in second at the box office will be Paramount's “Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa,” Johnny Knoxville’s hidden-camera slapstick; the movie continues its strong run with a $6 million Friday and an estimated $17 million for the weekend, which would put it close to $60 million after two weekends of release.
Finishing behind it will probably be the Robert De Niro-Michael Douglas-Morgan Freeman-Kevin Kline geezer comedy “Last Vegas,” which after a Friday haul of $5.1 million is expected to end up at about $15 million, a number that studio CBS Films hopes can grow as older moviegoers discover the film in the coming weeks.
Relativity Media's animated pic "Free Birds” had an underwhelming opening with a Friday take of just $4 million will struggle to reach $15 million for the weekend, leaving the release wide open to turkey puns.
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