LOS ANGELES — Resurrected demons and resurrected dinosaurs are helping to put some life back into the weekend box office. The demonic horror remake ‘‘Evil Dead’’ debuted at No. 1 with $26 million, according to studio estimates Sunday. In a tight fight for second place were two holdovers, the animated comedy ‘‘The Croods’’ and the action flick ‘‘G.I. Joe: Retaliation,’’ both with an estimated $21.1 million.
Final numbers Monday will sort out which movie comes out ahead. Steven Spielberg’s 3-D debut of his dinosaur blockbuster, ‘‘Jurassic Park,’’ came in fourth with $18.2 million. That’s on top of the $357.1 million domestic haul for ‘‘Jurassic Park’’ in its initial run in 1993. Released by Sony’s TriStar Pictures, ‘‘Evil Dead’’ added $4.5 million in 21 overseas markets, giving it a worldwide start of $30.5 million. Shot on a modest budget of $17 million, the movie is well on its way to turning a profit. The remake was produced by the 1983 original’s filmmakers, director Sam Raimi and producer Rob Tapert, and its star, Bruce Campbell. The new ‘‘Evil Dead’’ lays the gore on thickly for the story of a group of friends terrorized and possessed by demons during a trip to a cabin in the woods.
‘‘It’s one crazy ride, that movie. I have to think Sam Raimi is so proud in remaking this film that it turned out so well,’’ said Rory Bruer, head of distribution for Sony. ‘‘It’s such a visceral ride, where you’re holding on to your seat or holding on to the person next to you.’’
Paramount’s ‘‘G.I. Joe’’ sequel, which had been No. 1 the previous weekend, pushed its domestic total to $86.7 million. The movie also added $40.2 million overseas for an international haul of $145.2 million and a worldwide take of $232 million. ‘‘The Croods,’’ a DreamWorks Animation release distributed by 20th Century Fox, raised its domestic total to $125.8 million after three weekends. Overseas, the movie did an additional $34.1 million to lift its international total to $206.8 million and its worldwide receipts to $333 million. Universal Pictures’ ‘‘Jurassic Park’’ reissue opened in a similar range of other recent blockbuster 3-D releases such as ‘‘Titanic’’ ($17.3 million) and ‘‘Star Wars: Episode I — The Phantom Menace’’ ($22.4 million).
None of the new movies or holdovers came close to the domestic business being done a year ago by ‘‘The Hunger Games,’’ which led over the same weekend in 2012 with $33.1 million in its third weekend. But collectively, Hollywood had a winning lineup of movies that gave revenues a lift from last year. Domestic receipts totaled $134 million, up 8.5 percent from the first weekend of April a year ago, according to box-office tracker Hollywood.com. That uptick comes after three straight weekends of declining revenue and a quiet first quarter in which domestic business has totaled $2.47 billion, down 11.4 percent from the same point in 2012. Hollywood set a record with $10.8 billion domestically last year, and 2013’s releases so far have been unable to match up.
Studios are counting on a strong start to the summer season as ‘‘Iron Man 3’’ arrives the first weekend in May and such sequels as ‘‘Star Trek: Into Darkness,’’ ‘’The Hangover Part III,’’ and ‘‘Fast & Furious 6’’ quickly follow. ‘‘When you have a record box-office year like we did in 2012, every weekend in 2013 is becoming a challenge to best or even equal what we did the year before,’’ said Hollywood.com analyst Paul Dergarabedian. ‘‘The summer movie season can’t come a moment too soon. We definitely need it.’’