LOS ANGELES — After a nine-month delay, ‘‘G.I. Joe: Retaliation’’ deployed to the top spot at the box office.
The action film starring Dwayne ‘‘The Rock’’ Johnson, Bruce Willis, and Channing Tatum as the gun-toting military toys brought to life marched into the No. 1 position at the weekend box office, earning $41.2 million, according to studio estimates Sunday. ‘‘Retaliation’’ opened Wednesday at midnight, which helped bring its domestic total to $51.7 million.
Paramount postponed the sequel to 2009’s ‘‘G.I. Joe: Rise of Cobra’’ last May from its original June opening date to convert the film to 3-D. The last-minute switcheroo came just weeks after ‘‘Battleship,’’ another movie based on a Hasbro toy, sank at the box office. At that time, Paramount already had begun its advertising campaign for ‘‘Retaliation.’’
‘‘It certainly vindicates the decision,’’ said Don Harris, the studio’s head of distribution. ‘‘Any time you make those sorts of moves, people always assume the worst. The truth is I’d seen this movie a long time ago in 2-D, and the movie worked in 2-D. It’s not trying to be ‘Schindler’s List.’ This movie is intended to be enjoyed as a big, action spectacle.’’
After debuting in the top spot last weekend, the 3-D animated prehistoric comedy ‘‘The Croods’’ from DreamWorks Animation and 20th Century Fox slipped to the No. 2 spot with $26.5 million in its second weekend. The film features the voices of Nicolas Cage, Emma Stone, and Catherine Keener as a cave family on the hunt for a new home.
Among the other new films this weekend, ‘‘Tyler Perry’s Temptation,’’ starring Jurnee Smollett-Bell and Lance Gross, opened above expectations at No. 3 with $22.3 million, while the sci-fi adaptation ‘‘The Host’’ featuring Saoirse Ronan, Max Irons, and Jake Abel as characters from the Stephenie Meyer novel landed at No. 6 in its debut weekend with a modest $11 million.
Overall, the weekend box office was on par with last year when ‘‘The Hunger Games’’ continued to dominate in its second weekend of release with $58.5 million. After a slow start, Hollywood’s year-to-date revenues are still 12 percent behind last year, heading into next month when summer movie season unofficially kicks off with ‘‘Iron Man 3’’ on May 3.
‘‘It’s getting us back on track after many weekends of down-trending box office,’’ said Paul Dergarabedian, box office analyst for Hollywood.com. ‘‘Last weekend was a turning point with the strength of ‘The Croods’ and ‘Olympus Has Fallen’ doing better than expected. We’re heading toward the summer movie season on solid footing. It’s been a tough year so far.’’
Estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday at US and Canadian theaters are according to Hollywood.com. Final domestic figures will be released Monday.