Ridley Scott’s epic Exodus: Gods and Kings easily shot to the top of the weekend box office, earning $24.5 million, according to official studio estimates.

The Old Testament tale starring Christian Bale and Joel Edgerton took advantage of a slow weekend to dethrone The Hunger Games: Mockingjay — Part 1, which has held onto the top spot for the past three weeks.

It was not an overwhelming victory for the heavily promoted Exodus, made for a reported budget of $140 million.

Exodus won the weekend, but it was less than divine,” says Jeff Bock, box office analyst for Exhibitor Relations. “An opening like that is not going to cut it for a film that cost $140 million. It’s going to be a big battle going forward.”

Exodus was poorly received by critics, with a 27% approval score on RottenTomatoes.com. Audiences were more forgiving, with 40% liking the movie.

Mockingjay moved into the second spot with $13.2 million in its fourth weekend, for $277.4 million total since opening Nov. 21. The domestic tally officially made Mockingjay the second-highest grossing film of the year behind Guardians of the Galaxy ($332 million). Mockingjay has made $611 million in worldwide box office.

Fox’s animated Penguins of Madagascar took third place with $7.3 million ($58.8 million total).

Chris Rock’s directorial debut Top Five went No. 4 in its opening weekend, earning $7.2 million in just under 1,000 theaters. The comedy was a hit with critics, who gave it 89% approval on Rotten Tomatoes. Audiences gave it a slightly lower 75% rating.

“It’s impressive,” says Paul Dergarabedian of Rentrak. “Top Five got solid reviews, features an impressive ensemble and it cracked into the top five as the only R-rated film. That’s the way you want to release a modestly budgeted comedy around the holidays.”

Disney’s animated Big Hero 6 rounded out the top five with $6.1 million ($185 million total).

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SOURCE: USA Today – Bryan Alexander

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