Entertainment & Arts

Muted opening weekend for epic Moses

Joel Edgerton and Christian Bale Image copyright AP
Image caption Joel Edgerton and Christian Bale play Ramses and Moses respectively in the film

Sir Ridley Scott's latest film Exodus: Gods and Kings has topped the US box office, according to weekend estimates.

Exodus, which cost a reported $140m (£89m) to make, took $24.5m (£15.5m) on its debut weekend.

The biblical epic, which stars Christian Bale as Moses, overtook the third instalment of The Hunger Games, following three weeks at number one.

But the film, also starring Joel Edgerton, Sigourney Weaver and Sir Ben Kingsley, has had mixed reviews.

Time called it a "cinematically uninspired retelling of the Moses story", Vulture said it was "as uneven as Ridley Scott's career", while the New York Times described it as "both woefully insufficient and much too much".

"I think Hollywood is learning that putting epic, biblical stories on the big screen comes at a pretty heavy price. It's not easy to do this,'' said box office analyst Paul Dergarabedian.

The film's opening fell well short of other modern biblical epics, including Darren Aronofsky's Noah which took $43.7m (£27.7m) on its opening weekend in March and 2004's The Passion of the Christ, which took $83.3m (£52.9m).

Image copyright AP
Image caption The animated film is a spin-off of the original Madagascar trilogy

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part One remains at number two in the box office charts, although ticket sales were down 40% on the previous week, at $13.2m (£8.3m).

The latest chapter in the franchise, which stars Jennifer Lawrence, has so far has earned a total of $277.4m (£176.3m) over its four-week run in US cinemas.

Spin-off animation, The Penguins of Madagascar, is number three at the box office, with takings of $7.3m (£4.6m) - just ahead of the weekend's other major new entry, Chris Rock comedy Top Five, which took an estimated $7.2m (£4.5m).

"We got the launch we wanted and the reaction we had hoped for," Rob Moore, vice-chairman of Paramount Pictures told Variety.

"We do feel that word-of-mouth is going to continue to build as we keep expanding."

Awards contenders Wild, starring Reece Witherspoon, and The Theory of Everything, about physicist Stephen Hawking, both took spots in the top 10.

"For me, the hot spots are in the indie world,'" said Mr Dergarabedian.

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