Offbeat science-fiction action movie Chappie came in at No 1 with a relatively weak opening of $13.3m (£8.8m) on a disappointing weekend at the North American box office.

The Johannesburg-set dystopian tale, from District 9 and Elysium director Neill Blomkamp, knocked Will Smith heist caper Focus off the top spot despite mostly negative reviews.

Chappie stars Dev Patel, Sigourney Weaver, Hugh Jackman and Sharlto Copley (via mo-cap), as well as the South African rap rave duo Die Antwoord, in the futuristic tale of a police robot who becomes sapient. The film’s bow compares to superior $37.4m and $29.8m openings for District 9 and Elysium in 2009 and 2013, though the film-maker will hope to do better outside north America.

The film team review Chappie

Patel also features heavily in The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, which opened impressively in third place with $8.6m, despite showing in around half as many screens as Chappie. The British actor once again plays ambitious young Indian hotelier Sonny, who attempts to expand his empire with the help of his elderly ex-pat guests in the sequel. Judi Dench, Maggie Smith, Celia Imrie and Bill Nighy return for the followup to 2011’s The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, while Richard Gere and Tamsin Greig play two new arrivals.

The top five was rounded out by Matthew Vaughn spy thriller Kingsman, with another $8.3m in its fourth week for a total of $98m, and The Spongebob Movie: Sponge out of Water, with another $7m in its fifth week for a total of $148.9m.

Chappie’s travails were nothing in comparison to those faced by poorly reviewed Vince Vaughn comedy Unfinished Business, which opened way down in 10th spot with just $4.8m. The weak figures represent the latest in a string of poor performances for movies starring the former Swingers actor, and the worst of his career for a major release.

There were no other new films in the top 10 this weekend. However, the controversial Iraq war biopic American Sniper became the highest grossing film of 2014 at the North American box office, the film’s $337m total surpassing the $336.9m haul taken by The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1. Clint Eastwood’s Oscar-nominated film also passed $500m worldwide.

US box office top 10, 2-9 March

1. Chappie: $13.3m - NEW
2. Focus: $10m, $34.5m
3. The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel: $8.6m - NEW
4. Kingsman: The Secret Service: $8.3m, $98m
5. The Spongebob Movie: Sponge out of Water: $7m, $148.9m
6. Fifty Shades of Grey: $5.6m, $156.4m
7. McFarland, USA: $5.3m, $29.4m
8. The Lazarus Effect: $5.1m, $17.4m
9. The Duff: $4.85m, $26.1m
10. Unfinished Business: $4.8m - NEW


Ben Child

The GuardianTramp

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