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‘Wonka’ tops box office with a sweet $39 million opening

What do you get when you guzzle down treats? Box office gold with Timothée Chalamet as the lead.

Warner Bros.’ “Wonka” cooked up $39 million at the North American box office in its opening weekend, according to estimates from measurement firm Comscore.

Moviegoers’ sweet tooth was especially strong this weekend as the story of the famous chocolate magnate easily gobbled up its biggest competitor, Lionsgate’s “The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes.” The YA novel-turned-movie brought in $5.8 million at the domestic box office, bringing its North American cumulative to $145.2 million.

The candy-coated flick defied its initial box office expectations of $35 million.

“Wonka” had the second-biggest opening weekend for a Chalamet-led film, finishing just behind the $41 million debut haul of Warner Bros.’ 2021 adaptation of “Dune.”

Rounding out the domestic box office top five this weekend were GKids’ Hayao Miyazaki film, “The Boy and the Heron,” which took in $5.2 million in its sophomore outing, bringing its North American haul to $23.1 million; Toho International’s “Godzilla Minus One” scared up $4.9 million in its third weekend, stomping its way to a North American total of $34.3 million; and Universal Pictures’ “Trolls Band Together,” brought in $4 million in its fifth weekend, its North American cumulative now sings to the tune of $88.7 million.

Directed by Paul King, “Wonka” functions as the origin story of how a young, bright-eyed Willy Wonka (Chalamet) came to be the inventive and renowned chocolatier that built a candy dynasty. The film also stars Hugh Grant, Keegan-Michael Key, Olivia Colman, Sally Hawkins and Rowan Atkinson.

The PG-rated family film scored a solid 84% critic score and a favorable 91% audience score on the review aggregation site Rotten Tomatoes. It garnered an A-minus grade from audiences polled by CinemaScore.

“The costumes and sets are so beautifully made, it’s a bit of a shame when the film overrelies on computer-generated effects and stunts, including a miniaturized performance by Hugh Grant as the Oompa-Loompa Lofty, even if his turn is winning,” writes Tribune News Service film critic Katie Walsh.

“There may have been skepticism about ‘Wonka,’ but there’s no need to worry all that much, especially not about Chalamet, who gives himself over fully to the wonderment and vocal demands of the role,” Walsh continues. “See it and enjoy it for what it is: a playful, heart-tugging take on a beloved character that’s smarter than it lets on.”

Opening next week in wide release are A24’s “The Iron Claw,” Columbia Pictures’ “Anyone But You,” MGM’s “American Fiction,” Warner Bros.’ “Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom” and Universal Pictures’ “Migration.”

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