The Bourne Legacy overtakes Dark Knight at top of US box office

Studio estimates say latest film in the Bourne series took $40.3m (£25.7m) in its opening weekend

“The Dark Knight Rises” has finally fallen out of first-place at the weekend box office.

Jeremy Renner's action tale "The Bourne Legacy" took over as the No 1 movie with a $40.3 million  (£25.7m) debut, according to studio estimates. 

Will Ferrell and Zach Galifianakis' political comedy "The Campaign" opened at No 2 with $27.4 million. 

The new movies pushed "The Dark Knight Rises" down to third place with $19.5 million, raising the superhero blockbuster's three-week domestic total to $390.1 million. 

The weekend's other new wide release, Meryl Streep and Tommy Lee Jones' marital comic drama "Hope Springs," opened at No. 4 with $15.6 million. 

"The Dark Knight Rises" had been the No 1 movie for three-straight weekends since debuting.

Universal's "The Bourne Legacy" casts Renner and Rachel Weisz in an offshoot of the three hits that starred Matt Damon as unstoppable operative Jason Bourne. Renner plays an agent pursued by Bourne's old spy masters after they try to snuff out the espionage program in a cover-up conspiracy. 

"The Bourne Legacy" came in well behind the $69.3 million debut of Damon's last entry in the series, 2007's "The Bourne Ultimatum." But the new film had a strong start and establishes Renner as a sturdy frontman to keep the franchise running. 

"I love the fact that we were able to reboot this and do as well as we were able to. It leaves it open for us to think about it going forward," said Nikki Rocco, Universal's head of distribution. "We are very much into what it's going to look like the next time." 

While Damon was absent, his presence is felt throughout "The Bourne Legacy," with characters commenting on Jason Bourne sightings and his former handlers jittery over the fact that the rogue agent is still out there. 

Renner is a bankable star to carry on solo, but Universal might really cash in if the studio managed to lure Damon back. 

"The dream team scenario of a 'Bourne' with both Damon and Renner would just be irresistible," said Paul Dergarabedian, box-office analyst for Hollywood.com "That would be cool. I'd be first in line for that." 

"The Campaign" stars Ferrell and Galifianakis as rivals in a mud-slinging congressional election. Distributor Warner Bros. hopes real-life politics can help keep the movie afloat as the election season enters the homestretch. 

"We hope so," Warner distribution boss Fellman said. "We hope they run their campaigns a little more professionally than the one in the movie, but sometimes, you have to wonder." 

Sony's "Hope Springs," featuring Streep and Jones as a couple in marriage therapy at a weeklong retreat, had a modest start but drew strongly among older women, a crowd that does not tend to rush out in big numbers over opening weekend. 

Rory Bruer, Sony's head of distribution, said the studio hopes the film will have a long shelf life at theaters as women talk it up to friends. 

"The Dark Knight Rises" is nearing $400 million domestically and will become only the second film in Warner Bros. history to reach that mark. The first was 2008's "The Dark Knight," the middle chapter in director Christopher Nolan's Batman trilogy, which topped out at $533.3 million. 

Revenues for the finale are running 12 percent behind "The Dark Knight," which had climbed to $441.6 million at the same point in its theatrical run. 

While the Colorado shootings may have scared away some viewers, the Olympics have dampened Hollywood's overall business as fans stay home to watch the games. "The Dark Knight" also had an advantage the new film lacks: a mesmerizing, Academy Award-winning performance by Heath Ledger as the Joker, with the actor's death helping to fuel anticipation for the film. 

"All things considered, 'The Dark Knight Rises' is doing incredibly well," Dergarabedian said. 

"The Dark Knight Rises" has proven more popular than its predecessor overseas, where it has taken in $445.3 million to give it a worldwide total of $835 million. The finale is on track to top the $468 million international total of "The Dark Knight." 

Estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday at US and Canadian theaters, according to Hollywood.com:

1. "The Bourne Legacy," $40.3 million  (£25.7m)

2. "The Campaign," $27.4 million

3. "The Dark Knight Rises," $19.5 million

4. "Hope Springs," $15.6 million. 

5. "Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days," $8.2 million

6. "Total Recall," $8.1 million

7. "Ice Age: Continental Drift," $6.8 million

8. "Ted," $3.3 million

9. "Step Up: Revolution," $2.9 million. 

10. "The Amazing Spider-Man," $2.2 million

AP

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