By Sandy Cohen
LOS ANGELES -- The Wolverine slashed monsters and minions to debut atop the weekend box office.
The Fox (FOX) film featuring Hugh Jackman's sixth turn as the claw-wielding superhero opened with $55 million in North America, according to studio estimates Sunday.
Last weekend's top movie, Warner Bros.' (TWX) low-budget horror The Conjuring, slipped to second place, adding an additional $22.1 million to its take.Despicable Me 2 was in third with $16 million. The Universal (CMCSA) animated sequel, with its cast of cute, yellow minions, has made more than $600 million worldwide since it came out four weeks ago. The Wolverine, which is set in Japan and features an international cast, earned an additional $86.1 million overseas. The film's opening-week take surpassed the $120 million it cost to make, said Chris Aronson, Fox's head of domestic distribution. "It's a huge opening for the clawed one," he said. "It played equally well from Maine to Maui." Another Fox film, the animated snail-racing tale Turbo, was in fourth place with $13.3 million. Adam Sandler's Grown Ups 2 followed with $11.5 million. Woody Allen's latest, Blue Jasmine, enjoyed a stellar opening of its own, though on a much smaller scale. Starring Cate Blanchett, the film opened in just six theaters but still collected $612,767. "It's one of the biggest opening per-theater averages ever for a non-animated film," said Paul Dergarabedian of box-office tracker Hollywood.com. Ticket sales this weekend were up almost 30 percent over the same weekend last summer, he said. "It was a good weekend to be a moviegoer because the choices just got a lot more interesting," Dergarabedian said, noting a mix that includes animated, independent and big-budget action offerings. Fruitvale Station, the Sundance winner already generating Oscar buzz, expanded to theaters across the country and edged its way into the top 10, contributing to a summer box office that is up more than 10 percent over last year.
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