NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Sony's (SNE) No Good Deed, produced on a shoestring budget, managed to leap to the top of the weekend box office in its debut, exceeding indie film Dolphin Tale 2 and unseating Disney's Guardians of the Galaxy and Paramount Pictures' (VIAB) Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. The film, created by Sony's smaller 'indie-style' production house ScreenGems, is the latest small-budget film this year to exceed expectations and compete in cinemas overcrowded with superheroes, car chases and explosions.
The home-invasion thriller made $24.5 million in its opening weekend, much higher than $17 million projected by MKM Partners, and surpassing its production budget of approximately $13 million. Though it's unlikely the Idris Elba-starrer will hold its lead over the next fortnight with six new releases scheduled, its initial success is the latest in a trend of small-budget films blowing past expectations.
Universal Studios, Comcast's (CMCSA) film unit, had an early summer hit with comedy Neighbors. The film, starring Seth Rogen and Zac Efron, pulled in $268 million worldwide, nearly 15 times its cost to produce.
The studio had another small-budget hit in Lucy, an action and psychological thriller starring Scarlett Johansson which scored $123.5 million in North America against its $40 million production budget. Overseas ticket sales are nearly double that and it is currently atop the foreign box office thanks to a strong $25 million opening weekend lead in Russia.