The Spongebob Movie: Sponge Out of Water earned an estimated $52 million in theaters over its opening weekend, easily enough to finish atop the domestic box office.
The animated Nickelodeon-Paramount joint venture based on the popular animated series unseated American Sniper, which brought in $23 million in its fourth week of wide release, as the top earner. Oscar contender American Sniper now has total domestic earnings that are expected to exceed $280 million.
Other big budget new releases, Jupiter Ascending and Seventh Son, fared poorly in a field that was unusually crowded for early February.
Jupiter Ascending, a $150-million science fiction epic from the directors of The Matrix, is expected to earn less than $20 million. Seventh Sun, a $95-million film starring Jeff Bridges and Julianne Moore is expected to earn less than $6 million.