Updated at 7/27 at 12:10 p.m.
Brains are beating brawn at the box office this weekend: Luc Besson’s Lucy, starring Scarlett Johansson, is headed for the number-one spot ahead of Hercules, which stars Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson.
Lucy has already grossed $44 million this weekend after bringing in $17.1 million on Friday, according to data from Box Office Mojo. Hercules, meanwhile, has taken in $29 million after grossing $11 million on Friday.
In Lucy, Johansson plays a woman who gains incredible powers after accidental exposure to some powerful drugs allows her to use more than 10 percent of her brain capacity. Johnson plays the titular Roman hero in Hercules, a movie that, according to reviews, may not require audiences to use 10 percent of their brains to watch.
That 10-percent idea is actually a total myth, but the Lucy-Hercules box office showdown will likely be considered the latest evidence for the viability of female-driven action movies.
Although The Heat‘s $39 million opening weekend last year was modest by blockbuster standards, the fact that the buddy cop flick starred two women (Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy) and performed as well as it did kicked off a number of conversations about the puzzling lack of female-fronted movies.
And while Lucy isn’t operating at Hunger Games levels, last year’s sequel, Catching Fire, was a cause for celebration when it earned the biggest Thanksgiving release ever at a time when Hollywood has been slow to pursue a solid female superhero franchise.
Johansson, who also stars as Black Widow in the Avengers franchise, said in March that she hopes a Black Widow spin-off will materialize from her frequent conversations with Marvel.
“I think it would be exciting to be a part of a franchise or a standalone film where the female superhero used those opportunities as more than moments to stop, pause and look sexy, and actually have a lot of a real depth to the story,” she told IGN earlier this year. Perhaps Lucy‘s win over Hercules can be a nudge toward marking that happen.
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