LOS ANGELES -- The caveman comedy The Croods left an indelible mark on the wall, opening at No. 1 with $44.7 million, according to Sunday studio estimates.
The 3-D adventure from DreamWorks Animation and 20th Century Fox features a voice cast including Nicolas Cage, Emma Stone and Catherine Keener. They play a prehistoric family encountering danger and strange new creatures when they're forced to find a new cave.
Opening strongly in second place with $30.5 million was Olympus Has Fallen, an action thriller from Training Day director Antoine Fuqua in which North Korean terrorists take over the White House. Gerard Butler, as a secret service agent, leads an all-star cast that includes Aaron Eckhart as the president, Morgan Freeman and Angela Bassett.
Chris Aronson, president of domestic distribution for 20th Century Fox, said "The Croods" had a stronger opening than the $40 million the studio had projected.
"To come in at the $45 million mark, ahead of 'How to Train Your Dragon,' which was another terrific movie from DreamWorks Animation, is a great start to the spring holiday," Aronson said.
"Olympus Has Fallen" also opened higher than expectations -- much higher -- given that FilmDistrict figured it would end up somewhere in the under-$20 million range, said president of distribution Jim Orr. This is by far the biggest debut for the independent distributor, which was just founded in September 2010.
-- The Associated Press