By Scott Bowles, USA TODAY
The Bourne Legacy raced to an easy win at theaters this weekend, dethroning Batman and defeating two comedic presidential candidates - all without Jason Bourne showing up.
The reboot of the Matt Damon spy franchise collected a better-than-expected $40.3 million, according to Hollywood.com.
Analysts projected the film, starring Jeremy Renner as the government's newest super soldier, to make approximately $30 million.
While the opening doesn't compete with Damon's last spy entry - his Bourne Ultimatum opened to $69.3 million in 2007 - the debut could be enough to warrant another film with Renner as the anchor.
"Given that Jeremy Renner is just starting his career as an action hero, there is plenty of room for growth here," says David Mumpower, analyst for Boxofficeprophets.com.
Fans and critics were mixed on the movie, which featured multiple references to Jason Bourne but not a cameo by Damon. About 53% of critics gave it a thumbs-up, while 64% of audiences liked it, say pollsters Rottentomatoes.com. The movie scored a B with audiences, says survey firm CinemaScore.
Reviewers were a little kinder to the Will Ferrell-Zach Galifianakis political comedy The Campaign, which took second place with a strong $27.4 million, about $2 million above projections. Roughly 67% of critics recommended the movie, compared with 64% of fans, Rottentomatoes says.
"As we have seen with Ted, popular comedies have a tendency to excel indefinitely," Mumpower says. "The timeliness of The Campaign during this election season could lead to its lingering in the minds of consumers over the next couple of months."
The Dark Knight Rises fell from the top spot for the first time in three weeks, taking third place with $19.5 million. The movie should pass $400 million by next weekend.
The romantic comedy Hope Springs, starring Meryl Streep and Tommy Lee Jones, opened in fourth place with $15.6 million, meeting most analysts' projections.
Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days rounded out the top 5 with $8.2 million.
Final figures are due today.
Ticket sales remain 4% ahead of last year's pace, while attendance is up 2%, Hollywood.com says.