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Godzilla tramples rivals with summer season's first monster hit

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LOS ANGELES/NEW YORK (Reuters) - Monster movie remake "Godzilla" crushed its competitors at U.S. and Canadian theaters over the weekend, stomping its way to the top of box office charts with an estimated $93.2 million in ticket sales for the year's second-biggest debut.

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The giant lizard trounced second-place finisher, adult comedy "Neighbors" which led sales a week ago and earned $26 million from Friday through Sunday, ahead of superhero sequel "The Amazing Spider-Man 2" with $16.8 million, according to estimates from tracking firm Rentrak.

"Godzilla" added $103 million in international markets where it opened on Wednesday for a global total of $195 million, said Warner Bros., which produced it along with Legendary Pictures.

The $160 million production is the latest Hollywood remake of the classic 1954 Japanese film about a mutant monster created when U.S. nuclear weapons testing goes awry.

The new film stars Aaron Taylor-Johnson as a naval officer who battles the rampaging beast fromHawaii to San Francisco.

"Godzilla" roared past industry forecasts which called for an opening of about $70 million. Its $93.2 million nipped at April's $95 million debut for "Captain America: The Winter Soldier".

Dan Fellman, president of domestic distribution for Warner Brothers, said the film played well in all markets, which boded well for more Godzilla films down the line.

"We have a franchise in the making, and we're looking at sequels as we speak," Fellman said.

TOUGH COMPETITION

Legendary Pictures's President Jon Jashni said the film's fortunes were boosted by female and more mature audiences.

"Those who thought a Godzilla movie might not necessarily be for them ... and that feeds on itself," he said.

"Godzilla" will face formidable competition next weekend from another big-budget action movie, mutant superhero sequel "X-Men: Days of Future Past".

"Neighbors" stars Seth Rogen as a former party guy who moves in next to a frat house and spars with its president, played by Zac Efron. After two weekends, total sales for the movie fromComcast Corp's Universal Pictures reached $92 million.

"The Amazing Spider-Man 2" stars Andrew Garfield and its worldwide sales reached $633 million through Sunday, according to distributor Sony Pictures, a unit of Sony Corp.

New Walt Disney Co movie "Million Dollar Arm" debuted in fourth with $10.5 million.

"Mad Men" star Jon Hamm plays a real-life sports agent who seeks to turn Indian cricket players into U.S. baseball stars in the $25 million film.

Comedy "The Other Woman" earned $6.3 million for fifth place. It stars Cameron DiazKate Uptonand Leslie Mann as women who seek revenge on a cheating husband and was released by 20th Century Fox, a unit of Twenty-First Century Fox.

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