NEW YORK — “Lucy,” the Luc Besson thriller starring Scarlett Johansson, roughed up Dwayne Johnson’s “Hercules” to win a box-office battle of new releases this weekend.

The Universal Pictures film took in $44 million to lead U.S. and Canadian ticket sales, researcher Rentrak said Sunday. “Hercules,” from Viacom’s Paramount Pictures, generated $29 million.

Johansson went “toe-to-toe with Hercules and The Rock and she came out on top,” Paul Dergarabedian, senior analyst at Rentrak, said in a phone interview. “It’s a testament to Scarlett Johansson’s drawing power. She can do no wrong.”

“Lucy” joins a number of smaller-budget movies that have done well this summer, such as “Neighbors” and “22 Jump Street.” The film cost $40 million to make, according to Box Office Mojo, and “Hercules” cost an estimated $100 million.

Johansson plays a drug mule who accidentally ingests a hormone that frees her from mental and physical limitations, allowing her to exact revenge on her outmatched tormentors.

Among returning films, “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes” fell to third place with $16.4 million in sales. The summer sequel from 21st Century Fox, which led the box office for the two previous weekends, has generated ticket sales of $172.1 million so far in domestic theaters.

Horror producer Jason Blum’s “The Purge: Anarchy” fell to fourth from second with $9.9 million in its second week. Walt Disney’s “Planes: Fire and Rescue” dropped to fifth from third on sales of $9.3 million.


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