Audiences turned out in force to see Matt Damon in "Jason Bourne," pushing the spy sequel to a sterling $60 million debut.
The film marked the actor's return to the action franchise after a nine-year hiatus, during which he repeatedly hinted that he might be done with his most popular role. He and director Paul Greengrass argued that 2007's "The Bourne Ultimatum" had brought the character full circle by filling in him on the shadowy bureaucratic maneuvers that transformed him into a killing machine. What was left?
Be it creative spark or big paydays, the pair were somehow lured back to the series. That's good news for Universal, which ran the risk of losing a Tiffany franchise without Damon's involvement. In the interim, the studio had made an ill-conceived attempt at cinematic universe building with "The Bourne Legacy," introducing Jeremy Renner as another amnesic ass-kicker dubbed Aaron Cross. The crowds didn't exactly flock to see this sub-Bourne, and the film grossed about $150 million less than "The Bourne Ultimatum" globally.
See photos of Matt Damon through the years:
Matt Damon through the years
Matt Damon through the years
Brendan Fraiser, Matt Damon, Randel Batinkoff and Guest at the Academy Theater in Beverly Hills, California (Photo by Ron Galella/WireImage)
Matt Damon (Photo by Ron Galella/WireImage)
Matt Damon (Photo by Jim Smeal/WireImage)
Matt Damon at the Radio City Music Hall in New York City, New York (Photo by Kevin Mazur/WireImage)
THE TONIGHT SHOW WITH JAY LENO -- Episode 1274 -- Pictured: (l-r) Actor Matt Damon during an interview with host Jay Leno on December 1, 1997 -- (Photo by: Margaret Norton/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
Matt Damon during 55th Annual Golden Globe Awards at Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills, California, United States. (Photo by SGranitz/WireImage)
BOSTON, : Oscar winning actor Matt Damon from Cambridge, Massachusetts, signs autographs prior to the Home-Run Derby during the 70th Baseball All-Star Week12 July, 1999, at Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts. The All-Star will be played 13 July between the American and National Leagues. (ELECTRONIC IMAGE) AFP PHOTO/Stephen JAFFE (Photo credit should read STEPHEN JAFFE/AFP/Getty Images)
368219 04: Actor Matt Damon stars as Rannulph Junuh in Robert Redford's The Legend of Bagger Vance, to be distributed domestically by DreamWorks. (Photo by David James/Newsmakers)
385569 20: (NO WHO WEEKLY) FILE PHOTO: Actor Matt Damon attends the world premiere of his new film 'All The Pretty Horses' December 10, 2000 at the Beekman Theater in New York City. A Rhodesian Ridgeback dog who resembles actor Matt Damon 'especially in the eyes' says his owner, participated in an audition for pets that look like celebrities February 15, 2001 at Universal Studios in Burbank, CA. The dog was one of several dozens pets competing for a video spot on 'Animal Planet Live', a new attraction at Universal Studios. (Photo by Robin Platzer/Liaison)
PRAGUE, CZECH REPUBLIC - JANUARY 12: (Publicist approval required for ALL usages) Actor Matt Damon on the set during filming of 'The Bourne Identity' on January 12, 2001 in Prague, Czech Republic. (Photo by Daniel Smith/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 24: Matt Damon attends the European premiere of 'The Martian' at Odeon Leicester Square on September 24, 2015 in London, England. (Photo by Karwai Tang/WireImage)
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"Jason Bourne" marks the series' second highest opening, behind "The Bourne Ultimatum's" $69.3 million debut. When adjusted for inflation, however, it trails all but "The Bourne Legacy's" opening weekends. Universal spent $120 million to make the latest installment and released it in 4,026 theaters.
Even with Bourne's resurgence commanding most of the attention, the weekend's other major new wide releases managed to score a respectable debut. STX Entertainment's "Bad Moms" opened to a healthy $23.4 million and a third place finish. That's a strong return on the film's $20 million production budget. It also gives STX Entertainment a much needed win after its other summer release, the Civil War drama "Free State of Jones" collapsed at multiplexes.
Lionsgate also fielded "Nerve," a $20 million thriller about a digital truth or dare-style game that takes a deadly turn. The film stars Dave Franco and Emma Roberts. It opened Wednesday in order to get a jumpstart on the competition, earning $15 million over its first five days and $9 million over the weekend.