By Ronald Grover and Chris Michaud
LOS ANGELES/NEW YORK (Reuters) - "2 Guns," starring Denzel Washington and Mark Wahlberg as rival federal agents, shot through its weekend competition at movie theaters, collecting $27.4 million to lead the North American box office, according to studio estimates released on Sunday.
"The Wolverine," last weekend's box office leader, finished second with $21.7 million in ticket sales and has totaled $95 million during its two weeks in theaters.
Sony's "Smurfs 2," the newly released sequel to its 2011 movie "The Smurfs" starring Neil Patrick Harris and a band of small blue elf-like creatures, was third with $18.2 million in ticket sales.
The horror film "The Conjuring," about a house possessed by a demon, continued its strong run and was fourth with ticket sales of $13.7 million. The animated "Despicable Me 2" was fifth after five weeks with $10.4 million in ticket sales.
"2 Guns," an adaption of the graphic novel by the same name published by Boom! Studios, fell somewhat short of some industry projections that it would generate about $30 million in ticket sales in a summer in which a number of films have failed to live up to expectations.
Walt Disney's "The Lone Ranger" and Sony's "White House Down" and "After Earth" bombed earlier this summer.
"We're thrilled" with the numbers, said Nikki Rocco, president for domestic distribution at Universal Pictures, which distributed "2 Guns" and chalked up its seventh number-one opening this year. She added that "this was a very healthy box office weekend" at a time when "people used to talk about the August doldrums."
Rocco said the studio had anticipated "2 Guns" would open "somewhere in the twenties" of millions, so "we're very satisfied."
"Smurfs 2" fell short of the $35.6 million in ticket sales for Sony's 2011 original film, which was released in late July. The film is based on a Belgian comic first published in 1958 that has been expanded into movies, a TV series and even an Ice Capades show.
"We would have hoped for a little more domestically," said Rory Bruer, Sony Pictures' president of worldwide distribution. "But worldwide we're very, very happy with this film," he added, given the $52.5 million it racked up overseas for a $80.3 million global total.
"It's the world that's the stage for the Smurfs," he added, predicting "this one absolutely is going to be a huge success for the studio."
Universal Pictures, a unit of cable operator Comcast, also produced and distributed "Despicable Me 2. "The Wolverine" was distributed by 20th Century Fox, a unit of Twenty-First Century Fox. "The Conjuring" was produced and distributed by Warner Brothers, a unit of Time Warner.
(Reporting by Ronald Grover and Chris Michaud; Editing by Paul Simao)