Box Office Results for April 22, 2011

This weekend, the angry and not-so-angry birds of the 3D animated smash Rio held onto the top spot at the North American box office for a second weekend in a row.  Results for the Easter frame’s three new releases were good as the Tyler Perry comedy Madea’s Big Happy Family, the circus romance Water for Elephants, and the nature documentary African Cats all connected with their respective audiences.  Ticket sales for the Top 20 were up a sharp 40% from a year ago which was not a holiday session, but down a troubling 23% from 2010’s record Easter weekend.  Most holdovers did remain strong though.

Still attracting large crowds, Rio fended off the Tyler Perry machine to retain the number one spot with an estimated $26.8M over the holiday weekend dropping only 32% from its debut to boost the ten-day tally to a muscular $81.3M.  The hold was on par with what FOX saw nine years ago with BLUE SKY’s Ice Age, which fell 35% in its second weekend in March 2002, which was not a holiday.  With schools out on Good Friday, Rio had a more available audience that day helping to cushion the blow.  Both films were directed by Carlos Saldanha as were the Ice Age sequels.

Rio‘s sophomore decline was almost even with last spring’s leggy hit, DREAMWORKS ANIMATION’s How to Train Your Dragon, which slipped 34%, but easily bested the second weekend drops for recent spring toons, NICKELODEON’s Rango (-41%), DREAMWORKS ANIMATION’s Monsters vs. Aliens (-45%), and BLUE SKY’s Horton Hears a Who (-45%).  At its current pace, Rio could find its way to the neighborhood of $160M from North America and plenty more overseas.  The international haul after three weeks soared to $204.7M after a sturdy $44.2M international frame putting the global gross at a towering $286M with much more to come.  The worldwide take should easily climb past the $500M mark in the coming weeks as 3D animated kicpics, especially ones set outside of the U.S., travel very well.

Tyler Perry scored the fourth biggest opening of his career with his latest comedy Madea’s Big Happy Family, which debuted close behind in second place with an estimated $25.8M from 2,288 theaters for a robust $11,254 average.  While on its way to being another momeymaker for the filmmaker and LIONSGATE, the new PG-13 entry showed some audience erosion when compared to the director’s past films.  Madea’s Big Happy Family fell behind the openings of Perry’s last two Madea pics – 2006’s Madea’s Family Reunion ($30M) and 2009’s Madea Goes to Jail ($41M).  Perry’s most recent comedy, last year’s Why Did I Get Married Too?, which bowed on Good Friday as well, also debuted better with $29.3M.

While Tyler Perry films tend to draw in his fan base on the first weekend and suffer large declines in following weeks – his films tend to make 45-48% of their totals in the first three days – Madea’s Big Happy Family scored a rare A CinemaScore so word-of-mouth could allow for a slightly better road ahead.  African Americans made up the usual share of the audience (81%) but females were a somewhat smaller portion of the crowd at 72%.  Why Did I Get Married Too? was 80% female.

Reese Witherspoon and Robert Pattinson drew a solid crowd for their romantic drama Water for Elephants, which premiered in third place with an estimated $17.5M.  Based on the best-selling novel, the PG-13 film averaged $6,212 from 2,817 locations and played heavily to female audiences, lovers of the book, and Twilight fans that follow Pattinson religiously.  Critics had mixed feelings but the built-in audiences came out anyway giving FOX 2000 the best opening for an adult drama this year so far.  Mature-skewing thrillers and comedies have done exceptionally well this year, but regular dramas have seen more modest numbers on the first weekend.  An A- CinemaScore suggests a good run ahead as counter-programming to a steady diet of testosterone flicks about to attack multiplexes.

The Easter holiday, and a concentrated advertising effort reminding audiences of it, gave a big boost to the kidpic Hop, which climbled 16% from last weekend to an estimated $12.5M.  The Easter Bunny pic appropriately broke the $100M mark on Easter Sunday putting the 24-day total at $100.5M.

With most holdovers dropping by less than 30%, horror fourquel Scream 4 collapsed in its second weekend tumbling by a steep 62% to an estimated $7.2M.  With $31.2M in ten days, a final gross of roughly $40M seems likely for the DIMENSION release putting it below the much-loved fright pic Insidious, which has been winning over genre fans all month.

DISNEYNATURE’s latest Earth Day documentary African Cats debuted in sixth place with an estimated $6.4M over an incredibly front-loaded weekend.  With opening day being both Good Friday and Earth Day, its $3.3M take accounted for a whopping 52% of the three-day figure.  The G-rated pic about feline families in Africa was narrated by Samuel L. Jackson and averaged a commendable $5,246 over the weekend from 1,220 sites.  Reviews were mostly positive.  African Cats generated an opening gross and average similar to those of the distributor’s Oceans from one year ago, which bowed to $6.1M over the Friday-to-Sunday portion of its four-day launch.

Four holdovers rounded out the top ten, all within $500,000 of each other and with low declines.  TRISTAR’s uplifting girlpower drama Soul Surfer slipped just 23% to an estimated $5.6M for a $28.7M cume to date.  The sleeper hit horror flick Insidious followed with an estimated $5.4M, down just 20%, with an impressive $44.2M to date.

FOCUS saw its action entry Hanna drop 28% to an estimated $5.3M while SUMMIT’s train disaster thriller Source Code fell a mere 18% to an estimated $5.1M.  Totals to date are $31.7M and $44.7M, respectively.

The top ten films grossed an estimated $117.4M, which was up 37% from last year when PARAMOUNT PICTURES and DREAMWORKS ANIMATION STUDIOS’ How to Train Your Dragon returned to the top spot with $15.4M; and up 17% from 2009 when SCREEN GEMS’ Obsessed debuted at number one with $28.6M.  Neither was the Easter frame though.

April 22, 2011 to April 24, 2011 Top Ten

1.   Rio

  • 26,800,000
  • Blue Sky Studios (Fox)

2.   Madea’s Big Happy Family

  • 25,750,000
  • Lionsgate (Lions Gate) and Tyler Perry Studios

3.   Water for Elephants

  • 17,500,000
  • Fox 2000 Pictures (Fox)

4.   Hop

  • 12,461,000
  • Illumination Entertainment (NBC Universal)

5.   Scream 4

  • 7,154,000
  • Dimension Films (The Weinstein Company)

6.   African Cats

  • 6,400,000
  • Disneynature Films (Disney)

7.   Soul Surfer

  • 5,600,000
  • a TriStar release (Sony)
  • FilmDistrict and Enticing Entertainment

8.   Insidious

  • 5,384,000
  • FilmDistrict and Stage 6 Films (Sony)

9.   Hanna

  • 5,277,000
  • Focus Features (NBC Universal)

10. Source Code

  • 5,064,000
  • a Summit release
  • Vendôme Pictures

April 23, 2010 to April 25, 2010 Top Ten

1.  How to Train Your Dragon

  • $15,350,000
  • a Paramount release (Viacom)
  • DreamWorks Animation Studios (DreamWorks SKG)

2.   The Back-up Plan

  • $12,202,000
  • CBS Films (CBS)

3.   Date Night

  • $10,461,000
  • 20th Century Fox (Fox)

4.   The Losers

  • $9,406,000
  • DC Entertainment (Time Warner) and Dark Castle Entertainment (Silver Pictures)

5.   Kick-Ass

  • $9,342,000
  • a Lionsgate release (Lions Gate)
  • Marv Films

6.   Clash of the Titans

  • $8,924,000
  • Warner Bros. Pictures (Time Warner)

7.   Death at a Funeral

  • $8,023,000
  • Screen Gems (Sony)

8.   Oceans

  • $6,059,000
  • Disneynature Films (Disney)

9.   The Last Song

  • $3,761,000
  • Touchstone Pictures (Disney)

10. Alice in Wonderland

  • $2,264,000
  • Walt Disney Pictures (Disney)

April 24, 2009 to April 26, 2009 Top Ten

1.   Obsessed

  • $28,613,000
  • Screen Gems (Sony)

2.   17 Again

  • $11,518,000
  • New Line Cinema (Time Warner)

3.   Fighting

  • $11,024,000
  • a Universal release (NBC Universal)
  • Rogue Pictures (Relativity Media)

4.   The Soloist

  • $9,716,000
  • DreamWorks Pictures (Viacom) and Universal Pictures (NBC Universal)

5.   Earth

  • $8,826,000
  • Disneynature Films (Disney)

6.   Monsters vs. Aliens

  • $8,521,000
  • DreamWorks Animation Studios (Viacom)

7.   State of Play

  • $6,849,000
  • Working Title Films (NBC Universal)

8.   Hannah Montana: The Movie

  • $6,437,000
  • Walt Disney Pictures (Disney)

9.   Fast & Furious

  • $6,205,000
  • Universal Pictures (NBC Universal)

10. Crank: High Voltage

  • $2,618,000
  • Lionsgate (Lions Gate) and Lakeshore Entertainment
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~ by Matt Whitfield on April 30, 2011.

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