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HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON Does Okay; DIARY OF A WIMPY KID in the Black: Box Office

How to Train Your Dragon Chief Stoick
Anne Hathaway The White Queen Alice in Wonderland
Chief Stoick (Gerard Butler) How to Train Your Dragon (top); Anne Hathaway as The White Queen, Alice in Wonderland (bottom)

How to Train Your Dragon, featuring the voices of Jay Baruchel, Gerard Butler, Craig Ferguson, and America Ferrera, grossed an estimated $43.3 million at the North American box office this weekend, according to Box Office Mojo.

DreamWorks Animation's new 3D feature boasted $10,678 per screen average at 4,055 sites. However, if you take out the 3D surcharge figures would drop by about a third or so — to approximately $6,800 per screen. Either way, the $165 million-budgeted How to Train Your Dragon had a perfectly acceptable though hardly phenomenal opening.

It'll probably have trouble matching its $165 million production budget at the North American box office.

At #2,Alice in Wonderland collected $17.3 million — down 49.4 percent from the week before. That's not bad at all, considering that Tim Burton's fantasy adventure lost hundreds of 3D venues this weekend.

Alice's total to date is $293.1 million. It'll probably cross the $300 million mark on Tuesday or Wednesday, a couple of days later than I'd predicted. The film stars Mia Wasikowska, Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham Carter, and Anne Hathaway.

Hot Tub Time Machine disappointed with a so-so $13.65 million. Starring John Cusack, the MGM comedy may not even match is $36 million budget at the domestic box office. Since studios/distributors keep about 50-55 percent of box office grosses — and marketing and distribution costs are to be tallied as well — if Hot Tub Time Machine is to earn MGM a profit that will have to be with the generous assistance of the overseas market and ancillary revenues.

At #4, the Jennifer Aniston-Gerard Butler romantic comedy The Bounty Hunter earned $12.4 million. That's a pretty good amount — -40.1 percent from last weekend — for a movie that has received highly negative reviews. To date, The Bounty Hunter, which cost $40 million, has grossed $38.8 million.

Diary of a Wimpy Kid was next with $10 million, about 15 percent less than early estimates indicated. The kiddie flick's cume is $35.7 million. Diary of a Wimpy Kid has already covered its $15 million production budget and will quite likely end up in the black at the North American box office even after marketing and distribution expenses are added up. That's rare these days.

Final weekend figures will be available on Monday.

Photo: How to Train Your Dragon (DreamWorks Animation); Alice in Wonderland (Disney Enterprises)

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