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Box Office: Animated Brazil Blockbuster + Zack Snyder Dud

Robert Pattinson in Francis Lawrence's Water for Elephants
Robert Pattinson in Francis Lawrence’s Water for Elephants.

April 28

Carlos Saldanha’s Rio, featuring the voices of Jesse Eisenberg and Anne Hathaway, continued to – once again barely – lead the North American box office on Wednesday, April 27, grossing $1.55 million according to Box Office Mojo.

A little over $100,000 behind Rio was Francis Lawrence’s Water for Elephants, starring Robert Pattinson, Reese Witherspoon, and Christoph Waltz. The period romantic drama collected $1.42 million at no. 2.

For the first time since it opened last Friday, Water for Elephants had the highest per-theater average among the top-twelve movies, $506. Tyler Perry’s Madea’s Big Happy Family lost that top position following a steep 29.5 percent drop-off rate on Wednesday.

At no. 3, Madea’s Big Happy Family, featuring Perry, Loretta Devine, Isaiah Mustafa, Bow Wow, Shannon Kane, and Cassi Davis, earned $1.11 million. Its per-theater average was $486.

Madea’s Big Happy Family‘s Wednesday revenues were down 49 percent compared to Sunday. For comparison’s sake: Water for Elephants’ Sunday-Wednesday drop-off rate was only 20 percent.

AnnaSophia Robb, Lorraine Nicholson in Sean McNamara's Soul Surfer
AnnaSophia Robb, Lorraine Nicholson in Sean McNamara’s Soul Surfer

April 25

Rio de Janeiro was conspicuous at the international box office over Easter weekend (April 22-24). Kenneth Branagh’s Thor, starring Chris Hemsworth, Anthony Hopkins, Natalie Portman, and Tom Hiddleston, less so after opening in second place in Australia.

Carlos Saldanha’s Rio was the no. 1 movie internationally for the third consecutive weekend; it was followed by Justin Lin’s Fast Five, starring Paul Walker and Vin Diesel, which is partly set in Rio. (There’ll be more Rio on the big screen later in the year, when The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 1 opens in November, as Robert Pattinson’s Edward Cullen and Kristen Stewart’s Bella Swan spend their honeymoon there.)

Rio, featuring the voices of Anne Hathaway, Jesse Eisenberg, Jane Lynch, Jamie Foxx, Leslie Mann, and George Lopez, collected an estimated $44.3 million in 66 territories as per Box Office Mojo. With $6.9 million, Brazil was Rio‘s top market; it was followed by France ($3.9m) and Mexico ($3.1m). Rio‘s international total to date: $206 million. Rio, in fact, is the first 2011 release to pass the $200 million milestone overseas.

At no. 1 in the United Kingdom ($8.8 million), Australia ($8.3 million), New Zealand ($950,000) and South Korea ($3.4 million), Fast Five grossed an estimated $24 million (including pre-weekend screenings). According to Box Office Mojo, Fast Five out-grossed the opening weekends of the previous Fast and Furious movies in those four markets.

And finally, Thor drew an estimated $5.8 million in Australia, an amount Box Office Mojo places “on par with” that country’s opening grosses of Clash of the Titans and the first Iron Man.

Thor will quite possibly top next weekend, when it opens in most major territories the world over.

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Carlos Saldanha’s animated 3D feature Rio, featuring the voices of Anne Hathaway, Jesse Eisenberg, Jane Lynch, George Lopez, was indeed the top movie on the U.S. and Canada box office chart this past Easter weekend, grossing $26.3 million according to actuals found at Box Office Mojo.

Rio collected $500,000 less than estimated; even so, it was more than $1 million ahead of the no. 2 movie, Tyler Perry’s Madea’s Big Happy Family, which actually earned $700,000 less than reported on Sunday.

Overestimation, as so often happens, inflated the figures of most of the top-twelve releases. The Robert Pattinson-Reese Witherspoon-Christoph Waltz drama Water for Elephants took in $700,000 less than estimated; African Cats $400,000 less; Hop $300,000; Insidious $200,000; Soul Surfer $150,000; Scream 4 and The Conspirator $100,000; and so on.

Featuring Perry, Loretta Devine, Isaiah Mustafa, Bow Wow, Shannon Kane, and Cassi Davis, Madea’s Big Happy Family actually opened with $25.06 million.

Francis Lawrence’s period romantic drama Water for Elephants collected $16.84 million, a solid debut for an adult film – especially one with less-than-stellar reviews – even if not quite as solid as what 20th Century Fox had reported on Sunday.

Hop, starring James Marsden and the voice of Russell Brand as the rebellious son of the Easter Bunny, was the no. 4 movie, adding $12.18 million and passing the $100 million milestone on Easter Sunday. Total: $100.22 million.

Featuring Courteney Cox, David Arquette, Neve Campbell, Hayden Panettiere, Anna Paquin, Kristen Bell, and Emma Roberts, Wes Craven’s Scream 4 earned $7.03 million at no. 5.

Opening at a modest no. 6, Disney’s African Cats took in $6 million. Directed by Alastair Fothergill and Keith Scholey, the documentary about African felines is narrated by Samuel L. Jackson.

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Michael Fassbender as Rochester in Cary Joji Fukunaga's Jane Eyre
Michael Fassbender as Rochester in Cary Joji Fukunaga’s Jane Eyre

Robert Redford’s The Conspirator, starring Robin Wright, James McAvoy, Tom Wilkinson, Evan Rachel Wood, and Kevin Kline, was down 35 percent despite the addition of 142 theaters. At no. 13, the period political drama collected $2.28 million at 849 locations for an unexciting $2,696 per-theater average according to studio estimates found at Box Office Mojo.

Faring much worse was Paul Johansson’s Atlas Shrugged: Part I, which lost 48 percent of its business from last weekend even though it’s screening at 55 percent more theaters. Starring Taylor Schilling as Ayn Rand’s independent-minded heroine Dagny Taggart, Atlas Shrugged, despite its popularity among the Tea Party crowd, took in only $879,000 at 465 locations, averaging a meager $1,890 per site on its second week out.

In all likelihood, Atlas Shrugged will disappear fast – without managing to either recover its low $10 million budget or lead to parts II and III. Total after ten days: $3.09 million.

Atlas Shrugged‘s overseas box office prospects are all but nil, considering that the popularity of Ayn Rand, her philosophy, and the anti-government Tea Party movement are intrinsically American cultural phenomena.

Meanwhile, Cary Joji Fukunaga’s Jane Eyre, starring Mia Wasikowska and Michael Fassbender, continues to do decent business in limited release. At 319 locations on its seventh weekend out, the latest film adaptation of Charlotte Brontë’s classic grossed $782,000, down 21 percent after the addition of 45 theaters (about 15 percent more than last weekend). Total to date: $7.91 million.

Another bit of good news: the censored PG-13-rated version of Tom Hooper’s The King’s Speech flopped miserably. After four weekends, the Weinstein Company’s botched up version of their own Academy Award-winning film collected only $2.86 million.

Photo: Jane Eyre (Laurie Sparham / Focus Features)

April 24

Starring Robert Pattinson, Reese Witherspoon, Christoph Waltz, Hal Holbrook, and Tai the Elephant (as Rosie the Elephant), Francis Lawrence’s period romantic drama Water for Elephants, adapted by Richard LaGravenese from Sara Gruen’s bestseller, debuted with a stronger than expected $17.5 million according to studio estimates found at Box Office Mojo.

Water for Elephants didn’t quite reach $20 millionas it might have – or at least gotten close – had Saturday figures not gone down nearly across the board among the top twelve movies on the chart. Even so, the film averaged $6,212 at 2,817 locations, a good initial figure for an adult drama in wide release.

Also, adult dramas tend to hold up well, especially at a time when there’s a dearth of such fare. Despite a mediocre 44 percent approval rating among Rotten Tomatoes‘ top critics, the $40 million20th Century Fox release has received a solid A- rating from moviegoers, about 70 percent of whom were women and over 25.

The good performance of Water for Elephants should be particularly good news for Robert Pattinson. If estimates hold, on its first weekend Water for Elephants took in nearly as much as the $19 million Pattinson’s previous non-Twilight effort, Remember Me, grossed during its entire run last year.

Having said that, both Reese Witherspoon and Christoph Waltz have reason to rejoice as well. On opening weekend, Water for Elephants collected more than twice the paltry $7.48 million that Witherspoon’s previous vehicle, How Do You Know, earned on its debut late last year. And the circus drama certainly performed infinitely better than Witherspoon’s previous dramatic foray, Rendition, which opened in 2007 with a dismal $4.06 million (about $4.7 million today) at 2,250 sites.

Christoph Waltz, for his part, has garnered widespread praise for his portrayal of the psychotic ringmaster. In fact, Waltz is the one cast member that could be remembered later this year when awards season kicks off. Water for Elephants thus shows that we’ll surely be seeing more of the Academy Award-winning actor.

Overseas, Water for Elephants has opened in South Africa, Sweden, Turkey, and a handful of other countries. Its biggest market has been Russia, where it pulled in $1 million. Water for Elephants’ worldwide total currently stands at $20.1 million.

At a – relatively speaking – disappointing no. 2, Tyler Perry’s Madea’s Big Happy Family, featuring Perry, Loretta Devine, Isaiah Mustafa, Bow Wow, Shannon Kane, and Cassi Davis, trailed behind Carlos Saldanha’s Rio this Easter weekend in North America, opening with $25.75 million at 2,288 theaters according to studio estimates found at Box Office Mojo.

Now, that’s not a bad figure for a movie that cost a reported $25 million (not including distribution/marketing expenses). In fact, Madea’s Big Happy Family‘s $11,254 per-theater average was the highest among the top-twelve movies.

Putting things in context, however, makes Madea’s Big Happy Family seem both smaller and sadder.

Tyler Perry’s two previous Madea outings, Madea’s Family Reunion (2006) and Madea Goes to Jail (2009), opened (in February) with, respectively, $30 millionand $41 million – which would be, once again respectively, about $37 million and $44 million today. Both movies were released at 100-200 fewer theaters than Madea’s Big Happy Family.

Madea’s Family Reunion averaged $13,687 per theater (approx. $16,700 today), while Madea Goes to Jail‘s average was $20,192 (approx. $21,500 today). As mentioned above, Madea’s Big Happy Family‘s estimated per-theater average is a considerably more modest $11,254.

Even the non-Madea Perry comedy Why Did I Get Married Too, which opened on Easter weekend last year, had a stronger debut, collecting $29.28 million (about $29.7 million today) at 2,155 locations, averaging $13,591 per site.

Something else that matters: whereas Madea’s Family Reunion had a minuscule $6 million budget and Madea Goes to Jail cost a reported $17.5m, Madea’s Big Happy Family, as mentioned above, had a $25 million budget.

Also, Perry is big among African-Americans – 81 percent of the crowd that checked out Madea’s Big Happy Family this Easter weekend – but his movies tend to plummet after opening weekend, and they have no following overseas, where American movies earn on average about two-thirds of their grosses.

Hop, starring James Marsden and the voice of Russell Brand as the rebellious son of the Easter Bunny, was the no. 4 movie this Easter weekend, after Rio, Madea’s Big Happy Family, and Water for Elephants. After jumping 16 percent from the previous weekend, Hop added $12.46 million according to studio estimates found at Box Office Mojo.

Quite appropriately, Hop passed the $100 million milestone on Easter Sunday. Total: $100.5 million. Worldwide: $147.7 million. (Hop‘s international performance has been considerably more modest than Rio‘s.) Cost: $63 million.

Featuring Courteney Cox, David Arquette, Neve Campbell, Hayden Panettiere, Anna Paquin, Kristen Bell, and Emma Roberts, Wes Craven’s Scream 4 plummeted this weekend, earning $7.15 million (down 62 percent) at no. 5. Total: $31.15 million. Worldwide: $49.09 million. Cost: $40 million.

Opening at a modest no. 6, Disney’s African Cats took in $6.4 million, about $1 million less than expected after its solid Friday debut. That happened because African Cats was down an alarming 49 percent on Saturday, a much worse drop-off rate than that of any other top-twelve movie on the North American box office chart.

Directed by Alastair Fothergill and Keith Scholey, the documentary about African felines is narrated by Samuel L. Jackson. African Cats’ per-theater average was a just okay $5,246 for a movie at 1,220 locations. (All things being equal, the fewer the number of theaters the higher the per-theater average should be. For comparison’s sake: at 2,817 theaters, Water for Elephants averaged $6,212 per site.)

Next in line – and holding up surprisingly well – was AnnaSophia Robb’s Soul Surfer, down only down 23 percent, with $5.6 million at no. 7. Total: $28.66 million. Cost: $18 million.

Also proving itself resilient was Patrick Wilson-Rose Byrne’s Insidious, down a mere 20 percent after bringing in $5.38 million at no. 8. Total: $44.17 million. Cost: $1.5 million (plus about $20m+ in marketing expenses).

Rounding out the top twelve were:

  • Cate Blanchett-Saoirse Ronan’s Hanna with $5.27 million (down 27.5 percent). Total: $31.71 million. Cost: $30 million.
  • Jake Gyllenhaal-Michelle Monaghan’s Source Code with $5.06 million (down 18.5 percent). Total: $44.66 million. Worldwide: $63.26 million. Cost: $32 million.
  • Russell Brand-Helen Mirren’s Arthur with $4.1 million (down 39 percent). Total: $29.25 million. Cost: $40 million.
  • Bradley Cooper-Abbie Cornish’s Limitless with $2.64 million (down 28 percent). Total: $73.98 million. Worldwide: $115.98 million. Cost: $27 million.

Carlos Saldanha’s animated 3D feature Rio, featuring the voices of Anne Hathaway, Jesse Eisenberg, Jane Lynch, George Lopez, and others, was the no. 1 movie at the North American box office this Easter weekend, grossing $26.8 million according to studio estimates found at Box Office Mojo.

Rio was down only down 31.5 percent despite softer than usual figures on Saturday. Most kiddie flicks go up Saturday and hold up well on Sunday, but Rio, like many other movies on the North American chart, was down on Saturday. That may have something to do with the Easter weekend itself; last year, the same phenomenon took place among several top-twelve films as well (Clash of the Titans, Why Did I Get Married Too, Alice in Wonderland, etc.).

To date, Rio has earned $81.26 million domestically, in addition to a whopping $204.7 million internationally, according to The Hollywood Reporter. That means a grand total of $283.86 million worldwide, which makes Rio the biggest box office hit of 2011. (Paramount’s Rango is no. 2, with about $240m.) Unsurprisingly, Rio‘s top international market remains Brazil, where it added an estimated $6.7 million this weekend.

A 20th Century Fox release, Rio‘s budget was reportedly $90 million.

Partly thanks to Rio, with the assistance of Tyler Perry’s Madea’s Big Happy Family and the Robert Pattinson-Reese Witherspoon-Christoph Waltz drama Water for Elephants, the U.S. and Canada box office was up 38 percent compared to the same weekend last year.

Chiefly thanks to Rio‘s success throughout the week and its relatively small drop-off rate from last weekend, the domestic box office is now down 18 percent compared to last year – versus 20 percent a week ago.

It should be noted, however, that figures for the top twelve films were down 26 percent if compared to Easter weekend (April 2-4) 2010 , when Clash of the Titans opened with $61.23 million, and Perry’s Why Did I Get Married Too and DreamWorks’ How to Train Your Dragon took in more than $29 million each.

Carlos Saldanha’s Rio, featuring the voices of Anne Hathaway, Jesse Eisenberg, Jane Lynch, George Lopez, and others, topped the U.S. and Canada box office on Friday, April 22, grossing $10.75 million according to studio estimates found at Box Office Mojo.

At a – relatively speaking – disappointing no. 2, Tyler Perry’s Madea’s Big Happy Family opened with $10.5 million. If figures hold, Madea’s Big Happy Family may reach Sunday with about $25 million, which is considerably less than Perry’s two previous Madea outings, Madea’s Family Reunion (2006) and Madea Goes to Jail (2009), which opened (in February) with, respectively, $30 millionand $41 million.

Back in 2006, Madea’s Family Reunion took in $10.46 million (about $12.79 million in 2011 dollars) on its Friday debut; Madea Goes to Jail drew $14.74 million (about $15.74 million today). Both movies opened at 100-200 fewer theaters than Madea’s Big Happy Family.

Francis Lawrence’s Water for Elephants, starring Robert Pattinson, Reese Witherspoon, Christoph Waltz, Hal Holbrook, and Tai the Elephant (Rosie the Elephant in the movie), debuted with $7 million, which means the period drama performed better than expected on opening day. There’s a very good chance it’ll end up in the high teens – possibly even up to $20 million – by Sunday evening. It all depends, of course, on whether Friday estimates are correct and if word-of-mouth/20th Century Fox’s marketing machine are good enough to increase Water for Elephants’ box office momentum on Saturday before the inevitable Sunday drop.

Regardless of their religious preference, if any, 20th Century Fox executives apparently will have reason to rejoice this Easter weekend: both Carlos Saldanha’s animated 3D feature Rio and the Francis Lawrence-directed period drama Water for Elephants, starring Robert Pattinson, Reese Witherspoon, and Christoph Waltz, are performing above expectations.

April 22

The animated 3D feature Rio topped the North American box office for the seventh straight day on Thursday, April 21, grossing an estimated $4.15 million according to Box Office Mojo. Directed by Carlos Saldanha, Rio features the voices of Anne Hathaway, Jesse Eisenberg, Rodrigo Santoro, Jane Lynch, Tracy Morgan, Leslie Mann, Jamie Foxx, and George Lopez.

Whether Rio will top the box office this Easter weekend remains unclear. Rio has been holding up remarkably well overseas – it actually sold more tickets on its second weekend in the United Kingdom than on its first – and its domestic weekday take has been quite impressive. Rio, in fact, passed the $50 million milestone on Wednesday. Yet, Tyler Perry’s Madea’s Big Happy Family opened today. So, it all depends on whether Perry’s fans have gotten tired of watching him in drag.

The two previous Madea outings generated $30 millionand $41 million on their opening weekends. Some box office pundits are expecting this third installment to bring in about $30 million. Rio could land anywhere between $20m-$28 million.

Francis Lawrence’s Water for Elephants, starring Robert Pattinson, Reese Witherspoon, Christoph Waltz, and Tai the Elephant (Rosie the Elephant in the movie), will probably have a decent, though unremarkable debut. Reviews for Water for Elephants have been mixed, while non-Twilight Saga Pattinson, non-Legally Blonde Witherspoon, and non-Inglourious Basterds Waltz aren’t exactly major box office attractions. In other words, the box office crown will go to either Perry or parrots.

Box-office clairvoyants are expecting Water for Elephants to collect anywhere between $12m-$18 million at no. 3. Unless, that is, Hop rises for Easter; in that case, the Pattinson-Witherspoon-Waltz period melodrama would open at no. 4.

Robert De Niro, Bradley Cooper, Limitless
Limitless with Robert De Niro and Bradley Cooper: $100 million worldwide?

April 18 update: Despite yesterday’s estimates, Carlos Saldanha’s animated 3D feature Rio failed to reach the $40 million mark at the North American box office this past weekend, April 15-17. According to actuals found at Box Office Mojo, Rio grossed $39.22 million, for a $10,252 per-theater average. Studio estimates, in fact, were inflated across the board, as you can see below.

Rio, about an American-raised blue bird that finds love in Brazil, features the voices of Anne Hathaway, Jesse Eisenberg, Rodrigo Santoro, Jane Lynch, Tracy Morgan, Leslie Mann, Jamie Foxx, and George Lopez, Rio.

Featuring Courteney Cox, David Arquette, Neve Campbell, Hayden Panettiere, Anna Paquin, Kristen Bell, Emma Roberts (Eric Roberts’ daughter, Julia Roberts’ niece), Rory Culkin, Mary McDonnell, Heather Graham, Adam Brody, Erik Knudsen, Dane Farwell, and Nico Tortorella, Wes Craven’s Scream 4 opened with $18.69 million, or about $600,000 less than the studio estimated. In other words, it was an even bigger box office disappointment.

At no. 3, Hop, starring James Marsden and the voice of Russell Brand, added $10.71 million – about $400,000 less than estimated – and down nearly 50 percent compared to last weekend. Blame it on Rio.

Sean McNamara’s Soul Surfer‘s Sunday estimate turned out to be slightly ($200,000) inflated. As a result, Hanna was the weekend’s actual no. 4 movie. Directed by Joe Wright, and featuring Cate Blanchett, Saoirse Ronan, and Eric Bana, the thriller pulled in $7.28 million.

At no. 5, Soul Surfer, featuring AnnaSophia Robb, Helen Hunt, and Dennis Quaid, scored $7.26 million. It was followed by Arthur, starring Russell Brand, Helen Mirren, Jennifer Garner, and Greta Gerwig, which brought in $6.75 million (down 45 percent compared to last weekend).

Next in line were James Wan’s Insidious, with Patrick Wilson, Rose Byrne, and Barbara Hershey, with $6.74 million at no. 7 and Duncan Jones’ mystery thriller Source Code, starring Jake Gyllenhaal, Michelle Monaghan, and Vera Farmiga, with $6.2 million ($100,000 less than estimated) at no. 8.

Rounding out the top twelve were:

James Franco-Natalie Portman’s Your Highness, which actually generated more ticket sales than estimated: $4.01 million (+$100,000), at no. 9, thus jumping one spot ahead of Robert Redford’s The Conspirator.

At no. 10, also ahead of The Conspirator, was Bradley Cooper-Abbie Cornish’s Limitless with $3.66 million, or about $200,000 less than estimated. Despite the downward correction, Limitless may have indeed passed the $100 million milestone at the global box office. That feat can’t be confirmed as international figures haven’t been fully tallied, and Limitless is currently less than $200,000 above the $100 million mark.

Meanwhile, Redford’s The Conspirator, starring Robin Wright, James McAvoy, Tom Wilkinson, Evan Rachel Wood, and Kevin Kline, had an even more modest bow than estimated, $3.5 million (down $400,000) at 707 locations. Thus, The Conspirator‘s per-theater average was adjusted from a passable $5,550 to a borderline mediocre $4,963.

Matthew McConaughey-Ryan Phillippe’s The Lincoln Lawyer brought up the rear with $2.88 million (down $100,000).

At no. 14, about $400,000 behind Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules, Paul Johansson’s widely panned Atlas Shrugged: Part I drew $1.68 million – or about $100,000 more than estimated – at 299 theaters. Its per-theater average was an acceptable $5,640.

Based on Ayn Rand’s novel, Atlas Shrugged features director Johansson, Taylor Schilling, Grant Bowler, Jsu Garcia, Michael Marsden, Michael O’Keefe, and Michael Lerner.

Among the top-twelve movies, Rio, partly aided by 3D surcharges, had by far the highest per-theater average, $10,252. On its second weekend, Your Highness had the lowest, $1,450.

Also among the top twelve (barring newcomers Rio, Scream 4, and The Conspirator), Insidious and Source Code posted the lowest weekend-to-weekend drop-off rate, around 28 percent. Your Highness posted the steepest, down 57 percent.

Photo: Limitless (Relativity Media)

April 17

Toucan (George Lopez), Jewel (Anne Hathaway), Blu (Jesse Eisenberg), Rio
Toucan (George Lopez), Blu (Jesse Eisenberg), Jewel (Anne Hathaway), Rio

Carlos Saldanha’s animated 3D feature Rio easily topped the U.S. and Canada box office this weekend, April 15-17, as per studio estimates found at Box Office Mojo. Featuring the voices of Anne Hathaway, Jesse Eisenberg, Rodrigo Santoro, Jane Lynch, Tracy Morgan, Leslie Mann, Jamie Foxx, and George Lopez, Rio earned $40 million – the best opening weekend of 2011 to date – averaging a solid $10,455 per venue.

If studio estimates hold – actuals will be announced Monday – Rio will have beat the expectations of distributor 20th Century Fox, rival studios, and box office pundits. That feat is more impressive when one considers that less than 60 percent of Rio‘s revenues came from pricier 3D houses. (On the downside, Rio‘s “feat” looks quite a bit less impressive when compared to Saldanha’s first Ice Age film, which collected $46 million way back in 2002 – or the equivalent of $63.84 million today.)

Chiefly thanks to Rio‘s appeal, revenues this weekend were up 12 percent compared to the same weekend in 2010. Yet, so far this year domestic box office revenues are down 19 percent according to Hollywood.com.

Overseas, the $90 million-budgeted Rio has already taken in $129.1 million, topping the international box office chart for the second weekend in a row according to The Hollywood Reporter. Unsurprisingly, Rio is performing particularly well in Brazil, where it has scored $18.2 million after 10 days out.

Additionally, it opened in France with $4.7 million and reportedly had Venezuela’s biggest opening (not adjusted for inflation / 3D surcharges), $1.4 million. Rio also remained on the top spot on its second weekend in Mexico, Germany, and Spain, among other territories.

Photo: 20th Century Fox

At no. 2 this weekend (April 15-17) in North America, Wes Craven’s Scream 4 opened with a highly disappointing $19.27 million – about $10 million less than expected – as per studio estimates found at Box Office Mojo. That translated into an underwhelming $5,833 per theater for the $40 million-budgeted horror flick.

The extensive Scream 4 cast includes Courteney Cox, David Arquette, Neve Campbell, Hayden Panettiere, Academy Award winner Anna Paquin, Kristen Bell, Emma Roberts (Eric Roberts’ daughter, Julia Roberts’ niece), Rory Culkin, two-time Academy Award nominee Mary McDonnell, Heather Graham, Adam Brody, Erik Knudsen, Dane Farwell, and Nico Tortorella

It should also be noted that among the top twelve films in the U.S. and Canada, Scream 4 was the only one to be down on Saturday – and not just slightly down; according to studio estimates, the Weinstein Co. release was off nearly 20 percent from the day before. Add to that an estimated 35 percent drop on Sunday and that helps to explain why Scream 4‘s final weekend estimates fell way below expectations.

Internationally, Scream 4 was also the weekend’s no. 2 film, collecting $18 million. It topped the box office chart in the United Kingdom, and came in second (after Rio) in France and Brazil.

At no. 3, Hop added $11.16 million, down a hefty down 47.5 percent now that it has the generally better-received Rio as competition. Starring James Marsden and the voice of Russell Brand, Hop‘s total currently stands at $82.6 million. Worldwide: $112 million. Cost: $63 million.

Holding up surprisingly well at no. 4 was Sean McNamara’s Soul Surfer, featuring AnnaSophia Robb, Helen Hunt, and Dennis Quaid. The Christian-themed drama scored $7.4 million, down only down 30.5 percent. To date, Soul Surfer has collected $19.99 million. Cost: $18 million.

At no. 5, Joe Wright’s Hanna, with Academy Award winner Cate Blanchett, Academy Award nominee Saoirse Ronan, and Eric Bana, pulled in $7.32 million (down 41 percent). Total: $23.32 million. Cost: $30 million. It’s possible that when actuals are released Monday, that Soul Surfer and Hanna will switch places as their estimates are quite close.

Next in line at no. 6 was Arthur, starring Russell Brand, Helen Mirren, Jennifer Garner, and Greta Gerwig, which pulled in $6.94 million. Total: $22.34 million. Cost: $40 million.

James Wan’s Insidious, featuring Patrick Wilson, Rose Byrne, and Barbara Hershey, collected $2.32 million, down only 27 percent, at no. 7. Total: $35.98 million. Cost: $1.5 million (in addition to $20m+ in marketing).

Duncan Jones’ mystery thriller Source Code, starring Jake Gyllenhaal, Michelle Monaghan, and Vera Farmiga, brought in $6.3 million, down a mere 27 percent, at no. 8. Total: $36.99 million. Worldwide: $55.59 million. Cost: $32 million.

Photo: Scream 4 (Gemma La Mana / Dimension Films)

April 16

As expected, Carlos Saldanha’s animated 3D feature Rio topped the North American box office on Friday, April 15, earning $10.2 million according to studio estimates found at Box Office Mojo. Rio features the voices of Anne Hathaway, Jesse Eisenberg, Rodrigo Santoro, Jane Lynch, Tracy Morgan, Leslie Mann, Jamie Foxx, George Lopez, and others. It seems likely that Rio‘s take will reach the expected $38 million by Sunday evening.

At no. 2, Wes Craven’s Scream 4, featuring Courteney Cox, David Arquette, Neve Campbell, Hayden Panettiere, Anna Paquin, Kristen Bell, and Emma Roberts, opened with $8 million at 3,305 locations. That translated into an underwhelming – for the opening day of a horror flick belonging to a popular franchise – $2,421 per theater. Also in the Scream 4 cast: Rory Culkin, Mary McDonnell, Heather Graham, Adam Brody, Erik Knudsen, Dane Farwell, and Nico Tortorella.

Despite 3D surcharges, Rio‘s per-theater average was only slightly ahead that of Scream 4 – $2,666 at 3,826 sites. But as a kiddie flick, Rio will surely do considerably better on Saturday and Sunday, leaving Scream 4 way behind when final weekend figures are tallied. Many had been predicting Scream 4 would open with about $30m; now it looks like that figure will be much closer to $20 million.

Up three spots (compared to Thursday) at no. 3, James Wan’s Insidious, featuring Patrick Wilson, Rose Byrne, and Barbara Hershey, collected $2.32 million, down a mere 29 percent compared to last Friday. That’s quite remarkable for your average horror flick, which means that the reported $20m+ distributor FilmDistrict has spent on marketing their film has been put to good use.

Photo: Scream 4 (Gemma La Mana / Dimension Films)

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Anna Paquin, Kristen Bell, Scream 4
Anna Paquin, Kristen Bell, Scream 4

James Marsden-Russell Brand’s Hop will apparently go from first to third position this weekend at the North American box office according to early, rough estimates found at Deadline.com. Rio, partly thanks to 3D surcharges, will easily top the chart with an estimated $38 million at 3,826 theaters, 2,591 of which are 3D. Directed by Carlos Saldanha, Rio earned an estimated $10 million on Friday.

Rio features the voices of Anne Hathaway, Jesse Eisenberg, Leslie Mann, Rodrigo Santoro, Tracy Morgan, George Lopez and Jamie Foxx, among others.

At no. 2, Wes Craven’s Scream 4, featuring Courteney Cox, David Arquette, Neve Campbell, Hayden Panettiere, Anna Paquin, Kristen Bell, Emma Roberts, Rory Culkin, Mary McDonnell, Heather Graham, and Adam Brody, took in an estimated $8.5 million at 3,305 locations on Friday and is expected to reach $20 million by Sunday evening. Those aren’t exactly great figures for a movie from a popular franchise at nearly 3,500 sites – well, even though the last Scream flick was released 11 years ago.

Insidious was no. 3, with $2.3 million on Friday. The horror flick starring Patrick Wilson and Rose Byrne was down a mere 23 percent from a week ago. That’s quite remarkable.

At no. 4 with $2.2 million were both Hop and Soul Surfer, followed closely behind by Russell Brand’s Arthur with $2.1 million and Saoirse Ronan’s Hanna with $2 million.

Needless to say, there’ll likely be some switching around when official studio estimates are released Saturday morning. More adjustments will follow when box office actuals come out on Monday.

Photo: Scream 4 (Gemma La Mana / Dimension Films)

Starring James Marsden and the voice of Russell Brand, last weekend’s North American box office champ, Hop, was down three spots – behind Rio, Scream 4, and Insidious – at no. 4. Hop took in $2.29 million according to studio estimates found at Box Office Mojo.

Not faring very well was Robert Redford’s period political drama The Conspirator, despite a prestigious cast that includes Robin Wright, James McAvoy, Tom Wilkinson, Evan Rachel Wood, Justin Long, Kevin Kline, Danny Huston, Stephen Root, Toby Kebbell, and Jonathan Groff. Distributed by Roadside Attractions, on its first day out The Conspirator collected only $1.09 million at 707 locations, averaging a disappointing $1,542 per site. Redford’s film landed on the 11th spot on the U.S. and Canada box office chart.

All things being equal, the fewer the number of theaters the higher the per-theater average should be. For comparison’s sake, on Friday, its 15th day out, Insidious averaged $1,041 at 2,233 locations. Another comparison: late last year, The King’s Speech expanded to 700 locations on Christmas Eve. Despite freezing temperatures along the East Coast, Tom Hooper’s period drama averaged $3,339 on its 29th day out.

Perhaps The Conspirator – like Cary Joji Fukunaga’s Jane Eyre – is the kind of movie that needed an awards-season release to enhance the film’s buzz and generate more robust business.

After 36 days, Jane Eyre, starring Michael Fassbender and Mia Wasikowska, has brought in $5.87m; that’s not bad, but those are hardly “blockbuster” figures for an arthouse release. To date, Jane Eyre‘s expansion has been quite modest: 247 sites this weekend. Even so, the film’s per-theater average on Friday, when it added $265,000, wasn’t exactly the greatest: $967.

Photo: The Conspirator (Claudette Barius / Roadside Attractions)

Eric Bana, Hanna
Eric Bana, Hanna

Directed by Joe Wright, the thriller Hanna, with Cate Blanchett, Saoirse Ronan, and Eric Bana, pulled in $2.14 million at no. 5 on Friday, April 15, according to studio estimates found at Box Office Mojo. Ahead of Hanna were Carlos Saldanha’s Rio, Wes Craven’s Scream 4, Patrick Wilson-Rose Byrne’s Insidious, and James Marsden-Russell Brand’s Hop.

Next in line were Sean McNamara’s Soul Surfer, featuring AnnaSophia Robb, Helen Hunt, and Dennis Quaid, with $2.125 million at no. 6 and Arthur, starring Russell Brand, Helen Mirren, Jennifer Garner, and Greta Gerwig, with $2.12 million at no. 7.

Arthur, down six slots from no. 1 to no. 7, was also down an alarming 53 percent compared to last Friday. The week before, Arthur opened at the top of the chart, but fell behind Hop once final weekend figures were tallied.

Duncan Jones’ mystery thriller Source Code, starring Jake Gyllenhaal, Michelle Monaghan, and Vera Farmiga, brought in $1.83 million at no. 8.

Rounding out the top twelve were the James Franco-Natalie Portman comedy Your Highness with $1.26 million, the Bradley Cooper-Abbie Cornish thriller Limitless with $1.1 million, Robert Redford-Robin Wright-James McAvoy’s The Conspirator with $1.09 million, Matthew McConaughey-Ryan Phillippe’s The Lincoln Lawyer with $810k.

Gone from the top twelve on Friday: Zack Snyder-Abbie Cornish-Vanessa HudgensSucker Punch, Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules, and Simon Pegg-Nick Frost’s Paul.

Among the top-twelve movies, Rio had the highest per-theater average, $2,666. On its second Friday out, Your Highness had the lowest, $455.

Also among the top twelve (barring newcomers Rio, Scream 4, and The Conspirator), Soul Surfer posted the highest Thursday-to-Friday attendance increase, an impressive up 343.5 percent. Your Highness posted the lowest, up 122 percent.

Photo: Hanna (Alex Bailey / Focus Features)

April 13

Fox’s 3D animated feature Rio, directed by Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs’ Carlos Saldanha, and featuring the voices of Anne Hathaway, Jesse Eisenberg, Leslie Mann, Rodrigo Santoro, Jane Lynch, Jamie Foxx, and others, topped the overseas box office with an impressive $54.9 million in 72 countries, according to Box Office Mojo. Seventy-one percent of Rio‘s revenues came from 3D showings.

Rio’s biggest market was Russia, with $11.3 million, followed by Brazil with $8.4 million, and Mexico with $5.3 million. Rio also performed well in Argentina ($1.5 million), Colombia ($1.4m) and Chile ($1.4m).

The fact that Rio was huge in Brazil, reportedly the highest-ever opening there for an American movie (obviously not adjusted for inflation or 3D surcharges), is understandable, as the film is set in Rio de Janeiro. Also, Rio was heavily promoted in the local media, with Hathaway, Eisenberg, Saldanha, Santoro, and others on hand for press conferences and photo-ops.

Now, to extrapolate that it did well in Mexico, Argentina, Colombia, and Chile because of it’s “Latin flavor,” is quite absurd. It’s as if an American movie set in Bogota would automatically become a huge hit in Buenos Aires, São Paulo, or Mexico City. So, could it simply be that Rio was heavily targeted in those territories as well?

Elsewhere, figures for Rio were good, though not nearly as gigantic as in Russia and Brazil: $3.5 million in China, $2.6 million in Germany, $2.5 million in the United Kingdom and Spain, and $2.4 million in Australia.

The real good news for distributor 20th Century Fox is that Rio opened about 25 percent higher than DreamWorks’ How to Train Your Dragon, which went on to reach $277 million overseas.

The no. 2 movie overseas last weekend was the Adam Sandler-Jennifer Aniston comedy Just Go with It, with $8 million. Cume: $88.3 million.

Natalie Portman Your Highness
Your Highness with Natalie Portman.

April 10 update: Hop, starring James Marsden and the voice of Russell Brand, topped the U.S. and Canada box office this weekend (April 8-10).

Hop grossed $21.7 million according to studio estimates found at according to boxofficemojo.com.

Hop‘s figures were down 42 percent compared to last week, but since this weekend’s newcomers all bowed weakly, the part-animated feature was able to remain on top. To date, Hop has collected $68.2 million domestically. Worldwide: $74.88 million. Cost: $63 million.

Russell Brand’s body fared considerably worse than his voice: Arthur, a remake of the old Dudley Moore-Liza Minnelli-John Gielgud comedy, opened at no. 2, taking in a lowly $12.6 million at 3,276 theaters. That translates into only $3,848 per site.

Helen Mirren, Jennifer Garner, and Greta Gerwig are featured opposite Brand in Jason Winer’s poorly received comedy, which has a mere 25 percent approval rating among the top critics at rottentomatoes.com.

Arthur reportedly cost $40 million; it’ll likely have quite a bit of trouble matching its budget at the domestic box office – let alone recovering it. Russell Brand isn’t exactly a major international box office lure, either – outside the U.S. and Canada, Get Him to the Greek earned $30.4 million and Forgetting Sarah Marshall $42 million, hardly what one would call blockbuster figures. In other words, overseas prospects for Arthur are iffy.

Starring Cate Blanchett, Saoirse Ronan, and Eric Bana, Joe Wright’s thriller Hanna did better than expected this weekend (April 8–10), with $12.3 million – a mere $300,000 behind the heavily marketed Arthur – at 2,535 theaters, according to studio estimates found at Box Office Mojo.

Released by Focus Features, Hanna averaged an okay $4,861 per site. A number of positive notices probably helped the adult-oriented drama/thriller, though Wright’s film wasn’t exactly a critics’ favorite. Among Rotten Tomatoes’ top critics, Hanna has a mediocre 57 percent approval rating, but those who appreciated the film – or at least appreciated elements in it – included the Washington Post‘s Michael O’Sullivan and the New York Times’ Manohla Dargis.

Faring better per theater than all other wide releases this weekend was the Christian-geared “triumph over adversity” drama Soul Surfer. Written and directed by Sean McNamara, and starring AnnaSophia Robb, Helen Hunt, and Dennis Quaid, Soul Surfer pulled in $11.1 million at 2,214 locations, averaging $5,014 per site. Those aren’t huge numbers, of course, but surely neither was the film’s budget.

Critics remained unimpressed by the handling of the “inspirational” story. Soul Surfer received a mere 38 percent approval rating among Rotten Tomatoes‘ top critics.

Starring Academy Award nominee James Franco, Academy Award winner Natalie Portman, and Danny McBride, David Gordon Green’s Your Highness opened at no. 6, grossing only $9.52 million at 2,769 sites. It’s Portman’s first flop of 2011, following solid numbers for both Black Swan (a late 2010 release) and No Strings Attached.

The period comedy’s average was $3,438, or about $400 less than Arthur‘s already poor numbers. Your Highness, which reportedly cost about $50m, has an embarrassing low 10 percent approval rating among Rotten Tomatoes‘ top critics.

Duncan Jones’ infinitely better-received mystery thriller Source Code, starring Jake Gyllenhaal, Michelle Monaghan, and Vera Farmiga, came behind Your Highness, with $9.05 million at no. 7 – down five spots from last weekend, following a drop-off rate of 39 percent. Total: $28.61 million. Worldwide: $34.31 million. Cost: $32 million. Critics and moviegoers have apparently disagreed once again, but, as usual, that’s totally the moviegoers’ fault.

Down four spots at no. 8, the Bradley Cooper-Abbie Cornish thriller Limitless collected $5.69 million (down 39 percent). Total: $64.38 million. Worldwide: $87.38 million. Cost: $27 million.

Among the top-twelve movies, Hop had the highest per-theater average, a none-too-exciting $6,000. Rango had the lowest, $1,146.

Also among the top-twelve, Insidious posted the lowest weekend-to-weekend drop-off rate, down 26.5 percent. Sucker Punch posted the steepest, down 65 percent.

Photo: Your Highness (Universal Pictures)

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Russell Brand’s rabbit voice once again topped the North American box office, followed by Russell Brand’s human voice (and body) according to Friday, April 8, studio estimates.

Hop, in which Brand loans his vocal cords to the Easter Bunny’s son, was no. 1 with $5.5 million. James Marsden co-stars. Hop was followed by Arthur, a remake of the 1981 Dudley Moore vehicle now starring Brand as the goofy millionaire-to-be. Arthur, which also features Helen Mirren, Jennifer Garner, and Greta Gerwig, pulled in a modest $4.5 million.

Doing better than expected was the thriller Hanna, with $4.1 million. Directed by Joe Wright, Hanna stars Saoirse Ronan, Cate Blanchett, and Eric Bana.

The widely panned James Franco-Natalie Portman-Danny McBride period comedy Your Highness scored $3.8 million, followed by Soul Rider with $3.7 million. In the Christian drama Soul Surfer, AnnaSophia Robb plays surfing champion Bethany Hamilton, who lost her arm after being attacked by a shark when she was 13 and later musters up the nerve to once again swim in the ocean. Helen Hunt and Dennis Quaid co-star.

April 4

Hop, in which James Marsden and the Easter Bunny’s teenage son attempt to save Easter, topped the U.S. and Canada box office on the April 1-3 weekend. Directed by Tim Hill, and featuring the voices of Russell Brand and Hugh Laurie, in addition to Elizabeth Perkins, Gary Cole, Kaley Cuoco, and David Hasselhoff (as himself), Hop grossed $37.54 million – about $600,000 less than estimated – according to actuals found at Box Office Mojo.

At no. 2, Duncan Jones’ mystery thriller Source Code, starring Jake Gyllenhaal, Michelle Monaghan, and Vera Farmiga, earned $14.81 million.

At no. 3, James Wan’s Insidious, produced by Paranormal Activity director Oren Peli, opened a little behind Source Code, taking in $13.27 million. The horror drama features Patrick Wilson, Rose Byrne, and Barbara Hershey.

David Bowers’ Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules was the no. 4 movie, collecting $10.04 million, down a hefty down 58 percent.

April 3

Hop, about James Marsden and the Easter Bunny’s teenage son’s attempt to save Easter, easily topped the North American box office on the first weekend of April (1-3). Directed by Tim Hill, and featuring Elizabeth Perkins, Gary Cole, Kaley Cuoco, David Hasselhoff (as himself), and the voices of Russell Brand and Hugh Laurie, Hop grossed $38.11 million at 3,579 locations, averaging a solid $10,650 per theater according to Box Office Mojo. Hop cost a reported $63 million.

Rotten Tomatoes‘ top critics gave Hop a mere 25 percent approval rating, which makes Mars Needs Moms’ dismal box office figures all the more puzzling. Parents will clearly take their kids to watch all kinds of crap; perhaps it’s all about how that crap is packaged and sold.

At no. 2, Duncan Jones’ adult mystery drama Source Code, starring Jake Gyllenhaal, Michelle Monaghan, and Vera Farmiga, earned $15.05 million at 2,961 sites. Despite mostly positive reviews – 85 percent approval rating among Rotten Tomatoes‘ top critics – Source Code‘s per-theater average was a disappointing $5,084, or less than half that of Hop. The good news is that this Summit Entertainment release had a relatively low budget, $32 million.

Moral of the box office story: If you make them dumb, they’ll come and bring their kids and grandparents. Try to make something different and – unless you’re Christopher Nolan – they’ll stay home playing video games or watching college football or some such.

At no. 3, James Wan’s Insidious, produced by Paranormal Activity director Oren Peli, opened a little behind Source Code, taking in $13.49 million at 2,408 locations, averaging $5,605 per site. Among Rotten Tomatoes‘ top critics, Insidious has a mediocre 56 percent approval rating. The horror drama features Patrick Wilson, Rose Byrne, and Barbara Hershey.

If reports are correct, Insidious cost a mere $800,000 to produce, though its marketing campaign surely added millions to that amount. Paranormal Activity 2, for instance, cost very little to make but quite a bit to market.

Vanessa Hudgens, Sucker Punch
Vanessa Hudgens in Zack Snyder’s Sucker Punch

Down three spots from its top position last weekend, David Bowers’ Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules was the no. 4 movie this April 1-3 weekend, collecting $10.2 million – down a hefty down 57 percent – according to studio estimates found at Box Office Mojo. Total: $38.35 million. Cost: $21 million.

At no. 5, Neil Burger’s thriller Limitless (-37.5 percent), starring Bradley Cooper, Abbie Cornish, Anna Friel, and Robert De Niro, grossed $9.4 million. Total: $55.6 million. Worldwide: 69.9 million. Cost: $27 million.

This weekend, Limitless not only passed the $50 million milestone, but it has also earned back its production costs (not including marketing/distribution expenses) at the domestic box office. That’s more unusual than one might think.

In fact, except for Insidious, which had a ridiculously low budget (money was spent marketing the horror flick instead), Limitless is the only film on the top-twelve chart to have “recovered” its production budget at the domestic box office. (On average, studios keep about 50 percent of a film’s gross. Of course, oftentimes production companies/distributors come up with different deals, e.g., foreign pre-sales, and tax breaks that help cover budgetary costs even before the movie is actually released.)

Photo: Sucker Punch (Clay Enos / Warner Bros.)

The censored, “family-friendly,” PG-13 version of Tom Hooper’s The King’s Speech opened with $1.19 million at 1,011 theaters, averaging a paltry $1,181 per site according to studio estimates found at Box Office Mojo. Perhaps that’s because North American “families” don’t care about Oscar winners; they’d much rather go see Easter bunnies talking with Russell Brand’s voice.

For comparison’s sake: last weekend, the original The King’s Speech – that’s the one with all the “fuck” exclamations – collected $1.55 million at 1,062 theaters, averaging $1,467 per site. The Weinstein Co. release stars Oscar winner Colin Firth, who has spoken vehemently against the censored version, Geoffrey Rush, Helena Bonham Carter, Guy Pearce, and Claire Bloom.

Meanwhile, the Cary Joji Fukunaga-directed Jane Eyre, starring Michael Fassbender and Mia Wasikowska, continued to perform well – though not quite as impressively as before.

Despite doubling the number of theaters from 90 to 180, Jane Eyre was up only 27.5 percent this weekend, earning $1.23 million at no. 13 on the North American box office chart. As a result, its per-theater average dropped from $10,778 to $6,872; for a movie in limited release, that isn’t exactly a huge number. Although there’s still room for further expansion, how far that expansion will go remains to be seen.

To date, Jane Eyre, distributed by Focus Features, has collected $3.5 million domestically.

Hot Chickie Movie Sucker Punch Vanessa Hudgens Jamie Chung
“Hot Chick Movie”: Jamie Chung, Vanessa Hudgens diplay quite a bit of cleavage in Zack Snyder’s Sucker Punch.

April 1 update: Starring Bradley Cooper, Abbie Cornish, Anna Friel, and Robert De Niro, Neil Burger’s thriller Limitless topped the North American box office chart on Thursday, March 31, grossing $1.2 million, according to Boxofficemojo.com.

That’ll likely be Limitless’ last time at the top, as Duncan Jones’ well-received thriller Source Code, starring Jake Gyllenhaal, Michelle Monaghan, and Vera Farmiga, opens today. Even so, Limitless should be passing the $50 million milestone on Saturday. Also opening this weekend are Hop starring James Marsden and lots of CGI animation, and the horror flick Insidious.

Down one spot at no. 3 was Zack Snyder’s Sucker Punch, which features Abbie Cornish, Emily Browning, Vanessa Hudgens, and Jena Malone. The much-derided Sucker Punch took in $973,000, thus falling below the $1m-per-day mark on Day 7.

March 31: Zack Snyder dumped from the upcoming Superman reboot, tentatively titled Man of Steel?

Some have been wondering if someone else will be directing Henry Cavill, Amy Adams, Diane Lane, and Kevin Costner, following the critical drubbing and underwhelming box office performance of Snyder’s Sucker Punch, which opened with below the $20 million mark this past weekend.

In The Guardian, Ben Child wrote an interesting piece about Snyder’s position as the director of Man of Steel, who’ll have to answer to The Dark Knight and The Dark Knight Rises’ Christopher Nolan, Man of Steel‘s official producer and co-screenwriter along with David S. Goyer. Time Warner, which owns Warner Bros., surely won’t be happy with another disappointment akin to Bryan Singer’s 2006 reboot Superman Returns, starring Brandon Routh.

About Sucker Punch, Child writes:

Horribly misconceived, puerile, distasteful and hugely wasteful of the talent involved, Snyder’s latest release is Coyote Ugly for the fanboy brigade – or Girl, Interrupted, had Winona Ryder and Angelina Jolie been forced to spend the entire film shooting things while tarted up to the nines in stockings and suspenders. Quite what Snyder was thinking is anyone’s guess, but one can only assume he was given free reign to indulge his cinematic vision following the relative box office successes of 300 and Watchmen (and promptly fluffed his lines).

Child also wonders: “Can one film ruin a career?”

Ask Michael Cimino, who, a year after winning a Best Director Oscar for The Deer Hunter (1978), became responsible for the flop that did United Artists in: Heaven’s Gate (1980). Cimino’s career came to an abrupt halt at that point.

In fact, in the last 31 years Cimino has directed only four features: Year of the Dragon (1985); The Sicilian (1987), which was taken away from him by the studio; Desperate Hours (1990); and The Sunchaser (1996); in addition to a segment from To Each His Own Cinema (2007).

March 28 update: David Bowers’ Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules topped the North American box office chart this past weekend (March 25-27), despite earning about $700,000 less than studio estimates.

Rodrick Rules not only beat the original Diary of a Wimpy Kid, which opened last year with $22.12 million, but also took in more than its $21 million budget on its first weekend out. That’s quite a feat for this 20th Century Fox release.

Directed by Thor Freudenthal, the first Diary of a Wimpy Kid went on to earn $64 million domestically, in addition to a paltry $11.69 million overseas, totaling $75.69 million worldwide – about half of that amount going into Fox’s coffers. Though hardly blockbuster material, Diary of a Wimpy Kid most likely earned a tidy profit on its modest $15 million budget, even considering distribution and marketing costs (and not including ancillary revenues).

Sucker Punch, on the other hand, will find it impossible to match – let alone recover – its reported $82 million production budget at the domestic box office. That’s not exactly great news for Warner Bros., though the international market and ancillary revenues may eventually place the movie in the black.

According to actuals found at Box Office Mojo, Rodrick Rules grossed $23.75 million at no. 1, followed by Zack Snyder’s Sucker Punch, starring Emily Browning, Abbie Cornish, Vanessa Hudgens, and Jena Malone, with $19.05 million at no. 2.

Following Natalie Portman and Alex Pettyfer earlier this year, and joining Michael Peña (The Lincoln Lawyer, Battle: Los Angeles), both Abbie Cornish and Vanessa Hudgens had two movies on North America’s top-ten chart on Friday. Cornish, in fact, had two among the top five: in addition to Sucker Punch, she’s one of the stars of Limitless. Hudgens’ Beastly was the no. 10 movie, though it’s unclear whether it’ll remain among the top ten by the time weekend figures are tallied.

Doing well in limited release were Cary Joji Fukunaga’s Jane Eyre, starring Michael Fassbender and Mia Wasikowska, which scored $970,000 at 90 sites; Tom McCarthy’s Win Win, starring Paul Giamatti and Amy Ryan, which pulled in $464,000 at 23 locations; and, somewhat more modestly, François Ozon’s Potiche, starring Catherine Deneuve and Gérard Depardieu, with $85,000 at 7 venues. (Potiche has taken in $21.53 million overseas, $18.15 million of which in France*.)

Starring Bradley Cooper, Abbie Cornish, Anna Friel, and Robert De Niro, Neil Burger’s thriller Limitless earned $15.05 million at no. 3.

* Bizarrely, Hollywood studios still consider Morocco, Algeria, and Tunisia as part of France.

Also worthy of note is that if studio estimates are correct, the Adam Sandler-Jennifer Aniston comedy Just Go with It, which also features Nicole Kidman, has passed the $100 million milestone. On its seventh weekend, Just Go with It has reached $100.2 million. Worldwide: $152.4 million. Cost: $80 million.

March 22 update: Starring Bradley Cooper, Abbie Cornish, Anna Friel, and Robert De Niro, Neil Burger’s thriller Limitless topped the North American box office over the March 18-20 weekend, grossing $18.9 million according to actuals. Actual figures were pretty close to the estimates released Sunday.

At no. 2, Gore Verbinski’s Rango, featuring the voices of Johnny Depp, Isla Fischer, and Abigail Breslin, collected $15.07 million.

March 20 update: Directed by Neil Burger, and starring Bradley Cooper, Abbie Cornish, Anna Friel, and Robert De Niro, the thriller Limitless was the no. 1 movie at the tepid North American box office this weekend (March 18-20), according to studio estimates.

The Relativity release earned an estimated $19 million at 2,756 locations, averaging an okay $6,894 per site. Limitless reportedly cost a modest $27 million (not including marketing and distribution expenses).

So far this year, the North American box office is down 20 percent compared to last year, which had two back-to-back monster blockbusters in its first three months, James Cameron’s Avatar and Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland. Attendance is down 21 percent according to hollywood.com.

At no. 2, Gore Verbinski’s animated feature Rango, featuring the voices of Johnny Depp, Isla Fischer, Abigail Breslin, and Ned Beatty, collected $15.31 million (down 32 percent). Total: $92.57 million. Cost: $135 million.

There’s simply no way Rango will recover its production cost at the domestic box office (about $250-$270 million would be needed), but it’s doing well overseas, with $73 million to date according to The Hollywood Reporter.

At no. 3, down two spots from last weekend, Battle: Los Angeles took in $14.6 million – down an alarming 59 percent. Featuring Aaron Eckhart, Ramon Rodriguez, Gino Anthony Pesi, Cory Hardrict, Michael Peña, Ne-Yo, and Michelle Rodriguez, the action-sci-fier’s total is $60.6 million. Cost: $70 million.

Overseas, the much-derided Battle: Los Angeles was the no. 1 movie, collecting $29 million in 55 markets. In China alone, where it had the widest opening ever for a foreign film, Battle: Los Angeles grossed $11.8 million.

Behind Limitless, Rango, and Battle: Los Angeles, the Matthew McConaughey vehicle The Lincoln Lawyer opened at no. 4 at the North American box office this weekend (March 18-20), switching places with Paul, which had been ahead on Friday. Lionsgate’s $40 million crime drama earned $13.4 million at 2,707 sites, averaging a relatively modest $4,950 per theater according to studio estimates.

It may be an uphill road for The Lincoln Lawyer, which generally received good reviews (81 percent approval rating among Rotten Tomatoes‘ top critics), to even match its production budget domestically. Also in the cast: Ryan Phillippe, Marisa Tomei, Josh Lucas, William H. Macy, John Leguizamo, and Michael Peña, who now has two movies on the top-five box office chart. The Lincoln Lawyer was directed by Brad Furman.

Opening at no. 5, Greg Mottola’s Paul, featuring Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Jane Lynch, Jason Bateman, Sigourney Weaver, Blythe Danner, and many others, drew $13.15 million at 2,802 locations. The $40 million comedy’s per-theater average was $4,695. Paul has performed much better in the United Kingdom, where it has pulled in more than $21 million. In five markets, Paul‘s international cume currently stands at $28.1 million.

March 18 update: Gore Verbinski’s animated feature Rango topped the chart for the first time since last Thursday. Featuring the voices of Johnny Depp, Isla Fischer, Abigail Breslin, and Ned Beatty, Rango collected $2.04 million according to Box Office Mojo.

Down one spot at no. 2, Battle: Los Angeles took in $2.02 million The action-sci-fier features Aaron Eckhart, Ramon Rodriguez, Gino Anthony Pesi, Cory Hardrict, Michael Peña, Ne-Yo, and Michelle Rodriguez. On Thursday, Battle: Los Angeles was down 33 percent compared to Monday.

Directed by Twilight‘s Catherine Hardwicke, and starring Amanda Seyfried and Gary Oldman, Red Riding Hood brought in $1 million at no. 3. Also in the Red Riding Hood cast: The Twilight Saga‘s Billy Burke, Virginia Madsen, Lukas Haas, Julie Christie, Max Irons, and Shiloh Fernandez.

At no. 5, Disney’s animated 3D feature Mars Needs Moms grossed $720k. After seven days, the Robert Zemeckis-produced, Simon Wells-directed, $150 million-budgeted Mars Needs Moms has finally passed the $10 million mark domestically. Total: $10.08 million. Overseas (up to March 13), Mars Needs Moms has taken in $2.1 million in seven (mostly small to mid-sized) territories.

March 15: At no. 5, Disney’s animated 3D feature Mars Needs Moms grossed $740,000, having thus fallen below the $1m-per-day mark after only four days out.

Produced by Robert Zemeckis, the $150 million-budgeted Mars Needs Moms is now being referred to as one of the biggest box office disasters in history. In fact, Mars Needs Moms is directly responsible for Disney’s decision to scrap Zemeckis’ planned remake of The Beatles’ Yellow Submarine. To date, Mars Needs Moms has grossed $7.65 million.

March 14 update: It was inevitable. Following the abysmal box office take of the Robert Zemeckis-produced, Simon Wells-directed Mars Needs Moms, reportedly budgeted at $150 million but taking in $6.9 million this past weekend, the Walt Disney Co. has canceled Zemeckis’ next project for the studio, a remake of The Beatles’ 1968 animated feature Yellow Submarine, The Hollywood Reporter has announced.

Not that Yellow Submarine had just been sailing along. The Reporter adds that “there were budget issues and a key presentation Zemeckis was to have made before the Beatles heirs kept being pushed back. A December date for the confab was scrapped and never rescheduled.” Additionally, Disney had shut down Zemeckis’ ImageMovers studio in May 2010.

In Zemeckis’ motion-capture remake, the Beatles were to have been played by Cary Elwes, Dean Lennox Kelly, Peter Serafinowicz and Adam Campbell. Winner of a Best Director Academy Award for Forrest Gump, Zemeckis also directed the motion-capture features The Polar Express, Beowulf and A Christmas Carol.

Zemeckis last live-action feature films were What Lies Beneath and Cast Away, both 2000 releases.

March 13: Rango was down one spot on the North American chart this weekend (Mar. 11–13).

Directed by Gore Verbinski, and featuring the voices of Johnny Depp, Isla Fischer, Abigail Breslin, Ned Beatty, Alfred Molina, Bill Nighy, Harry Dean Stanton, Timothy Olyphant, and Ray Winstone, Rango collected $23.1 million – down a not inconsiderable 39.5 percent – as per studio estimates. To date, Rango has pulled in $68.65 million. Cost: $135 million.

At no. 5, Disney’s animated 3D feature Mars Needs Moms can already be considered one of 2011’s biggest box office flops. Budgeted at about $150 millions, Mars Needs Moms grossed a measly $6.8 million in North America this weekend (Mar. 11-13). Its per-theater average was a disastrous – especially for a 3D release – $2,182 at 3,117 locations.

March 7: Directed by Gore Verbinski, and featuring the voices of Johnny Depp, Isla Fischer, Abigail Breslin, Ned Beatty, Alfred Molina, Bill Nighy, Harry Dean Stanton, Timothy Olyphant, and Ray Winstone, the Paramount/DreamWorks animated feature Rango topped the North American box office this past weekend (Feb. 4-6), according to actuals found at Box Office Mojo.

Rango brought in $38.1 million – the biggest opening of 2011 – at 3,917 locations, averaging a solid $9,722 per theater. For comparison’s sake: last year, Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland, starring Johnny Depp, opened with $116 million on the first weekend in March.

Directed by George Nolfi, and starring Matt Damon, Emily Blunt, and veteran Oscar nominee Terence Stamp (Billy Budd, 1962), The Adjustment Bureau opened with a good (and slightly better than some had been anticipating) $21.15 million at 2,840 sites. Apart from True Grit, which is more of a starring vehicle for Jeff Bridges, The Adjustment Bureau was Matt Damon’s best opener since The Bourne Ultimatum in August 2007. The per-theater average of Nolfi’s thriller was $7,450.

At no. 3, new entry Beastly, distributed by CBS Films, brought in $9.9 million at 1,952 theaters, which isn’t bad for a movie that cost $17 million and whose budget has already been mostly covered by foreign pre-sales. The romantic fantasy averaged a just okay $5,047 per site. Directed by Daniel Barnz, Beastly stars I Am Number Four‘s Alex Pettyfer, Vanessa Hudgens, Peter Krause, Mary-Kate Olsen, and Neil Patrick Harris.’


Vanessa Hudgens Sucker Punch images: Clay Enos | Warner Bros.

Robert Pattinson Water for Elephants image: David James | 20th Century Fox | Regency.

Photo: Rio (20th Century Fox)

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19 comments

bargal20 -

What the hell did they need to censor from The King’s Speech to make it PG-13?

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flower -

the movie was pretty but lacked fire! the actors looked good but where was their passion?

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chloe -

I recommend for every one to watch Water For Elephants it is a very good move! And Rob is amazingly gorgeous and he is very good in every scene!! Go and see WFE

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faiza464 -

MY doughter,my son and I watched water for elephant and we all loved it. About ROB he was very good in every scene and I recommend for every one to watch WFE it is a very good move at the end people were applauding.go see it to bleave.

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iphonerg -

This is a excellent Matt Damon movie. Not as good as the Bourne Trilogy, but it is pretty good. I never knew who Anthony Mackie was until this film. I recall him in We are Marshall and this was a good role for him. This film really causes you to think about the Butterfly Effect Theory. It also makes you think about what angels are and which kind of effect they have on society. Anything is possible and I wish that everybody who watches this movie keeps an open mind. It’s kind of like what we think of when we watch What Dreams may Come. I really like the fact that they integrated the Butterfly Effect with the Theory of Relativity.

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iphoneston -

I have been definitely pumped for this movie since I first saw the trailer for it last summer. I’m fresh from viewing it, and I have to say that it’s not quite what I anticipated, though definitely not in a bad way. To those who haven’t seen it, two words: Do it. But be open to the fact that it will almost certainly not be exactly what you expect. Although it appears like a somewhat mindless kick ass, eye candy flick, don’t be misled: there’s a pretty good story here, and its much deeper than your first impression of it will be, also. Oh, and don’t try and foretell the ending. After you watch it, you will have to process what actually happened, but put your thinking cap on- because its deeper than you think.

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Donetta -

Hayden Panettiere really needs to get better acting gigs than “Scream 4,” but until then we’ll pay our $14 to see her on screen.

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Betty b -

Wow.. You dotted every I and crossed every T. You gave facts not assumptions. Let me tell you , I have read some good reviews, but yours is unbiased and refreshing. Thanks

Btw, WFE is really a great movie, I hope they start making great movies like WFE . I enjoyed the entire cast:) especially Tia the elephant.

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Cinema Nostalgia -

That’s a shame about The Conspirator not having a better opening, but I’m not surprised with the prevalent “culture” …or rather lack there of we have at the moment. I saw it this weekend and thought it was EXCELLENT! Solid acting by all players. I know I’m recommending it to everyone I know.

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Mike -

Twenty million dollars was spent in promoting INSIDIOUS? Seriously?

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ingmar -

think Renny Harlin, super hot in the 80’s, lusted after the by the studios (who knows why) then “Cutthroat Island” was his emperor with no clothes moments, whts he got to direct since then?

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George Zach Rodriguez -

While it’s true that “Sucker Puch” didn’t do so well at the box office, it’s a hit among Zack Snyder fans such as myself. Us Zach Snyder fans love “Sucker Punch,” just as we love his “300” and “Watchmen.”

“Sucker Punch” will no doubt be remembered as a cult classic.

Remember 1999’s “Fight Club”? That didn’t do so well at the box office either but now, over 10 years, it’s still remembered and is a cult classic while the biggest hits of that year are long forgotten.

And as for CHW’s comment above: CHW, you are obviously jealous that those young female leads have hot bodies and so I take it that you don’t. In Zach Snyder’s “300” you had all these hot attractive men with perfect bodies, 6-packs and all, roaming around with no shirts on and bikini-style shorts. Am I offended by that? Not at all. Men sex objects? Sure. But so what. I’m not so self centered to hate those actors or Snyder for showing those studs in “300” as sex objects. And I’m no stud myself. In fact I’m seriously over weight and am currently enrolled in a weight loss program. And those half-naked studs shown in “300” don’t make me bitter and jealous but rather inspire me to lose weight and improve my body. Chill angry jealous woman!

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CHW -

Why did they advertise this POS movie to female audiences? I couldn’t go to a movie in the last 8 months without being insulted by the crappy ads. Women are 52% of the population not some pi$$ a$$ minority. We don’t want to sit through movies where the arrogant male director uses his actresses like pathetic sex puppets. You would have to be stupid to put Snyder in charge of any movie with female characters. I never want to see any of these “actresses” (idiot puppets) in film again. And I didn’t even see Sucker Punch I just got the ads for it crammed up my a$$.

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synder is a hack -

synder is a complete hack and should never direct a feature ever again! not even softcore porn

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edward -

I’m not sure this means that Snyder will be booted off Supes’ just because of Sucker Punch. The Cimino/Heaven’s Gate example I understand, but bear in mind, Spielberg made 1941 before he made Raiders of the Lost Ark. Snyder already has two solid movies behind him (300 and Watchmen) so kicking him off the project would seem a little abrupt.
Also, compare Snyder with Michael Bay, in that Bay suffered the bomb The Island before Spielberg reigned him in on Transformers. Christopher Nolan, like Spielberg, should work to bring out the best in Snyder (he understands pacing, mood and his visual flair should yield some interesting results, given Superman’s heavy overtones of Americana) whilst preventing Snyder from unleashing his id, as we’ve witnessed the negative effects of with Sucker Punch.

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Nathan Donarum -

I’m glad to see Rango still going strong. Given its more adult-oriented tone, its quirkiness and its lack of 3D, it could have completely backfired. Fortunately for everyone, especially audiences, that hasn’t happened. I hope that Rango’s success will prove to studios that they don’t need to play it safe with crap like 3D. I really do hope.

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Ter05 -

I’ve seen it twice, once with friends and once with family members who wanted to see it. I enjoyed it both times. The critics seem to hate most of the good movies and I wonder how much their negative blasting of fun movies hurt at the box office. The two young male stars of the movie were wonderful and refreshing, the scenery and interesting village were great, the mystery part of it was fun. The six people I saw it with from age 18 - 68 all liked it a lot.

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Amy Wi -

Mars Needs Moms is the worst movie I ever seen. Waste of money and time. I found bad reviews on it, but I did not imagine it would be so bad. There is not one single thing in the movie to enjoy. Wow what a scam to rob money from people.

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luacheia99 -

Seems that this week’s release were very good considering the bash that the film critic’s reviews.
I saw BATTLE: LOS ANGELES trailer and I can’t understand how people pay to see a movie like this…. I am verryyyyy tired of this kind of movie!
Now… RRH did really good if you consider the reviews! THAT I really didn’t get! Why did people think it would be different? It IS a fairytale with a wolf in the woods, with a girl and two guys, made by a director who until now just did teens movies. The big problem is people itself, who could not disassociate Twilight from RRH. It was a huge mistake from the studio! They could not hire Catherine, because the thematic is the same! Same thematic, same director, same movie!
But the truth is the fairytale is older than Twilight but the screenwriter changed it and did a thematic copy! Lousy job!
But I think, in the end, the movie will do well in the worldwide box office and will profit!

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