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Rango Box Office: Animated Western Has Year’s Strongest Debut

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Rango movie chameleonRango movie with the titular chameleon voiced by Johnny Depp: Gore Verbinski’s computer-animated comedy Western boasts the year’s biggest opening weekend to date at the domestic box office. But will that be enough for the $135 million production?
  • Rango box office: Boasting the year’s biggest opening weekend so far in the domestic market, Gore Verbinski’s computer-animated comedy Western is on its way to becoming a sizable global hit. But will Rango’s commercial success be “sizable” enough for it to recover its high-end budget? Johnny Depp heads the voice cast.

Rango box office: Directed by Gore Verbinski and voiced by Johnny Depp, DreamWorks’ computer-animated Western had a strong domestic debut – but was it strong enough?

Ramon Novarro Beyond Paradise

March 4–6 weekend box office: The latest collaboration between Pirates of the Caribbean movie franchise director Gore Verbinski and star Johnny Depp, the computer-animated comedy Western Rango topped the North American (U.S. and Canada only) box office chart, grossing $38.1 million from 3,917 theaters according to final studio figures found at

That’s 2011’s biggest opening weekend to date. The previous champ, Michel Gondry’s superhero flick The Green Hornet, debuted with $33.5 million in mid-January.

Now, is Rango’s $38.1 million a big enough figure for this DreamWorks Animation/Paramount Pictures release budgeted at a reported $135 million (as always, not including marketing and distribution expenses)?

Rango vs. Alice in Wonderland

For comparison’s sake: Directed by Tim Burton and starring Mia Wasikowska and Rango’s Johnny Depp, the Walt Disney Studios’ Alice in Wonderland opened with $116.1 million from 3,728 locations in March 2010, ending its run with $334.2 million domestically, in addition to $691.3 million internationally. Worldwide total: $1.025.5 billion. Budget: $200 million.

It goes without saying that Rango has no chance of getting even close to Alice in Wonderland’s final figures, but, depending on how it performs internationally, it could turn out to be a profitable endeavor.

Besides three-time Best Actor Academy Award nominee Johnny Depp (Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl, 2003; etc.) as the titular chameleon who ends up as the sheriff of a small town in California’s Mojave Desert, the Rango voice cast includes Isla Fischer as the hero’s love interest, a short-tempered but kind-hearted desert iguana named Beans, plus Alfred Molina, Bill Nighy, Harry Dean Stanton, Timothy Olyphant, Ray Winstone, and Stephen Root.

Also: Oscar nominees Abigail Breslin (Little Miss Sunshine, 2006) as a young and sweet cactus mouse named Priscilla, and Ned Beatty (Network, 1976) as the town mayor, the sly old Tortoise John.

Solid global take – but hardly solid enough for such a costly production

Update: The Gore Verbinski and Johnny Depp collaboration Rango ultimately collected $123.5 million domestically and $122.2 million internationally. Worldwide total: $245.7 million.

That’s generally a good global figure, but in Rango’s case it was far from enough for the computer-animated comedy Western to break even at the box office.

Its top international markets were Russia/CIS ($11.8 million), the United Kingdom/Ireland ($11.3 million), France ($10.6 million), Australia ($10.5 million), Mexico ($10.5 million), Spain ($7.3 million), Italy ($6.8 million), Germany ($6.4 million), and Brazil ($5 million).

Rango Box Office: Animated Western Has Year’s Strongest Debut” notes

At a distant no. 2, George Nolfi’s sci-fi thriller The Adjustment Bureau had a less-than-stellar opening. Matt Damon and Emily Blunt star.

At no. 3, CBS Films’ Beauty and the Beast-inspired romantic fantasy Beastly had an underwhelming debut. Alex Pettyfer and Vanessa Hudgens star; Daniel Barnz directed.

Unless otherwise noted, “Rango Box Office: Animated Western Has Year’s Strongest Debut” box office information via Box Office Mojo. Budget info – which should be taken with a grain of salt – via BOM and/or other sources (e.g., the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, Screen Daily, The Hollywood Reporter, Variety,, etc.).

Comments about Rango and other titles being hits/profitable or flops/money-losers at the box office (see paragraph below) are based on the available data about their production budget, additional marketing and distribution expenses (as a general rule of thumb, around 50 percent of the production cost), and worldwide gross (as a general rule of thumb when it comes to the Hollywood studios, around 50–55 percent of the domestic gross and 40 percent of the international gross goes to the distributing/producing companies).

Bear in mind that data regarding rebates, domestic/international sales/pre-sales, and other credits and/or contractual details that help to alleviate/split production costs and apportion revenues are oftentimes unavailable, and that reported international grosses may be incomplete (i.e., not every territory is fully – or even partially – accounted for).

Also bear in mind that ancillary revenues (domestic/global television rights, home video sales, streaming, merchandising, etc.) can represent anywhere between 40–70 percent of a movie’s total take. However, these revenues and their apportionment are only infrequently made public.

Rango movie image: DreamWorks Animation | Paramount Pictures.

Rango Box Office: Animated Western Has Year’s Strongest Debut” last updated in September 2023.

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