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Weekend Box Office: ‘Rio’ Defeats ‘Madea’ Before The Summer Onslaught Begins

Weekend Box Office: 'Rio' Defeats 'Madea' Before The Summer Onslaught Begins

Hollywood doesn’t really recognize the seasons as clearly as you. Which is why even though you’re in school, summer begins in May, and even though you still have a full month of spring, that period usually closes in Hollywood around this time every year. In 2011, “summer” is beginning even earlier with next week’s release of “Fast Five,” sure to be the year’s biggest opener, which means that “Rio” effectively gets its licks in before the hot season begins, scoring a second straight weekend at #1 with a $26 million take.

The ‘toon scored the biggest opening of 2011 last weekend, but the numbers were comparable to a few other ‘11 releases like “Rango,” “Hop” and “Battle: Los Angeles.” Still, the Blue Sky/Fox release posted by far the strongest second-weekend numbers of each of those pictures, and along with an international release that has held up strongly in the wake of overseas launches for “Fast Five” and “Thor,” the picture looks like it will hold on to do better-than-expected numbers. The studio isn’t exactly considering a “Rio 2” quite yet, but the picture could be at $100 million by the end of next weekend, suggesting very positive notices from audiences.

Most were expecting “Madea’s Big Happy Family” to debut to similar numbers as the rest of Tyler Perry’s body of work. The last Madea-related film was “Madea Goes To Jail,” which grabbed $41 million in 2009, and the last broad comedy to carry the Perry name, “Why Did I Get Married Too?” grabbed $29 million last year. It could be “brand” fatigue, as Madea has logged time in five movies over the last six years, though we’re guessing there was a bit of unfamiliarity from Perry’s usual audience, as the title bears a strong similarity to “Madea’s Family Reunion,” which opened to $30 million in 2006.

Of course, Perry might need to find a new niche, as his last film, “For Colored Girls,” registered the worst numbers of any Perry film since the low-key “Daddy‘s Little Girls,” and returning to Madea suggests a “one for them” approach that is definitely registering diminished returns. Still, ignoring previous films in Perry’s body of work, these numbers are still pretty great, as they always are for the cost-conscious multi-hyphenate. The weekend take is especially strong when you consider he has never gotten his certified moneymakers into 3000 theaters, which says less about the writer-producer-director than it does about certain audiences not interested in seeing black people on-screen. Or maybe they just don’t like terrible movies. The last part seems unlikely.

Lots of question marks revolving around what the opening means for “Water For Elephants” but the end result is likely that no one takes a hit with these numbers. A dry, serious romantic drama released in an off-season never really sinks anyone, though the “Titanic”-esque material was definitely eyed as more of a breakout when Fox gave the project the green light considering the book‘s fanbase. Robert Pattinson and Reese Witherspoon would have taken a major hit if the film opened to around $12 million, as both have lead-actor pedigrees they need to maintain. But this effectively keeps Pattinson in good graces with studios before the next “Twilight,” while Witherspoon collects a low-impact rebound after top-lining the severely-underwhelming “How Do You Know.”

With an Easter-weekend bump, “Hop” managed to register the only audience-gainer during the weekend, pushing the film’s total to a solid $100 million. Initially it seemed the film had peaked too early to capitalize on the holiday, but we clearly underestimated the hunger of American audiences to spend a religious holiday together watching a Russell Brand-voiced rabbit shit jelly beans.

Looks like “Scream 4” will be the swan song for the franchise. After a middling debut, the film dropped over 60%. As snarky and meta as they want to be about it, everything about this Screamed (BOOM) “cash-grab.” $50 million is the endgame domestically, but The Weinstein Company can at least console themselves with the possibility that, like its predecessors, “Scream 4” will be a huge rental. The film outpaced the Disney nature doc “African Cats,” which pulled in better-than-expected numbers. Not bad for narrator Samuel L. Jackson, who continues his reign as the actor with the highest grossing films to his name, unless you count the frequently-unseen Frank Welker. You just got trivia‘d.

Again boasting strong legs was the one-armed title character of “Soul Surfer,” the film landing at $30 million after a sub-20% fall. The picture outdistanced “Insidious,” which continued to pull in spectacular numbers, and the scare film should outgross “Scream 4” by a very-wide margin despite that $1.5 million price tag.

Hanna” also held strong, clearing $30 million with this weekend’s take, with international receipts promising to be even stronger. Meanwhile, the lowest drop in the top ten belonged to “Source Code,” which should safely cross $50 million next weekend. Those are fantastic numbers for Summit, who formerly had a reputation for not being able to open anything non-”Twilight” related until they made a killing off their purchase of the domestic rights for “Red” last year. It’s a nice calling-card for Duncan Jones, who can now boast a brainy box office hit on his resume when he takes meetings on thankless tentpole releases with the studios.

In indie theaters, “POM Wonderful Presents: The Greatest Movie Ever Sold” debuted to so-so numbers, scoring $135k on eighteen screens. The highest per-screen debut was “Incendies,” which tallied $54k on three screens, an $18k average. And on a single NYC screen, “Stake Land” nabbed $6.9k. Last weekend’s major newsmaker “Atlas Shrugged Part One,” meanwhile, boosted its theater count to 465, but lost close to half its audience, scoring only $879k. Part Two remains a possibility, but don’t hold your breath. Support your local arthouse, boys and girls.

1. Rio 3D (Fox) – $26.8 million ($81 mil.)
2. Tyler Perry’s Oh Great This Shit Again (Lionsgate) – $25.7 million
3. Water For Elephants (Fox) – $17.5 million
4. Hop (Universal) – $12.5 million ($101 mil.)
5. Scream 4 (The Weinstein Company) – $7.2 million ($31 mil.)
6. African Meow Meows (Disney) – $6.4 million
7. Jesus, Take The Surfboard (Sony) – $5.6 million ($29 mil.)
8. Insidious (FilmDistrict) – $5.4 million ($44 mil.)
9. Hanna (Universal/Focus) – $5.3 million ($32 mil.)
10. Source Code (Summit) – $5.1 million ($45 mil.)

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