by Brandon Gray for BoxOffice Mojo
Rio remained perched atop the box office over Easter weekend, edging out another strong start for a Tyler Perry movie and a solid beginning for Water for Elephants.
The animated comedy drew an estimated $26.8 million (57 percent of which from 3D presentations), down 32 percent. It made less than How to Train Your Dragon's $29 million on Easter weekend last year and grossed more than Dr. Seuss' Horton Hears a Who! on Easter weekend 2008, though its ten-day tally trailed both titles. With an $81.3 million haul so far, Rio extended its lead over Rango and Hop through the same point, which each had around $68 million. However, in terms of estimated attendance, it's a dead heat, considering Rio's 3D inflation.
Tyler Perry's Madea's Big Happy Family landed smack dab in the middle of his last two Easter debuts. The third Madea-titled movie mustered an estimated $25.8 million at 2,288 locations, grossing more than Meet the Browns ($20.1 million on Easter 2008) but less than Why Did I Get Married Too? ($29.3 million) last year. It also declined from the previous Madea movies: Madea Goes to Jail opened to $41 million in 2009, while Madea's Family Reunion started at $30 million in 2006. Big Happy Family's dip could be attributed to its presentation as just another Madea movie and its titular similarity to Family Reunion. Distributor Lionsgate's exit polling indicated that Madea's Big Happy Family's audience was 72 percent female, 69 percent 25 years of age and older and 81 percent black, which was normal for a Perry movie.
Water for Elephants corraled an estimated $17.5 million at 2,817 locations, which was within the mid-pack range of comparable titles. It was a far cry from Dear John and was even behind The Time Traveler's Wife, but it more than doubled the first weekend gross of the last non-Twilight Robert Pattinson vehicle Remember Me. Adjusted for ticket-price inflation, Water for Elephants' start was on par with A Walk in the Clouds and The Notebook, albeit with more locations. The movie was marketed as a lush romantic drama, bolstered by its best-selling novel basis and its striking circus backdrop. Pattinson batted in his lovelorn wheelhouse, but Reese Witherspoon had top billing and the movie's audience seemed to skew older. Distributor 20th Century Fox's research showed that 70 percent of the audience was female and 70 percent was 25 years of age and older.
The weekend's other new nationwide release, African Cats, nabbed an estimated $6.4 million at 1,220 locations. Its Disneynature predecessors, Earth (2009) ($8.8 million) and Oceans ($6.1 million), weren't precise apples-to-apples comparisons because they had mid-week launches. The franchise always debuts on "Earth Day" April 22, regardless of the day of the week. That being said, African Cats seemed weaker than Oceans because it didn't burn off any demand prior to the weekend.
Thanks to its Easter theme, Hop bounced back by 16 percent to an estimated $12.5 million. That lifted its total to $100.5 million in 24 days, and it became the third movie of the year to cross the $100 million mark, following Rango ($119.5 million) and Just Go With It ($102.4 million).
On the other hand, Scream 4 bled 62 percent to an estimated $7.2 million for a soft $31.2 million total in ten days. The second-weekend drop was more severe than any prior Scream or Scary Movie, but it was fairly typical for a horror movie. Atypical for horror, Insidious eased 20 percent to an estimated $5.4 million, increasing its sum to $44.2 million in 24 days. The underdog is now certain to maintain its gross dominance over Scream 4, even if it won't ultimately be as exceptional in the supernatural horror context.
Several other pictures held well in addition to Insidious. Soul Surfer dipped 23 percent to an estimated $5.6 million, lifting its total to $28.7 million in 17 days. Hanna retreated 28 percent to an estimated $5.3 million for a $31.7 million sum in 17 days, while Source Code fell only 19 percent to an estimated $5.1 million for a $44.7 million tally in 24 days.