‘Rango’ Corrals Win at Weekend Box Office

Paramount Pictures’ Rango easily commanded the North American box office this weekend as the Johnny Depp-voiced feature easily beat out three other newcomers: the Matt Damon and Emily Blunt romantic fantasy The Adjustment Bureau, the Alex Pettyfer and Vanessa Hudgens Beauty and the Beast reimagining Beastly, and the Topher Grace ’80s laffer Take Me Home Tonight. Thanks to the promising debuts of Rango and Bureau, the North American box office saw a big spike from last weekend as the top five was up 39% and top ten up 24%. Still, the current box office continues to lag behind last year’s box numbers on this weekend when another Johnny Depp feature, Alice In Wonderland, debuted with an amazing $116 million.

Right now Johnny Depp could open an envelope and people would pay to see it. They turned out en masse to the aforementioned Alice, his star power helped The Tourist become a quarter-billion dollar global winner and now he has helped turn the quirky animated tale Rango into a $38 million winner on its opening weekend on 3,917 screens. The nowadays rare 2D computer-animated feature was directed by Gore Verbinski (Pirates of the Caribbean) and also features the voice talents of Ilsa Fisher, Bill Nighy, Ned Beatty and Abigail Breslin. The wild, at times just plain weird PG-rated comedy was a hit with critics (88% approval on Rotten Tomatoes).

Universal landed the number two spot with the weekend’s other notable debut, the sci-fi romantic flick The Adjustment Bureau. Directed by George Nofi and based on a story by Philip K. Dick, the Matt Damon film found its opening weekend destiny to the tune of $20.9 million from 2,840 screens. The multi-genre film benefited from an effective ad campaign that reached out and appealed with a fairly wide range of demographics. Reaction from the nation’s critics was also on the positive side with the film landing a 69% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

With a majority of ticket buyers opting for Johnny the Lizard King and Matt Damon the candidate this weekend, the other two debuts were left in the dust. In third place was CBS Films’ Beastly with a flat $10.5 million from 1,952 screens in its debut. Starring Alex Pettyfer (I Am Number Four) and Vanessa Hudgens (Sucker Punch), the film was aimed squarely at the under-25 crowd and even they didn’t show up. Reviews were most negative (21% on RT) with most critics deeming that the film lived up to its title.

The other weekend opener was one that didn’t even make it into the top ten; the Topher Grace comedy Take Me Home Tonight. The 1980s-set comedy fared a little better with critics than Beastly did by garnering a 30% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes (take that for what it’s worth), but in the end that didn’t help much at all. Landing on 2,003 screens, the Relativity Pictures release grossed a totally un-tubular $3.5 million for the weekend. The film found a little bit of good news this weekend as the soundtrack landed at number seven on iTunes in regards to sales.

After debuting with a weak $13.5 million last weekend, the new Farrelly Brothers comedy Hall Pass stabilized itself a bit to land in the number four spot this weekend. Off a decent 33%, the Owen Wilson flick grossed an estimated $9 million from 2,950 screens to bring its ten-day total to the $27 million mark. The R-rated film should finish with a gross between $40-45 million.

Disney’s 3D animated hit Gnomeo & Juliet took a direct hit from the debut of Rango to the tune of a 48% decline but still showed signs of life in its fourth weekend to land in fifth place. On 2,984 screens, the comedy earned an estimated $6.9 million to bring its total to the $84 million mark and should romance its way past the $100 million mark in the next few weeks. As of Thursday, the film has earned an additional $37 million from overseas sales.

Liam Neeson’s action thriller Unknown dropped by 47% in its third weekend to land in sixth place while adding $6.6 million from 2,913 screens. To date, the film has earned $53.1 million to date domestically. The $70 million mark is still a possibility for the Warner/Dark Castle production.

Seventh and Eighth place were a virtual dead heat with a mere one thousand dollars separating the two in regards to estimates. Adam Sandler’s comedy Just Go With It added another $6.5 million to its domestic total which now stands at $88 million. Like Gnomeo, the film should cross the $100 million threshold within shortly. Also reporting the same amount, albeit with that extra one thousand bucks, was the Oscar-winning The King’s Speech. The Best Picture winner began its post-awards run with a $6.501 million estimated take from 2,240 screens in its fifteenth week of release. Off 11%, the Weinstein Company release has earned a majestic $124 million in domestic sales so far and could reach $140 million prior to its home video debut on April 19th. Overseas, the film continued its winning ways with a $154 million gross as of last Thursday.

Dropping by half in round three to land in ninth place was Disney’s sci-fi under performer I Am Number Four with $5.7 million from 2,903 screens. After three weeks of release, the D.J. Caruso-directed film has nabbed $46.4 million and should finish close to the $60 million mark. Rounding out the top ten this weekend was the Justin Bieber documentary Never Say Never which lost 54% of its audience to earn $4.2 million from 2,254 screens to bring its one month total to the $68.8 million mark. The film should finish its run near the $75 million mark.

Next weekend, three new films will battle Rango for the top spot. Sony will debut the heavily-hyped sci-fi action epic Battle: Los Angeles; Disney will inform moviegoers that Mars Needs Moms in the form of their latest 3D animated offering; and Warner will debut Red Riding Hood, a darker take on the Little Red Riding Hood tale which is directed by Catherine Hardwicke (Twilight) and stars Amanda Seyfried.

We’ll have all these films eligible for you to predict their box office gross next weekend in our interactive Weekend Box Office Prophet Game.

– Shawn Fitzgerald

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