Box Office Guru: G.I. Joe Rocks Easter Weekend

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Testosterone ruled the Easter frame as the 3D action sequel G.I. Joe: Retaliation opened at number one, but Tyler Perry's latest offering Temptation also scored a strong debut of its own in third place. The animated holdover The Croods held up well in its second weekend pulling in families over the school holiday helping the box office beat Easter business from the past two years.

Paramount topped the charts with the franchise hit G.I. Joe which debuted to an estimated $41.2M over the Friday-to-Sunday period and $51.7M since its launch on Wednesday night with 7:00pm shows. The PG-13 flick averaged a muscular $11,078 from 3,719 locations over the three-day weekend period with 45% of the business coming from 3D screens including 303 IMAX sites which kicked in $4.8M.

Though definitely a strong opening, the 4.5-day figure still came in below the $54.7M three-day non-holiday opening of its 2009 predecessor G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra. The first pic was released over the busier summer period in 4,000+ locations but the sequel had higher 3D prices and added starpower from Dwayne Johnson and Bruce Willis. Channing Tatum, who played a central role in the first film, had a more supporting role in the followup which was delayed from its original June 29, 2012 date.

But Retaliation should still be a big moneymaker thanks to a smaller production budget ($130M vs $175M) and substantial growth from international markets which should more than make up for domestic shortfalls allowing the new film to finish higher than Cobra's $302M global final.

Domestically, the bullet-filled action pic skewed heavily male as expected. Studio research showed that males made up 68% of the crowd while 59% were 25 or older. Reviews were weak - standard for these types of sequels - but audiences liked what they paid for as the CinemaScore grade was an encouraging A-.

Joe kicked off its run with $10.5M on Thursday, including $2.2M from Wednesday night shows. The Good Friday holiday saw sales climb 48% to $15.5M, Saturday was flat with $15.6M, and Easter Sunday is estimated to dip by 35% to $10.1M. Action sequels like these tend to be front-loaded but the domestic final should be able to break $100M and possibly end near the $110M mark. Cobra grossed $150.2M.

Retaliation really saw its good fortune from overseas markets which generated an estimated $80.3M debut resulting in a spectacular global opening of $132M this weekend. Compared to the same markets for Cobra, Retaliation's opening was nearly twice as big thanks in part to 3D prices and key markets becoming more lucrative since 2009. Russia led the way with $11M, Korea banked $6M, and Mexico scored $6M. The new Joe still has 25% of the world to come including China on April 15 and Japan on June 8 so a worldwide haul of $400M is possible.

Families flocked to the animated comedy The Croods over the Easter school holidays as the DreamWorks pic grossed an estimated $26.5M, sliding 39% in its second weekend. Compared to other spring toons with the bunny holiday helping the sophomore frame, the pre-historic family dropped a little harder than 2011's Rio (33%) and 2010's How To Train Your Dragon (34%), but fell a little less than 2008's Horton Hears a Who (45%).

With a sturdy $88.6M in ten days, Croods should be able to keep its momentum going for weeks to come since there are absolutely no kidpics with G or PG ratings opening for nearly two months. A final domestic tally of about $160M could result making it the best performance for a DreamWorks Animation non-sequel since Dragon. Overseas, Croods used the holiday to bank a sizable $52.5M from 59 markets shooting the international total to $230M. Global is $296.6M and will smash $300M on Monday.

The Tyler Perry brand showed off its strength and durability with the impressive debut of the infidelity drama Temptation which opened to an estimated $22.3M from 2,047 theaters for a stellar $10,894 average. That was almost identical to G.I. Joe's average. Rated PG-13, Temptation delivered the best opening ever for a Perry film that wasn't a sequel or featured his signature Madea character. Plus it was the tenth Tyler Perry film (ninth as director) over eight years to debut north of $20M. Despite having so much content, the filmmaker's fans continue to come out and spend on his new offerings.

Temptation was positioned a bit more as an erotic thriller which made it look like something a bit different. The audience breakdown was similar to past films from the mogul - 70% female and 79% 25 and older. Easter has been used successfully many times in the past to launch new Perry films and it worked for Lionsgate yet again as the fan base came out in better than expected numbers. The gross even doubled the opening of last fall's Alex Cross which featured Perry as just an actor and in the title role. The CinemaScore was an A- and Perry's fourteen films over the past eight years have now grossed a stunning $696M domestically with all carrying modest budgets.

The White House kidnapping thriller Olympus Has Fallen dropped a large 54% thanks in part to a new action tentpole hitting the marketplace. Gerard Butler's hit film grossed an estimated $14M raising the ten-day total to a sturdy $54.7M for FilmDistrct heading to an impressive final in the $85M vicinity. Flirting with the double century mark, Disney's Oz the Great and Powerful took in an estimated $11.6M on Easter weekend, down 46%, for a $198.3M domestic total. Thanks to a new opening in China (official figures not yet released, but estimated to be near $10M over three days), the franchise flick grossed an estimated $22.2M from overseas markets boosting the international cume to $214M and the worldwide haul to $412.3M on its way to the $500M mark.

The critically-panned sci-fi romance The Host failed to pull in business from Twilight fans and finished outside the top five in sixth place with an estimated $11M. Averaging a dull $3,436 from an aggressive release in 3,202 locations, the PG-13 pic was based on the best-selling book by author Stephenie Meyer which followed her mega-successful vampire saga. Critics trashed the Open Road release and fans decided to skip this one. The target audience consisted of young females and its B- CinemaScore indicated not much satisfaction from those ticket buyers that did come out.

The Halle Berry hit The Call dropped 46% to an estimated $4.8M giving Sony $39.5M to date. Tina Fey followed with a similar 47% decline for her new comedy Admission which grossed an estimated $3.3M putting Focus at a disappointing $11.8M.

The bikini-girls-with-guns pic Spring Breakers ranked ninth with an estimated $2.8M, off 43%, and a modest $10.1M overall for A24. Tumbling 70% in its third round was the all-star comedy flop The Incredible Burt Wonderstone which collected an estimated $1.3M. Warner Bros. has taken in a weak $20.6M and won't finish with much more.

After being MIA for a year and a half, red hot actor Ryan Gosling returned to the big screen in the platform release The Place Beyond The Pines along with co-star Bradley Cooper and found sensational results with an estimated $270,000 opening from just four theaters for a scorching $67,546 average. Focus will expand beyond New York and Los Angeles next weekend with 13 additional markets and will go nationwide on April 12. The R-rated drama earned good reviews from critics.

The top ten films grossed an estimated $138.7M which was up 20% from last year's Easter frame when The Hunger Games stayed at number one for a third time with $33.1M; and up 21% from 2011's holiday when Rio remained in the top spot with $26.3M in its sophomore session.

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