Box Office Guru Wrapup: Rango Wrangles Top Spot

Plus, The Adjustment Bureau and Beastly follow in second and third.

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This weekend, three new releases targeting different audience segments successfully connected with their crowds and took the top spots at the North American box office. Leading the way with older kids and families was Johnny Depp's animated comedy Rango followed by Matt Damon's sci-fi romance thriller The Adjustment Bureau which played to mature adults. Debuting in third was the romance Beastly which catered to teen girls. The weekend's fourth new release, the raunchy 80s comedy Take Me Home Tonight, opened poorly just outside of the top ten.

Paramount generated the biggest opening of the year so far with its first-place launch of the animated Western Rango which debuted to an estimated $38M this weekend. The PG-rated toon about an eccentric pet lizard who accidentally finds himself in an Old West town full of unusual animals averaged a strong $9,701 from a very wide release in 3,917 theaters. Depp flexed his starpower as the film's marketing campaign was focused around the popular star who voices the title character. The pricey $135M toon played to families but skewed a little bit older due to the more sophisticated tone. The audience was fairly broad with females making up 54% and those over 25 also at 54%.

The studio reported that admissions were higher than those for the debut of its last March toon How To Train Your Dragon which enjoyed 3D surcharges helping it bow to $43.7M. With most studio animated films being presented in 3D now, Rango was that rare 2D entry to still attract moviegoers. Reviews were overwhelmingly positive however paying audiences were not as happy with the product as its CinemaScore grade was a discouraging C+. Dragon earned a robust A and ended up grossing five times its opening weekend tally. Still, animated films in the spring tend to have good legs and Depp is a major draw overseas so the road ahead could be promising.

Audiences chased after Matt Damon as his new fate-based thriller The Adjustment Bureau premiered in second place with an estimated $20.9M. Universal averaged a sturdy $7,375 from 2,840 locations with this PG-13 offering and bested the openings of most recent starring vehicles for the actor outside of his Bourne franchise. 2009's The Informant! opened to $10.5M while last year's Green Zone and Hereafter bowed to $14.3M and $12M, respectively. The studio had experienced shaky box office results with adult dramas over the last few years, but this time the marketing offered an exciting thrill ride while starpower from Damon, Emily Blunt, and Mad Men's John Slattery provided some muscle. The opening was just a few notches below the $23.8M of last fall's Ben Affleck crime drama The Town.

Reviews were generally good for Adjustment with critics pleased by the chemistry between the two leads, but audiences were just moderately pleased as indicated by the film's B CinemaScore grade. The story of a New York politician whose fate gets adjusted to keep him away from the woman he loves played older than most current movies and did well with both genders. 73% of the audience was 30 years and older while 53% was female. Universal acquired rights for North America plus several overseas territories for $62M. Bureau launched in 21 international markets and grossed an estimated $10.5M this weekend from 1,957 playdates.

Opening in third place with respectable results was the teen romance Beastly with an estimated $10.1M from 1,952 theaters for a good $5,182 average. The PG-13 update on the Beauty and the Beast story played to a young female audience as expected and scored a B+ grade from CinemaScore, the best rating among the four new films. Reviews, on the other hand, were mostly negative. Vanessa Hudgens of High School Musical fame starred alongside Alex Pettyfer who appeared again in the top ten with his holdover action pic I Am Number Four. Released by CBS Films, Beastly boasted the smallest theater count of the frame's new titles and had a targeted marketing campaign that was not too expensive so the results were encouraging.

Last weekend's number one film Hall Pass held up well in its second weekend dipping only 33% to an estimated $9M. But with $27M in ten days, the Warner Bros. release is not exactly posting muscular numbers and looks to finish its run with around $50M.

After three weeks of better-than-expected numbers, the hit 3D toon Gnomeo & Juliet suffered a larger drop thanks to the arrival of a new animated movie and fell 48% to an estimated $6.9M. Disney has banked $83.7M to date. Close behind was Liam Neeson's action thriller Unknown with an estimated $6.6M, down 47%, for a $53.1M sum for Warner Bros.

Adam Sandler's comedy Just Go With It dropped 38% to an estimated $6.5M and raised Sony's total to $88.2M. Also reporting a weekend estimate of $6.5M was The Weinstein Co. with its Oscar champ The King's Speech which dipped only 11%. With an impressive $123.8M thus far, the Colin Firth drama has become the top-grossing film ever for the distributor surpassing the $120.5M of Quentin Tarantino's Inglourious Basterds.

Falling 48% to ninth place was the sci-fi pic I Am Number Four which took in an estimated $5.7M upping the tally to $46.4M in 17 days. The concert biopic Justin Bieber: Never Say Never rounded out the top ten with an estimated $4.3M, off 54%, and a solid $68.9M cume.

Opening to weak results in eleventh place was the R-rated comedy Take Me Home Tonight which bowed to an estimated $3.5M from 2,003 sites for a disappointing $1,747 average. Set in the late 1980s, the Topher Grace-Anna Faris pic played to older teens and young adults and met with bad reviews.

The top ten films grossed an estimated $114.6M which was down a steep 37% from last year when Alice in Wonderland opened in the top spot with $116.1M; but up 17% from 2009 when Watchmen debuted at number one with $55.2M.

Author: Gitesh Pandya, Box Office Guru!