Weekend Box Office: Birds Beat Easter Bunny

Easter weekend moviegoers went for the birds again, as ‘Rio’ was the number one film for the second week in a row. I thought that maybe ‘Hop’, the movie about the mischievous, rock ‘n roll-playing Easter Bunny, might pull a holiday-style rabbit out of the hat, but no…

Rio‘ did indeed conquer the box office once again. The animated bird tale was down only 32%, for another $26.6 million over the holiday weekend. By this point, everyone knows that I thought the movie was a brightly colored mediocrity and not worthy of such commercial success. But hey, families got together this weekend and wanted to spend that $3 3D surcharge on something they’d forget about before they finished the drive home, I guess. (This is, obviously, pure and completely wrong speculation.)

At #2 was Tyler Perry’s ‘Madea’s Big Happy Family‘. It racked up an impressive $25.7 million (on 1,500 fewer screens than ‘Rio’, no less) in its opening weekend. Perry seems to do better when he has his signature character Madea in the movies. That might explain why this debut was so much higher than last fall’s ‘For Colored Girls’, which was based on an acclaimed stage play but didn’t have broad African American stereotypes for audiences to latch onto. I’ve only seen one Perry movie, ‘Why Did I Get Married Too’, so I can’t really speak to the man’s oeuvre. But it’s consistently amazing how much dough this dude hauls in.

The third spot went to another debut, Francis Lawrence’s ‘Water for Elephants‘. The Robert Pattison-anchored period romance brought in $17.5 million, which should be enough that its final tally will put it in the “sleeper hit” realm desirable for mid-budget dramas.

The only other debuting movie to crack the Top 10 was Disney’s ‘African Cats‘, a superb nature documentary about two lion prides and a family of cheetahs. It’s gorgeously photographed and emotionally engaging. It made $6.4 million, enough to earn a #6 spot. It probably received an Earth Day bump, but this movie really deserves to be more of a hit. It’s a shame that it flounders in the second half of the Top 10 while ‘Hop’ crosses the $100 million line in its fourth week.

Big ups to a pair of outstanding mid-range genre pictures. The modestly budgeted ‘Hanna‘ (#9, $5.2 million) and ‘Source Code‘ (#10, $5 million) are both hanging tough in the Top 10, even if this will probably be the last weekend for each. It’s good to know that someone is going to movies that aren’t made exclusively for 13-year-old boys.

Top 10:

01 ‘Rio’ (Fox) – $26.6 million

02 ‘Madea’s Big Happy Family’ (Lionsgate) – $25.7 million

03 ‘Water for Elephants’ (Fox) – $17.5 million

04 ‘Hop’ (Universal) – $12.4 million

05 ‘Scream 4’ (Weinstein Co) – $7.1 million

06 ‘African Cats’ (Disney) – $6.4 million

07 ‘Soul Surfer’ (Sony) – $5.6 million

08 ‘Insidious’ (FilmDistrict) – $5.3 million

09 ‘Hanna’ (Focus) – $5.2 million

10 ‘Source Code’ (Summit) – $5 million

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