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'Wimpy Kid' continues roll for brands over stars, 'Alice' keeps rolling overseas

Wimpy1 The big stories at the box office this weekend were how many foreigners keep falling down the rabbit hole and how many Americans fell for the underdog.

In yet another sign that brands are trumping stars at the domestic box office, the low budget, star-free "Diary of a Wimpy Kid," based on the popular comic and book series, scored a surprising victory over the Jennifer Aniston-Gerard Butler romantic comedy "The Bounty Hunter" and the Jude Law science-fiction action picture "Repo Men."

A studio-estimated $21.8-million opening is a big win for "Wimpy Kid," which 20th Century Fox's Fox 2000 label spent just $15 million to produce. Audiences gave it a strong average grade of A-, according to market research firm CinemaScore, and with some students still on spring break, the family film should end up a very solid success.

Prospects are less certain for "Bounty Hunter," which cost a little over $40 million and opened to $21 million with an average audience grade of B-. "Repo Men," meanwhile, is a major flop, debuting to just $6.2 million against a $32-million production budget. Moviegoers gave it a B.

"Alice in Wonderland" stayed on top of the box-office charts in the U.S. and Canada, but its international performance remains most impressive. The Tim Burton-directed 3-D blockbuster saw ticket sales decline 41% in foreign countries where it was playing last weekend, compared with 45% at home.

AliceWonderland Like "Avatar" before it, the latest big-budget 3-D event movie is generating the majority of its business overseas: $300 million so far compared with $265.8 million domestically. With debuts still to come in big foreign markets including France, China, Spain, Japan and Brazil, that differential should grow substantially in the coming weeks.

Another 3-D event movie, meanwhile, got off to a good early start overseas this weekend. Paramount debuted the DreamWorks Animation picture "How to Train Your Dragon" in Russia to $7.5 million, ahead of the openings of such films as "Up" and "Kung Fu Panda." It opens this week in the U.S. and Canada, Latin America, Australia and certain countries in Europe and Asia.

Its overall prospects for next weekend remain uncertain, however, as the battle to book 3-D screens for the movie against ongoing competition from "Alice" and next week's "Clash of the Titans" is fierce.

Here are the top 10 movies at the domestic box office, according to studio estimates and Hollywood.com:

1. "Alice in Wonderland" (Disney): $34.5 million on its third weekend, down 45%. $47 million overseas from 49 territories. Domestic total: $265.8 million. International total: $300 million.

2. "Diary of a Wimpy Kid" (Fox 2000): Opened to $21.8 million.

3. "The Bounty Hunter" (Sony/Relativity): Opened to $21 million.

4. "Repo Men" (Universal/Relativity): Opened to $6.2 million.

5. "She's Out of My League" (Paramount/DreamWorks): $6 million on its second weekend, down 38%. Domestic total: $20 million.

6. "Green Zone" (Universal): $6 million on its second weekend, down 58%. $7.4 million overseas in 23 territories. Domestic total: $24.7 million. International total: $20.4 million.

7. "Shutter Island" (Paramount): $4.8 million on its fifth weekend, down 42%. $15.1 million overseas in 48 territories. Domestic total: $115.8 million. International total: $106.5 million.

8. "Avatar" (Fox/Dune/Ingenious): $4 million on its 14th weekend, down 39%. $13 million overseas in 68 territories. Domestic total: $736.9 million. International total: $1.94 billion.

9. "Our Family Wedding" (Fox Searchlight): $3.8 million, down 50% on its second weekend. Domestic total: $13.7 million.

10. "Remember Me" (Summit): $3.3 million, down 59% on its second weekend. Domestic total: $13.9 million.

-- Ben Fritz

Upper photo: Zachary Gordon in a promotional picture for "Diary of a Wimpy Kid." Credit: 20th Century Fox

Lower photo: Helena Bonham Carter in "Alice in Wonderland." Credit: Disney

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