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Hollywood arrives at the slowest box office weekend of the year [updated]

April 25, 2010 | 11:37 am

Dragon Amid the usual spin from movie-studio executives discussing box-office results Sunday morning, there was no ignoring one basic fact: Not many people went to the movies this weekend.

"I thought we'd have this piece of the pie, but I also thought that the overall pie would be bigger," said Stephen Friedlander, CBS Films executive vice president of distribution, referring to the soft but not terrible opening of his studio's "The Back-Up Plan."

Total ticket sales in the U.S. and Canada from Friday through Sunday were an estimated $100 million, according to Hollywood.com. That's easily the lowest total of the year, well below the previous bottom of $113.9 million on the weekend of Feb. 6, when "Dear John" and "From Paris With Love" opened.

Mid-April is usually not a hot period for moviegoing as studios hold off big releases in anticipation of summer tentpole season starting in May. Nonetheless, this weekend was dismal even for the time of year, with total revenue down 12% from the same weekend last year.

"How to Train Your Dragon" was No. 1 essentially by default, as on its fifth weekend it outpaced the modest start for the Jennifer Lopez comedy "The Back-Up Plan" and the dreary $9.6-million debut of "The Losers."

(For more on the openings of these two films, see our initial box office post.)

Both movies got average audience grades of B, but "The Back-Up Plan," which drew a 71% female audience, is expected to hold on better against next weekend's male-centric "Nightmare on Elm Street" and the anticipated massive opening of "Iron Man 2" on May 7.

ClashThe only good news at the domestic box office was for several holdovers,  including DreamWorks Animation's "Dragon," which continued its strong run by falling 23% to $15 million, and 20th Century Fox's Steve Carrell-Tina Fey comedy "Date NIght," which was down 37% on its third weekend to $10.6 million.

"Kick-Ass" didn't get a good hold on its second weekend, however, falling 52% and knocking down Lionsgate's hopes of recovering from a decent but disappointing debut.

There was some positive news overseas, where "The Back-Up Plan" opened to a solid $800,000 in Mexico. "Alice in Wonderland" had a very strong $5.7-million debut in Brazil and fell only 29% on its second weekend in Japan to $10.2 million. "Clash of the Titans" continues to be the biggest movie in international markets, taking in $32 million overseas compared to $26.7 million for "Alice," which has been out longer.

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

1. "How to Train Your Dragon" (DreamWorks Animation/Paramount): $15 million on its fifth weekend, down 23%. $11 million overseas in 60 foreign territories. Domestic total: $178 million. International total: $194 million.

2. "The Back-Up Plan" (CBS): Opened to $12.25 million. $910,000 overseas in Mexico and the Phillipines, where it was distributed by Sony Pictures.

3. "Date Night" (Fox/Dune): $10.6 million on its third weekend, down 37%. $7 million overseas in 48 foreign markets. Domestic total: $63.5 million. International total: $27.5 million.

4. "The Losers" (Dark Castle/Warner Bros.): Opened to $9.6 million.

5. "Kick-Ass" (Lionsgate): $9.5 million on its second weekend, down 52%. $2.7 million overseas in six foreign territories, where it was distributed by Universal Pictures. Domestic total: $34.9 million. International total: $21.4 million.

6. "Clash of the Titans" (Warner Bros./Legendary): $9 million on its fourth weekend, down 42%. $32 million overseas in 60 foreign markets. Domestic total: $145.6 million. International total: $240.4 million.

7. "Death at a Funeral" (Sony Screen Gems): $8 million on its second weekend, down 51%. Domestic total: $28.5 million. 

8. "Oceans" (DisneyNature): $6 million on its first weekend. Domestic total since opening Thursday: $8.5 million. [Updated at 1:20 p.m. to include total since Thursday.]

9. "The Last Song" (Disney): $3.7 million on its fourth weekend, down 38%. Domestic total: $55.4 million.

10. "Alice in Wonderland" (Disney): $2.2 million on its eighth weekend, down 39%. $26.7 million overseas in 54 foreign countries. Domestic total: $327.5 million. International total: $548.5 million.

-- Ben Fritz

Top photo: A scene from "How to Train Your Dragon." Credit: DreamWorks Animation

Bottom photo: Sam Worthington in "Clash of the Titans." Credit: Jay Maidment / Warner Bros.

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