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Box Office: 'Battle: Los Angeles' wins weekend, leaving 'Mars Needs Moms' in dust [Updated]

March 13, 2011 |  9:59 am

Battlewide "Battle: Los Angeles," this weekend's No. 1 movie, caused some damage at the box office -- but it was "Mars Needs Moms" that truly got demolished.

While Sony's action film starring Aaron Eckhart blew away all the competition, grossing a strong studio-estimated $36 million, Walt Disney Studio's big budget animated film was a major flop, debuting to only $6.8 million. The weekend's other new wide release, "Red Riding Hood," Warner Bros.' gothic retelling of the classic fairy tale, collected a so-so $14.1 million.

While young men loved the movie, general audiences gave it an average grade of B, according to market research firm CinemaScore. Because the film has an ethnically diverse cast that includes Latina actress Michelle Rodriguez and African American singer Ne-Yo, Sony attributed much of the film's success to its ability to attract minority audiences.

"Battle: LA," was co-financed by Sony and Relativity Media for about $75 million, according to two people close to the production, although a Sony spokesperson said tax incentives brought that figure down to $70 million.

Overseas, where the movie is titled "World Invasion: Battle: Los Angeles" in some countries to broaden its appeal, Sony also saw strong results. It opened to $16.7 million in 33 foreign markets. It was the No. 1 film in Russia, where it grossed $4.6 million, and also took the top spot in Korea, the United Kingdom and India.

Marswide Audiences who saw "Mars Needs Moms" seemed to enjoy the movie as much as "Battle: Los Angeles," also giving the film a B grade. Unfortunately for Disney, there were far fewer moviegoers delivering that rating. On the surface, the movie performed much like any other animated film, except of course for its scale: The movie played best with families, who were 88% of the audience, and 68% of its business came from 3-D receipts.

But that wasn't nearly enough to save the roughly $150 million production about a 9-year-old boy who travels to outer space to rescue his mother from Martians. The pricey film was produced by filmmaker Robert Zemeckis' ImageMovers Digital, which previously partnered with Disney on 2009's "A Christmas Carol." But the collaboration between the companies ended last year when Disney shut down the Northern California digital production studio and took a write down on its investment.

The moderate debut for "Red Riding Hood" came from its largely female audience, 56% of whom were younger than 24. The movie, which stars Amanda Seyfried as a strong-willed teenager in a love triangle, cost Warner Bros. $42 million. While the movie is off to an OK start, it won't come close to replicating the success of director Catherine Hardwicke's 2008 "Twilight." Despite poor reviews, audiences didn't hate the film, giving it an average grade of B-.

Last weekend's No. 1 film, Paramount's computer-animated "Rango," held up well. After opening to a decent $38.1 million, the film dropped only 39%, grossing $23.1 million for a strong second place finish this weekend. It was unclear if moviegoers would continue to turn up to see "Rango" after initial audiences gave it the weak average grade of C-plus. But it appears the movie, which stars Johnny Depp as the voice of a chameleon, will have a healthy box office life.

[Updated at 10:55 a.m.: Ahead of its U.S. debut next weekend, Simon Pegg’s “Paul” has already done a healthy amount of business overseas. The film about two men on a road trip who run into an alien grossed $2.5 million in 4 foreign markets this weekend, raising its international total to $25.7 million.

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

1. “Battle: Los Angeles” (Sony/Relativity): Opened to $36 million. $16.7 million in 33 foreign markets.

2. “Rango” (Paramount): $23.1 in its second weekend, down 39%. Domestic total: $68.7 million. $23 million in 46 foreign markets. International total: $46 million.

3. “Red Riding Hood” (Warner Bros.): Opened to $14.1 million.

4. “The Adjustment Bureau” (MRC/Universal): $11.5 million in its second weekend, down 46%. Domestic total: $38.5 million. $8.9 million in 31 foreign markets. International total: $24 million.

5. “Mars Needs Moms” (Disney): Opened to $6.8 million. $2.1 million in 14 foreign markets.

6. “Hall Pass” (Warner Bros.): $5.1 million in its third weekend, down 42%. Domestic total: $34.9 million.

7. “Beastly” (CBS Films): $5.1 million in its second weekend, down 48%. Domestic total: $17 million.

8. “Just Go With It” (Sony): $4 million in its fifth weekend, down 38%. Domestic total: $94 million. $6.4 million in 34 foreign markets. International total: $45.6 million.

9. “The King’s Speech” (Weinstein Co.): $3.6 million in its 16th weekend, down 42%. Domestic total: $129.1 million.

10. “Gnomeo & Juliet” (Disney): $3.5 million in its fifth weekend, down 51%. Domestic total: $89 million. International total: $49.4 million.]

--Amy Kaufman

Photos, from top: Aaron Eckhart rescues Joey King in "Battle: Los Angeles." Credit: Sony Pictures. Dan Fogler and Seth Green's animated characters in "Mars Needs Moms." Credit: ImageMovers Digital.

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