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Box Office: 'Rango' wins box-office shootout [Updated]

March 6, 2011 | 10:11 am

Rango Though four new films saddled up at the box office this weekend, "Rango" was the one able to lasso the most moviegoers, though not enough to make it a runaway hit.

The computer-animated western featuring a chameleon voiced by Johnny Depp, took in $38 million at the box office, according to an estimate from distributor Paramount Pictures.

"The Adjustment Bureau," a science-fiction romance starring Emily Blunt and Matt Damon, collected $20.9 million for a decent second-place finish. But the weekend's two other new releases did not sell nearly as many tickets. "Beastly," a modern retelling of "Beauty and the Beast" set in high school, grossed $10.1 million, while the '80s romp "Take Me Home Tonight" barely registered at the box office with only $3.5 million.

"Rango" now has the highest opening weekend gross of any film so far this year, though not a great one given the amount Paramount spent making it. Two people close to the production said "Rango" cost close to $150 million to produce, while a studio spokeswoman said the budget was $135 million.

Either way, the first non-DreamWorks animated feature released by Paramount since 2007 and the first ever made by George Lucas' Industrial Light & Magic is off to a so-so start. Based on prerelease surveys, most people in Hollywood had figured the picture would open to more than $40 million, even though it didn't have the benefit of 3-D ticket surcharges like many animated films.

Good word-of-mouth and a long box office run are now critical if the family film is to be a hit. Evidence on that front is mixed. Receipts jumped 73% from Friday to Saturday, a positive sign, but early audiences gave it a weak grade of C+, according to market research firm CinemaScore. That indicates that people over 13 who participated in the polling weren't enamored of "Rango," though children may feel differently.

The pictures drew both genders in roughly equal numbers, according to exit polls, and 54% of the audience was over 25, indicating that positive reviews may have successfully lured parents into theaters to watch the movie with their children.

Overseas, "Rango" opened in 33 foreign markets, taking in $16.5 million. It performed best in Britain and Ireland, where it grossed $3.1 million, followed by Mexico's tally of $2.7 million.

The moderate debut for "The Adjustment Bureau" came from its overwhelmingly adult audience, 73% of whom were older than 30. The movie, which centers around a couple being kept apart by supernatural forces, was produced and financed by Media Rights Capital, and Universal Pictures acquired its worldwide distribution rights for $62 million. Audiences gave it an average grade of B.

It also opened this weekend in 21 foreign territories, where it grossed $10.5 million, including a second-place finish behind "Rango" in Britain.

Beastlywide "Beastly's" soft performance was fueled almost entirely by women, whom distributor CBS Films courted heavily in advertisements. The film was produced for just under $20 million before tax rebates, but a studio representative said much of that cost had already been covered through sales to foreign distributors. Despite middling reviews, audiences gave the movie a B+, the highest Cinemascore of any new film that premiered this weekend.

Few, meanwhile, wanted to spend a night at "Take Me Home Tonight," making it another flop for Relativity Media's fledgling film-distribution business. The movie cost about $19 million to make, including reshoots, though Relativity bought the U.S. distribution rights from Universal Pictures for $10 million. With audiences giving the movie an average grade of C, "Take Me Home Tonight" is likely to fizzle fast in coming weeks.

"The King's Speech" enjoyed a very modest box office decline of just 11% after being named best picture at the Academy Awards last weekend. The movie raked in an additional $6.5 million, bringing its domestic total to $123.8 million.

[Updated at 10:50 a.m.: After its star Natalie Portman was deemed best actress at the Oscars on Feb. 27, "Black Swan" continued to reach new audiences overseas. The psychological thriller set in the world of ballet grossed $15.6 million in 45 foreign markets this weekend, bringing its international tally to an impressive $147.6 million. The film performed especially well in South Korea, where it was No. 1 for the second weekend in a row with $2.4 million in ticket sales.

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

1. "Rango" (Paramount): Opened to $38 million. $16.5 million overseas in 33 foreign markets.

2. "The Adjustment Bureau" (MRC/Universal): Opened to $20.9 million. $10.5 million in 21 foreign markets.

3. "Beastly" (CBS Films): Opened to $10.1 million.

4. "Hall Pass" (Warner Bros.): $9 million in its second weekend, down 33%. Domestic total: $27 million.

5. "Gnomeo & Juliet" (Disney): $6.9 million in its fourth weekend, down 48%. Domestic total: $83.7 million. $2.2 million overseas. International total: $41.6 million.

6. "Unknown" (Warner Bros.): $6.6 million in its third weekend, down 47%. Domestic total: $53.1 million.

7. "The King's Speech" (Weinstein Co.): $6.5 million in its 15th weekend, down 11%. Domestic total: $123.8 million.

8. "Just Go With It" (Sony): $6.5 million in its fourth weekend, down 38%. Domestic total: $88.2 million. $7.3 million in 33 foreign markets. International total: $35.1 million.

9. "I Am Number Four" (DreamWorks/Disney): $5.7 million in its third weekend, down 48%. Domestic total: $46.4 million. $12 million in 26 foreign markets. International total: $42.1 million.

10. "Never Say Never" (Paramount Insurge): $4.3 million on its fourth weekend, down 54%. Domestic total: $68.9 million. $850,000 in five foreign markets. International total: $6.5 million.]

-- Amy Kaufman

Photos, from top: A lizard voiced by Johnny Depp is "Rango." Credit: Industrial Light & Magic. Alex Pettyfer and Vanessa Hudgens star in "Beastly." Credit: CBS Films

For the record: This post corrected to reflect that "Rango" grossed $16.5 million overseas, not $15.4 million, and "The Adjustment Bureau" grossed $10.5 million overseas, not $21.5 million.

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