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Box Office: 'Sucker Punch' no match for 'Wimpy Kid' [Updated]

March 27, 2011 |  9:28 am

Wimpy Five tough young women decked out in bustiers and fishnets got their butts kicked this weekend by a scrawny pipsqueak.

"Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules," the second film in a series based on popular children's novels, grossed $24.4 million in ticket sales, according to an estimate from distributor 20th Century Fox. That was enough to knock out Zack Snyder's much pricier action film "Sucker Punch," which collected only $19 million.

Heading into the weekend, prerelease audience surveys had indicated that the two films were neck-and-neck as they vied for the No. 1 spot at the box office. But "Wimpy Kid," which centers on a middle-school student's relationship with his older brother, pulled ahead, attracting a broader audience than "Sucker Punch." Mostly families showed up to see "Wimpy Kid," and audiences who saw the film enjoyed it, giving it an average grade of A-minus, according to market research firm CinemaScore.

The movie was produced by 20th Century Fox for about $21 million, meaning its debut is strong for a relatively inexpensive film. And the movie performed even better on its opening weekend than did the first installment in the franchise, "Diary of a Wimpy Kid," which debuted last March to $22.1 million and went on to gross $64 million domestically.

Despite the fact that fewer children were out on spring break this year compared with last, the movie saw a sizable 39% bump in ticket sales from Friday to Saturday. Last year, the movie had only an 18% increase over the same two-day period. As kids continue to trickle out of school over the coming weeks, the film should keep a good hold, especially since families don't always rush out to see new movies on their opening weekends.

"Rodrick Rules" will open in its first foreign market, Australia, in mid-April.

Suckerpunch Meanwhile, as expected, "Sucker Punch" played best with the director Snyder's fanboy audience. Most of the moviegoers who saw the film were male, and 74% were under the age of 35. While young males were more enthusiastic about the movie, the poorly reviewed movie only received an average grade of B-minus from general audiences.

"Sucker Punch's" weak debut is a blow to Snyder, whose name brand means a lot to Warner Bros. The filmmaker has been tapped to direct the upcoming "Superman" film, which the studio is hoping will become one of its next bankable franchises as the lucrative "Harry Potter" series ends this summer.

Warner Bros. and co-financier Legendary Pictures spent $82 million to produce the movie about a throng of strong-willed females who bond together to escape from an insane asylum. But the movie, the first the filmmaker has written and directed that's not based on an existing property, did not do nearly as much business on its opening weekend as some of Snyder's past films. Back in March 2007, his movie "300" became a box office surprise, opening to $70.9 million and ending up with $210.6 million domestically. Snyder's March 2009 film "Watchmen" opened to $55.2 million but dropped about 68% the following weekend and eventually wound up with a lackluster $107.5 million domestically. Because fanboy crowds typically want to see new films on their opening weekends, "Sucker Punch" could face a challenge in the coming weeks.

The film, which showcases Snyder's signature moody visuals, did 21% of its business on IMAX screens, setting a record for 2-D IMAX marketshare.

Last weekend's top-grossing films, Relativity's "Limitless" and Lionsgate's "The Lincoln Lawyer," retained strong holds. "Limitless," which was No. 1 last weekend and stars Bradley Cooper, dropped only 19%, collecting $15.2 million. "The Lincoln Lawyer," starring Matthew McConaughey, had the smallest drop of any film in the marketplace -- only 17%, adding $11 million to its tally.

In limited release, The Weinstein Co.'s "Miral," directed by Julian Schnabel, debuted in four theaters and grossed a pretty good $65,000. In its second week in theaters, Fox Searchlight's coming-of-age dramedy "Win Win" expanded to 23 theaters and added $470,000 to its tally. The Tom McCarthy-directed film saw a huge spike in business from Friday to Saturday, jumping 89% and indicating the film has strong word-of-mouth with arthouse crowds.

[Updated at 12:41 p.m.: "Sucker Punch" opened in 23 foreign markets and collected $7.4 million overseas, performing best in Italy, Spain and Brazil. The movie will open in France, Germany, Russia and Britain in the coming week.

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

1. "Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules" (20th Century Fox): Opened to $24.4 million.

2. "Sucker Punch" (Warner Bros./Legendary): Opened to $19 million. $7.4 million in 23 foreign markets.

3. "Limitless" (Relativity): $15.2 million in its second weekend, down 19%. Domestic total: $41.3 million.

4. "The Lincoln Lawyer" (Lionsgate/Lakeshore): $11 million in its second weekend, down 17%. Domestic total: $29 million.

5. "Rango" (Paramount): $9.8 million in its fourth weekend, down 35%. Domestic total: $106.4 million. $15.5 million in 55 foreign markets. International total: $94 million.

6. "Battle: Los Angeles" (Sony/Relativity): $7.6 million in its third weekend, down 48%. Domestic total: $72.6 million. $16.2 million in 55 foreign markets. International total: $79.5 million.

7. "Paul" (Universal/Relativity): $7.5 million in its second weekend, down 42%. Domestic total: $24.6 million. $2.1 million in eight foreign markets. International total: $30.7 million.

8. "Red Riding Hood" (Warner Bros.): $4.3 million in its third weekend, down 40%. Domestic total: $32.5 million. $4.2 million in 13 foreign markets. International total: $11.3 million.

9. "The Adjustment Bureau" (MRC/Universal): $4.2 million in its fourth weekend, down 26%. Domestic total: $54.9 million. $5.6 million in 44 foreign markets. International total: $39.7 million.

10. "Mars Needs Moms" (Disney): $2.2 million in its third weekend, down 59%. Domestic total: $19.2 million. $3.5 million in 25 foreign markets. International total: $14 million.]

-- Amy Kaufman

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Top photo: (From left) Robert Capron and Zachary Gordon. Credit: 20th Century Fox.

Bottom photo: (From left) Jena Malone, Abbie Cornish and Vanessa Hudgens star in "Sucker Punch." Credit: Warner Bros.

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