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Box Office: 'Rio' not scared off by 'Scream 4' [Updated]

April 17, 2011 |  9:36 am

Rio The box office may finally be getting back on track.

After seven consecutive weekends in which ticket sales were down compared to the same period last year, the movie business was back in the swing of things due largely to a crop of animated birds.

"Rio," a 3-D animated film about feathered friends on a Brazilian adventure, grossed a solid $40 million, according to an estimate from distributor 20th Century Fox. The weekend's other new film in wide release, "Scream 4," collected a so-so $19.3 million.

"Rio" had the biggest opening weekend domestically of any film so far this year, and it found success because it attracted a broad audience. The crowd that saw the film was split 50-50 between older and younger audiences, and skewed only slightly more female. The G-rated movie was given a postive average grade of A, according to market research firm CinemaScore.

The movie was easily able to fend off competition from "Hop," the animated family film that had been No. 1 the last two weekends. This weekend, the Universal Pictures release earned an additional $11.2 million, bringing its domestic total to $82.6 million.

"Rio," the latest release from Fox-owned animation company Blue Sky Studios, cost about $90 million to produce after tax incentives. As such, the movie should end up being profitable, especially because it is already off to a great start abroad. The movie, which features the voices of actors Jesse Eisenberg and Anne Hathaway, had already grossed $75 million heading into the weekend and premiered in 21 additional countries this weekend.

Neve Prerelease audience surveys had indicated that the fourth installment of the "Scream" franchise would end up with more than $25 million in ticket sales on its opening weekend. The film was produced by the Weinstein Co.'s genre label Dimension Films for about $40 million, meaning that the movie is still off to a decent start. But its debut fell far short of the most recent installments of the horror series. In 1997 "Scream 2" opened to $32.9 million, while 2000's "Scream 3" started off with $34.7 million. The first two "Scream" films ended up with more than $100 million at the domestic box office, while "Scream 3's" final gross was a slightly lower $89.1 million.

It has been 11 years since the last time the iconic ghostface killer was on the big screen, which may be why "Scream 4" didn't open to a bigger number. Of those who saw the movie, 46% were over 25, a higher-than-average older crowd for a horror film, which indicates that those who saw the movie were likely already familiar with the franchise. Heading into the weekend the movie was generating interest largely from young males, many of whom may have been unable to see the film due to its R-rating.

In limited release, "The Conspirator," about the assasination of Abraham Lincoln, grossed $3.9 million for a moderate $5,500-per-theater average. The movie cost about $25 million to produce and was acquired by Roadside Attractions, which co-released the Robert Redford-directed film with the start-up American Film Co.

In about 400 fewer locations, "Atlas Shrugged: Part I" collected $1.7 million, averaging $5,608 per theater.

[Updated at 10:32 a.m.: "Rio" continued to perform well overseas, grossing an additional $53.9 million and bringing its international total to $129.1 million. Last weekend, the film opened ahead of its U.S. release in 72 foreign markets and performed best in Brazil. The movie grossed the most in that country again this weekend, collecting $7.5 million. Of the locations in which "Rio" more recently opened, France was the most successful -- the movie opened in the No. 1 spot there this weekend with $4.7 million.

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

1. "Rio" (20th Century Fox): Opened to $40 million. $53.9 million in 62 foreign markets. International total: $129.1 million.

2. "Scream 4" (Weinstein Co.): Opened to $19.3 million.

3. "Hop" (Universal/Relativity): $11.2 million in its third weekend, down 48%. Domestic total: $82.6 million. $10.3 million in 45 foreign markets. International total: $29.4 million.

4. "Soul Surfer" (Sony/FilmDistrict): $7.4 million in its second weekend, down 30%. Domestic total: $20 million.

5. "Hanna" (Focus Features): $7.3 million in its second weekend, down 41%. Domestic total: $23.3 million. $1.1 million in five foreign markets. International total: $1.2 million.

6. "Arthur" (Warner Bros.): $6.9 million in its second weekend, down 43%. Domestic total: $22.3 million.

7. "Insidious" (FilmDistrict): $6.9 million in its third weekend, down 27%. Domestic total: $36 million.

8. "Source Code" (Summit/Vendome): $6.3 million in its third weekend, down 27%. Domestic total: $37 million. $3.5 million in 22 foreign markets. International total: $18.6 million.

9. "The Conspirator" (Roadside/American Film Co.): Opened to $3.9 million.

10. "Your Highness" (Universal): $3.9 million in its second weekend, down 58%. Domestic total: $16 million.]

RELATED:

'Rio': love letter to a Brazilian city

Review: 'Rio's' animation and music help the family film take flight

Review: 'Scream 4' is slicing, dicing and laughing again

-- Amy Kaufman

Photos, from top: The animated birds who star in "Rio." Credit: 20th Century Fox.  Neve Campbell stars in "Scream 4." Credit: The Weinstein Co.

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