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Box Office: 'Puss in Boots' wins weekend by more than a whisker [Updated]

October 30, 2011 |  9:54 am

Puss in Boots won the weekend at the box office
"Puss in Boots" pounced on the competition at the box office this weekend. But even though the 3-D film easily took first place, the family flick had the softest debut in five years for a movie from DreamWorks Animation.

The film grossed $34 million on its domestic opening weekend, according to an estimate from distributor Paramount Pictures. That was far more than either of the two other new films in wide release collected. "In Time," a sci-fi action movie starring Justin Timberlake started off with a so-so $12 million. And "The Rum Diary," featuring Johnny Depp and based on a Hunter S. Thompson novel, collected a weak $5 million.

In recent years, most DreamWorks Animation films have opened with at least $40 million in ticket sales. About a year ago, for example, the studio's "Megamind" had a $46-million debut. This weekend's so-so performance by "Puss in Boots" was blamed in part on snowy weather on the East Coast, which a studio executive said probably cost at least $2 million in sales. Still, DreamWorks has not had this low of a debut since 2006's "Flushed Away."

The film's animated protagonist — a cat burglar voiced by Antonio Banderas — was first seen as a sidekick to the title-character ogre in the studio's hit franchise "Shrek." DreamWorks spent about $130 million to produce "Puss in Boots."

The good news for the movie's financial backers is that audiences seemed to like the film -- those who saw it gave it an average grade of A-, according to market research firm CinemaScore.

"Puss in Boots" was initially slated to be released next weekend, but last month Paramount moved the movie's opening up in the hopes of attracting parents and their children before films like "Happy Feet Two" and "Hugo" are released around Thanksgiving.

"When we moved the movie to Halloween weekend, we were looking at a two-weekend strategy," said Anne Globe, head of worldwide marketing for DreamWorks Animation. "With strong support, we should play into November given the strong word-of-mouth."

Like most of the studio's animated films, the picture will also probably fare better overseas than in the U.S. This weekend, the movie opened in Russia, Ukraine and the Phillipines, collecting a combined $17 million from those countries.

"In Time," about a world where time is the currency and biological clocks stop at age 25, appealed mostly to a somewhat older crowd this weekend — 58% of the audience was over age 25. Moviegoers didn't love the film, giving it an average grade of B-. Written and directed by "Gattaca" creator Andrew Niccol, the movie was financed by New Regency Pictures for about $40 million and is being released by 20th Century Fox. 

The movie marked one of the first leading roles for Timberlake, who has been attempting to transition from a singing to acting. After a well-reviewed supporting turn as Napster co-founder Sean Parker in last year's "The Social Network," Timberlake has since voiced an animated character in "Yogi Bear" and appeared in "Bad Teacher" and, in his most substantial role, "Friends with Benefits," a romantic comedy that co-starred Mila Kunis and opened to $18.6 million in July.

Depp was a friend of Thompson, who committed suicide in 2005. The actor has brought the writer's spirit to the big screen before, most memorably in 1998's "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas," which similarly failed to resonate at the box office.

Depp traveled to college campuses to promote the movie, but even the actor's star power couldn't attract audiences to his passion project, which is based on a book written by Thompson in 1961 that wasn't published until 1998. Those who saw the film this weekend didn't like it, assigning it a grade of C. The movie is being released by Graham King's distribution company FilmDistrict and was financed by his GK films for about $50 million.

The Shakespeare drama "Anonymous" was supposed to open nationwide this weekend, but Sony Pictures scaled back the release to 265 theaters after prerelease audience surveys indicated it wasn't resonating with moviegoers. The film collected $1 million, not a fantastic start for the $30-million picture. But Sony hopes the movie will benefit from positive word of mouth as it expands in the coming weeks. Indeed, those who saw the film this weekend — 65% of whom were over the age of 30 — gave it an average grade of A-.

[Updated at 12:29 p.m., Oct. 30: The well-reviewed romantic drama "Like Crazy" opened in four theaters this weekend, collecting $120,000. That amounts to a respectable per-theater average of $30,000 for the movie, which debuted in Los Angeles and New York. Next weekend, the film will play in 16 theaters in 10 cities.

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

1. "Puss in Boots" (Paramount/DreamWorks Animation): Opened to $34 million. Opened overseas in three foreign markets, grossing $17 million.

2. "Paranormal Activity 3" (Paramount): $18.5 million on its second weekend, down 65%. $17 million overseas in 48 foreign markets. Domestic total: $81.3 million. International total: $54.2 million.

3. "In Time" (Fox/New Regency): Opened to $12 million. Opened overseas in 35 foreign markets, grossing $14.5 million. 

4. "Footloose" (Paramount): $5.4 million on its third weekend, down 48%. $1.4 million overseas in 20 foreign markets. Domestic total: $38.4 million. International total: $8.2 million.

5. "The Rum Diary" (FilmDistrict/GK Films): Opened to $5 million.

6. "Real Steel" (Disney/DreamWorks): $4.7 million on its fourth weekend, down 57%. $12.2 million overseas in 34 foreign markets. Domestic total: $73.9 million. International total: $108 million.

7. "The Three Musketeers" (Summit/Constantin): $3.5 million on its second weekend, down 60%. Domestic total: $14.8 million.

8. "The Ides of March" (Sony/Cross Creek): $2.7 million on its fourth weekend, down 44%. Domestic total: $33.5 million.

9. "Moneyball" (Sony): $2.4 million on its sixth weekend, down 40%. $500,000 overseas in three foreign markets. Domestic total: $67.4 million. International total: $2.4 million.

10. "Courageous" (Sony): $1.8 million on its fifth weekend, down 28%. Domestic total: $27.6 million.]

RELATED:

Movie Review: 'In Time'

Indie Focus: "The Rum Diary" pours forth anew

Movie Projector: 'Puss in Boots' to stomp on competition

— Amy Kaufman

twitter.com/AmyKinLA

Photo: A scene from "Puss in Boots." Credit: DreamWorks Animation

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