Woo-hoo. Folks, it looks like 2011 has indeed soared to its first big weekend win in months on the wings of Fox’s Rio. The 3D animated toon rose from the ashes of a lower than expected Friday figure to earn an estimated $40 million for the three day frame. Unfortunately, there was not a lot of love left over for Wes Craven’s Scream 4 but, no matter! The weekend should still end up ahead of last year by approximately 12%.
Along with almost single-handedly assuring a weekend in the ‘win’ column for 2011, Rio also scored the highest weekend debut of the year at $40 million – and this time Monday’s official numbers should not necessitate a retraction as they did two weeks ago with that overly optimistic estimate for Hop. Rio launched in 3,826 locations, with over 2,500 of those screening the G-rated toon in 3D. Additionally, the film’s number one domestic debut was echoed internationally where Rio has already taken in over $100 million.
Produced by Blue Sky Studios, the folks behind Ice Age and Horton Hears a Who, Rio was made for a relatively thrifty $90 million. Naturally that doesn’t count marketing costs, (including a pricey Super Bowl Ad) but with a relatively glowing 71% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes and a first weekend in line with both How to Train Your Dragon ($43.7) and Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs ($41.6), this has to be seen as another win for the Connecticut-based studio.
2011’s first winning weekend might have been much more impressive had Scream 4 lived up to its early projections. Although it has been 11 years since Ghostface last graced the screen, box office watchers had predicted a weekend in the mid-twenties for the fourth entry in Wes Craven’s iconic horror franchise. Instead Scream 4 earned an estimated $19.3 million from 3,305 locations and actually declined from Friday to Saturday. Still, with the notoriously thrifty Dimension spending a reported $40 million on the film, Scream 4 will end up profitable – even if it puts the knife to the Scream brand for good.
If the reaction to Scream 4 was underwhelming, that may have had something to do with the continued power of Insidious. The low-budget scarer earned an estimated $6.8 million in its third week – a decline of just 26% – bringing its domestic total to $35.9 million from that astonishing $1 million budget.
As for last weekend’s newcomers, Soul Surfer stayed strongest, holding on to its number four position with a decline of just 30% and a second weekend estimate of $7.4 million. Focus Features’ Hanna also held well, notching a decline of 40% and an estimate of $7.3 million. Arthur managed a decent hold of 57%, but after last weekend’s disappointing start that gives the Russell Brand comedy a domestic total of just $22.3 million after ten days. As expected, Your Highness suffered the biggest decline of the newbies, falling 58% to number ten. That means a new domestic total of just under $16 million, a total more fitting for a small indie hit than a star-studded, major studio release.
And speaking of small, indie pics, Robert Redford’s The Conspirator managed to debut at number nine this weekend. The Roadside Attractions production earned a respectable $3.9 million from its initial run in 707 locations, or a per screen average of $5,550.
If all goes according to plan, next weekend should give Hollywood its second win in a row. Not only will Tyler Perry be back (in his crowd-pleasing Madea persona) but the much-hyped adaptation of the novel Water for Elephants, starring Robert Pattinson and Reese Witherspoon, will hit 2,700 locations. Late April of 2010 was no blockbuster – with How to Train Your Dragon number one with just $15.3 million – so what could go wrong?