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Published: Monday, 4/25/2011

'Rio' speaks louder than 'Madea,' repeats at No. 1 with $26.8 million second weekend

ASSOCIATED PRESS
In this publicity image released by 20th Century Fox, animated characters, from left, Raphael, voiced by George Lopez, Blu, voiced by Jesse Eisenberg, and Jewel, voiced by Anne Hathaway, are shown in a scene from "Rio."  In this publicity image released by 20th Century Fox, animated characters, from left, Raphael, voiced by George Lopez, Blu, voiced by Jesse Eisenberg, and Jewel, voiced by Anne Hathaway, are shown in a scene from "Rio."
BLUE SKY STUDIOS Enlarge

LOS ANGELES — Anne Hathaway and Jesse Eisenberg’s talking birds have edged out Tyler Perry’s sass-talking grandma at the weekend box office.

Hathaway and Eisenberg’s animated family adventure Rio took in $26.8 million to remain the No. 1 movie for the second-straight weekend, according to studio estimates Sunday.

Tyler Perry’s Madea’s Big Happy Family debuted a close second with $25.8 million, another solid opening for writer-director Perry, who also stars as boisterous, opinionated grandma Madea.

Reese Witherspoon and Robert Pattinson’s circus romance Water for Elephants premiered in third-place with $17.5 million.

“It’s nice to have two movies in the top-three,” said Bert Livingston, distribution executive for 20th Century Fox, which released both Rio and Water for Elephants.

The weekend’s other new wide release, Disney’s nature documentary African Cats, opened at No. 6 with $6.4 million.

Morgan Spurlock’s product-placement documentary POM Wonderful Presents: The Greatest Movie Ever Sold opened with fair but unremarkable business in limited release.

The latest from the maker of the hit documentary Super Size Me took in $135,139 in 18 theaters, averaging $7,508 a cinema. That compares to an $11,254 average in 2,288 theaters for Madea’s Big Happy Family, which had by far the best cinema average among the top-10 movies.

Hollywood scored its second-straight weekend of rising revenues, good news for studios that have been in a box-office slide since last fall.

Receipts totaled $138 million, up 39 percent from the same weekend last year, when How to Train Your Dragon was No. 1 with $15.4 million, according to box-office tracker Hollywood.com.

The upward trend likely will continue next weekend with Fast Five, the latest movie in The Fast and the Furious action franchise, expected to have a huge opening, said Hollywood.com analyst Paul Dergarabedian.

“I think we’re going to have three up weekends in a row, and for us, that’s a roll. We’ve been down for so long,” Dergarabedian said. “It really points out how cyclical this business is.”

A love-bird story centered on rare parrots, Rio raised its domestic total to $81.3 million. The movie has taken in $204.7 million more overseas, for a worldwide haul of $286 million.

Rio held on well to its audience, revenues dropping a scant 32 percent in the second weekend, while Water for Elephants came in a bit above industry expectations.

Adapted from the best-selling novel, Water for Elephants features Witherspoon as the star of a Depression-era circus, with Pattinson co-starring as a veterinarian who falls for her despite her jealous, tyrannical husband.

“It felt like old-time filmmaking for me and I think for the audience,” Livingston said. “I think it’s going to play for a long time. People are going to talk about it.”

While Perry’s latest Madea flick was unable to knock Rio off its perch, the filmmaker has been a prolific and consistent box-office earner, averaging two movies a year for distributor Lionsgate over the last four years.

“He has the most loyal fan base that I certainly have ever been associated with,” said David Spitz, head of distribution for Lionsgate. “They just continue to come out and flock to the cinemas and see his movies, whether it’s a drama or comedy. He knows how to speak to his audience.”

Estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday at U.S. and Canadian theaters, according to Hollywood.com. Final figures will be released Monday.

1. Rio, $26.8 million.

2. Tyler Perry’s Madea’s Big Happy Family, $25.8 million.

3. Water for Elephants, $17.5 million.

4. Hop, $12.5 million.

5. Scream 4, $7.2 million.

6. African Cats, $6.4 million.

7. Soul Surfer, $5.6 million.

8. Insidious, $5.4 million.

9. Hanna, $5.3 million.

10. Source Code, $5.1 million.



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