Though it's a Western about an ugly lizard, Rango was quite a draw over the weekend, and The Adjustment Bureau was no slouch either. While overall weekend business was off 32 percent from last year's Alice in Wonderland madness, it was up from the comparable weekends in 2009 and 2008.
Rango lassoed $38.1 million on approximately 5,200 screens at 3,917 locations, which surpassed The Green Hornet's $33.5 million as the top-grossing opening so far in 2011. Though it grossed less than a third of Johnny Depp's Alice in Wonderland, Rango exceeded Depp's previous voice-only role, Tim Burton's Corpse Bride ($19.1 million). Rango's estimated attendance was a tad higher than How to Train Your Dragon's at the same point, but its gross was lower than that picture's 3D-enhanced $43.7 million. To a more modest degree, director Gore Verbinski and Depp may have done for animated Westerns what they did for pirate movies with the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise. Bolstered by a paucity of family fare, Rango stood out with its distinctive look and sensibility, and the Depp branding helped make its quirks a selling point. The marketing campaign was aggressive, including a spot during the Super Bowl. Distributor Paramount Pictures' initial exit polling indicated that the audience composition was 54 percent female and 54 percent aged 25 years and older.
The Adjustment Bureau debuted in second with $21.2 million on nearly 3,200 screens at 2,840 locations. Its start was close to Unknown's last month, and it was a big improvement over Matt Damon's last vehicle Hereafter ($12 million). In fact, Bureau posted the highest-grossing opening yet for a top-billed Damon movie outside of the Bourne series. In its marketing, the movie was concisely pitched as an exciting romantic thriller with a fantastical angle. According to distributor Universal Pictures, the audience was 73 percent aged 30 years and older and 53 percent female.
In third, Beastly conjured $9.9 million at 1,952 locations, which was stronger than Remember Me from last March and over four times as much as the last movie featuring Vanessa Hudgens, Bandslam. Beastly was marketed concurrently with the much more hyped I Am Number Four, which may have been confusing considering that both supernatural romances feature Alex Pettyfer in the lead role, but the new spin on Beauty and the Beast held its own. Number Four slipped 48 percent to an estimated $5.7 million, bringing its tally to a relatively soft $47 million in 15 days.
Take Me Home Tonight was the big bust among new releases, mustering $3.5 million at 2,003 locations and ranking 12th. That was a fraction of both Hot Tub Time Machine and She's Out of My League from last March, and it was much worse than Adventureland. The picture's sole distinguishing features was its 1980s setting but was nondescript otherwise, and that gimmick wasn't even exploited enough to make it a draw. Playing some '80s tunes over the commercials just didn't cut it.
Among holdovers, Hall Pass had a decent hold, off 34 percent, though its numbers were still mild with an $8.9 million weekend gross and $26.8 million ten-day tally. The market's other major comedy, Just Go With It, was down 39 percent, making $6.4 million for an $88.1 million sum in 24 days.
Unknown took a 48 percent hit, earning $6.5 million for a $53 million 17-day total. The Oscar winner for Best Picture, The King's Speech, was still in the mix, but didn't receive a bump like last weekend, before its win. It settled for the smallest decline among nationwide holdovers, easing 15 percent to $6.2 million and lifting its sum to $123.5 million in 101 days.
Meanwhile, Justin Bieber: Never Say Never's tally climbed to $68.8 million in 24 days, surpassing the final gross of the Hannah Montana movie. Bieber, though, did play at four and a half times as many locations as Montana.