How to Train Your Dragon Dominates Box-Office
3D toon shows holdover might 4th Week
"How to Train Your Dragon" made a roaring comeback at the domestic box-office in its fourth frame, narrowly edging out Lionsgate's superhero opener "Kick-Ass." With help from higher 3D ticket prices, Paramount and DreamWorks Animation's 3D toon posted an estimated $20 million at 3,825 locations, enough to claim the top spot in its fourth frame.
The R rating for "Kick-Ass" may have softened the pic's opening of $19.8 million at 3,065 engagements.
"Dragon" continued to play well among families and younger auds — down a mere 20% — with little competition on the kid front. The toon's domestic tally reached $158.6 million Sunday.
The frame's other wide release, Sony/Screen Gems' laffer-remake "Death at a Funeral," played well among its core African-American aud, with an estimated $17 million at 2,459 locations.
Overall, the weekend was up a healthy 11% in grosses over the same frame last year.
Specialty distrib Sony Pictures Classics saw a healthy rollout of Argentinian foreign-lingo Oscar winner "The Secret in Their Eyes" at 10 locations, grossing an estimated $176,389. Pic's per-screen average was $17,639. Lots of publicity surrounding mysterious graffitti artist Banksy helped Abramorama's docu "Exit Through the Gift Shop" gross $166,126 at eight locations for a per-screen average of $20,770.
"Dragon" showed less holdover might overseas, grossing $15.5 million on 6,582 screens in 58 territories, with approximately 65% of the weekend total coming from 3D-equipped screens. The toon's international cume stands at $176.5 million for a worldwide haul of $335.1 million.
Domestically, "Dragon" saw a slight bump in 3D ticket sales over the weekend, totaling 66% of the overall weekend take on 2,150 3D locations. DWA worldwide marketing topper Anne Globe attributed the technology as a primary component to the film's holdover success, saying, "When the 3D is great, the playability is also great."
"Certainly, in 3D we have a clear playing field until 'Shrek Forever After' (opens on May 21)," she added. "And of course, we have the Imax partnership that has been playing and over-indexing on the movie, as well."
Imax is committed to a six-week run of "Dragon" until Par launches "Iron Man 2" on May 8. The large-screen distrib's weekend share of "Dragon" accounted for some 11% on 186 3D runs.
"Dragon's" frame-climbing feat marks an impressive turn for the toon after spending two weeks in the No. 3 spot. Disney/Walden's "The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe" made a similar jump in 2005, after falling to the No. 2 spot in its soph sesh, only to reclaim the top perch for the next two consecutive weeks for a cume of $291.7 million.
"Dragon" has seen strong midweek performances that have transferred to the weekend, with a strong uptick from Friday to Saturday, when it earned $9.2 million.
"What you're seeing now is that word of mouth really is spreading to all audience segments," Globe said.
"Kick-Ass" played best among males under 25, repping a 60-40% split between men and women. The film received an overall B CinemaScore rating.
Lionsgate distribution topper David Spitz predicted the pic's strong holdover performances overseas could augur a similar word-of-mouth boost in the U.S. "Kick-Ass" bowed early in territories like Australia and the U.K., where it has cumed $3.3 million and $13.8 million, respectively. International cume for "Kick-Ass" stands at $17.4 million on 675 screens in four territories.
"In every market where we opened early, the film has been consistent," Spitz said. "There are people saying, 'Yeah, I've heard about that movie. My kids want to see it, and I actually heard it was funny.' "
"Kick-Ass," about a group of average teens who don superhero identities, is directed by Matthew Vaughn and stars young thesps Aaron Johnson as the title hero and Chloe Moretz as Hit-Girl.
Pic's moderate opening comes as Lionsgate fights a takeover bid by billionaire Carl Icahn, who says he intends to oust the current management if his bid is successful.
Sony/Screen Gem's "Death at a Funeral" benefited from counter-progamming, appealing to an African-American demo. The laffer, starring Chris Rock, Martin Lawrence and Tracy Morgan, skewed 56% female and over 25.
"I think the film's celebrity in regards to the comedians has a certain appeal to all audiences," said Sony prexy of worldwide distribution Rory Bruer.
Directed by Neil LaBute, "Funeral" is a remake of MGM's 2007 British laffer of the same name. That film launched with $1.3 million at 260 engagements and went on to gross $8.6 million, domestically. The remake will hope to catch on Stateside with an American-centric twist and a B+ CinemaScore rating.
Entering its soph sesh, 20th Century Fox's Steve Carell-Tina Fey laffer "Date Night" ranked ahead of "Funeral," with an estimated 17.3 million at 3,380 locations. "Date Night" dropped 31% for a cume of $49.2 million.
The laffer opened last weekend with $25.2 million, behind Warner Bros.' 3D titan "Clash of the Titans" ($26.7 million).
"Clash" fell 41% for a total $15.8 million at 3,753 playdates. The 3D pic continues to see an even split between the formats, boosting the cume to $133 million.
In limited release, micro-distrib Screen Media launched helmer James Ivory's "The City of Your Final Destination" at one location in New York, with an estimated per-screen average of $22,000. Distrib will expand the release to L.A. next weekend.
On the international front, "Dragon" was trumped by fellow 3D holdovers led by "Clash" and Disney's "Alice in Wonderland."
"Clash" posted an impressive $53.6 million on more than 10,400 screens in 57 territories, with 3D runs grossing approximately $35 million on 4,800 3D-equipped screens. The epic's international cume rose to $188.7 million.
Meanwhile, "Alice" took in an additional $34 million in its seventh frame on 7,134 screens in 53 markets, boosting its overseas revenue to $503.5 million.
"Alice" added two significant markets to its roster over the weekend: Japan and Spain.
Japan repped the top market for "Alice," where it earned $14 million on 654 screens, of which 249 were 3D-equipped, earning between 65% and 70% of the territory's total. "Alice" now ranks as Japan's best opening for a 3D title, besting 20th Century Fox's "Avatar," which debuted with $6.6 million at 839.
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