Topping the weekend, Hop hatched $37.5 million on approximately 4,700 screens at 3,579 locations, slotting behind Rango's $38.1 million as the second highest-grossing opening weekend of 2011 so far. It was also a larger start than G-Force and Beverly Hills Chihuahua but below the two Alvin and the Chipmunks movies among similar titles. Easter comes late this year (April 24), so Hop is well-positioned to play well all month.
Strangely, up until now, Hollywood hasn't really exploited the Easter holiday in movies (at least in the secular sense). Otherwise, Hop seemed derivative of Alvin and the Chipmunks and many others (the chicks looked like a combination of Despicable Me's minions and Madagascar's penguins), but that's a proven formula for attracting families. Hop's massive marketing campaign leveraged its corporate connection with NBC and Comcast to saturate the market, including promos during NBC's shows that took up the bottom half of the screen.
In second, Source Code generated $14.8 million on close to 3,400 screens at 2,961 locations. That was ho-hum compared to the starts for its fellow sci-fi thrillers currently in theaters, Limitless and The Adjustment Bureau, and it was even worse relative to more thematically-similar thrillers like Deja Vu, Vantage Point and Unstoppable. Distributor Summit Entertainment's exit polling indicated that 54 percent of the audience was male (whereas Adjustment Bureau and Limitless skewed female) and 64 percent was aged 30 years and older.
Source Code also prompted comparisons to the likes of Groundhog Day, Speed and television's Quantum Leap, but the premise of a man reliving the same eight-minute period to stop a bomber became more convoluted the more the marketing tried to explain it, getting in the way of whatever appeal the movie might have had (the campaigns for Adjustment Bureau and Limitless largely avoided this pitfall). Other issues were the title, which may have piqued geek interest but didn't match the intended mainstream thrills, and Jake Gyllenhaal, who has never carried a hit movie in the ten years that Hollywood's been trying to make him a star.
Promoted as being from "the makers of Paranormal Activity and Saw," Insidious debuted in third with $13.3 million at 2,408 locations, which may be a solid showing for the inaugural release of distributor FilmDistrict but was below average for a supernatural horror movie. The sub-genre is so close to a sure thing that it seems like all these movies have to do is come up with a few strikingly creepy elements in their marketing campaigns, and, voila, people show up the first weekend. Insidious certainly boasted creepiness in its advertising, though it was mostly superimposed stuff like the "Insidious is Insidious" title effects and use of Tiny Tim's "Tiptoe Through the Tulips." There wasn't a specific visual centerpiece, just a bunch of rapid-fire smaller moments, and the movie's supposed focal point, the haunted boy, was barely in the ads. Also, atmosphere only goes so far, and Insidious's storyline looked generic.
As well as the three new nationwide releases may have done individually, collectively they couldn't match the three debuts on the same weekend last year (Clash of the Titans, Why Did I Get Married Too? and The Last Song), contributing to a 30 percent drop in overall business versus last year. The weekend was also below par for April kick-offs in general.
Sucker Punch bled 68 percent to $6 million for a $29.8 million sum in ten days. The drop was about as severe as Zack Snyder's last live-action movie, Watchmen, but with only a fraction of the gross. It was also worse than the more comparably-grossing Kick-Ass, which was off 53 percent in its second weekend last spring.
The Lincoln Lawyer saw the smallest decline among nationwide releases, slowing 37 percent to $6.8 million for a $39.4 million tally in 17 days. Limitless also hung in there with $9.3 million, down 38 percent for a $55.5 million total in 17 days. It's on the verge of surpassing The Adjustment Bureau, despite having a smaller start.
Rango seemed to feel the brunt of Hop and took its steepest hit yet. Off 54 percent, the animated Western comedy wrangeld $4.5 million for a $113.7 million sum in 31 days.
Meanwhile, few cared to see the king's cursing censored. The King's Speech (PG-13) mustered a mere $1.1 million at 1,011 locations, down from the original's $1.6 million haul last weekend, despite a new marketing push. This affirmed that no one weas clamoring for a modified version of the movie, especially at this point when the movie's word-of-mouth and Oscar momentum have died down.