Limitless debuted to $26.1 million, which was a bit behind previous 2011 thrillers Unknown ($30.4 million) and The Adjustment Bureau ($27 million). Still, this marked a victory for distributor Relativity Media, after its first three movies tanked. In fact, Limitless passed Season of the Witch on Thursday to become the distributor's highest-grossing movie ever, and, by the end of next week, it will likely have made more than all three previous releases (Season, The Warrior's Way and Take Me Home Tonight) combined.
Rango held second place, dipping 39 percent to $19.3 million. With kids back in school for the most part, it slid out of the Top Three from Monday to Wednesday. The animated Western has amassed a total of $96.6 million in 21 days, and it is poised to surpass Just Go With It this weekend to become 2011's highest-grossing movie so far. It's also about to become the first 2011 release to pass the $100 million milestone.
In a situation that's pretty common among sci-fi fare, Battle: Los Angeles plummeted 59 percent to $19 million. While it held better than Skyline and Cloverfield, it fell further behind District 9. The movie has earned $65 million in 14 days and will need to hold on much better in the coming weeks to reach $100 million.
The Lincoln Lawyer finished its first week in fourth place with $18 million, which was strong for a Matthew McConaughey drama (though there wasn't much competition). The movie took second place from Tuesday to Thursday, indicating that it's at least sustaining mild interest among adults.
The week's final new release, sci-fi comedy Paul, finished a bit behind The Lincoln Lawyer with $17.1 million. That was off from Hot Tub Time Machine last March, as well as R-rated road trip comedy Harold and Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay. Still, the opening was leagues above Simon Pegg and Nick Frost's Hot Fuzz and Shaun of the Dead, and it was also an improvement on Seth Rogen's Observe and Report and Zack and Miri Make a Porno.
In limited release, Jane Eyre earned $662,428 at 26 locations for a strong per-theater average of $25,478. It will look to substantially build on its two-week total of $915,533 when it expands to 90 venues this weekend.
Finally, writer-director Tom McCarthy's Win Win debuted to $207,916 at five theaters for a solid average of $41,583. The Paul Giamatti-Amy Ryan comedy moves in to 23 locations this weekend.
• Weekend Report: 'Limitless' Leads Listless Lot
• Arthouse Audit: 'Jane Eyre' Maintains Momentum
• Weekly Box Office, March 18-24
• Daily Grosses
• All-Time Domestic Grosses