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April 18, 2011 by · 2 Comments 

If virtually every film on the box-office top-ten list underperformed over the weekend, you can blame it on Rio. The animated movie musical from 20th Century Fox was the one film that overperformed, winding up with an estimated $40 million. That’s the most any film has taken in during its opening weekend this year, but it would appear that it achieved at least part of its success by drawing away audiences from other films, particularly those aimed at families. Only two other films grossed more than $10 million, Dimension Films’ Scream 4, which debuted with $19.3 million, and Universal’s Hop, which came in third with $11.2 million. That represented a 47.4-percent drop for Hop, which had held the top position at the box office during the previous two weeks. But the bigger surprise was the poor performance of Scream 4, from The Weinstein Co.’s Dimension Films unit. The previous two sequels had taken in more than $30 million during their opening weekends, and several forecasters expected Scream 4 to do the same. Still, it wasn’t all gloom at the box office. Helped by an earlier-than-usual beginning of spring break, the box office was up 12 percent versus the same weekend a year ago, when Kick Ass led with just $19.8 million.

The top ten films for the weekend, according to studio estimates compiled by Box Office Mojo:

1. Rio, $40 million; 2. Scream 4, $19.3 million; 3. Hop, $11.2 million; 4. Soul Surfer, $7.4 million; 5. Hanna, $7.3 million; 6. Arthur, $6.94 million: 7. Insidious, $6.9 million; 8. Source Code, $6.3 million; 9. The Conspirator, $3.92 million; 10. Your Highness, $3.9 million.

Final Figures for the Top Five Films:

1. Rio, $39,225,962
2. Scream 4, $18,692,090
3. Hop, $10,715,205
4. Hanna, $7,282,546
5. Soul Surfer, $7,268,502

Some tangled trivia: The only other movie musical with “Rio” in its title was 1933’s Flying Down to Rio, the film that first paired Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers. It was produced by Merian C. Cooper, who earlier the same year, had produced, directed and co-written King Kong, a film at the opposite end of the cinema spectrum. Flying Down to Rio starred Dolores del Rio — who was not from Rio but from Durango, Mexico. Cooper, incidentally, had been a pilot in the Polish army following World War I and had gone on to become one of the founders of Pan American World Airways and to serve on its board. (He’s the pilot in the plane that finally shoots down King Kong.) An arch-conservative, he backed Senator Joseph McCarthy’s anti-communist crusade in the early 50’s. Del Rio, by contrast, became one of the early victims of the Hollywood blacklist and was forced to flee to her native Mexico, not to return to the U.S. until 1960, when she played Elvis Presley’s mother in Flaming Star.