3D toon nabs $43.3 million from 4,055 playdates

Paramount and DreamWorks Animation’s 3D toon “How to Train Your Dragon” saw healthy returns over the weekend at the domestic B.O., but with an estimated $43.3 million at 4,055 playdates, failed to set the frame ablaze.

Overall B.O. was down 14% from the same frame last year.

MGM’s laffer “Hot Tub Time Machine” debuted at $13.7 million off 2,754. Pic, starring John Cusack and Rob Corddry, played best among its target demo of older males, with 65% of the aud over 25.

The specialty market offered several choices from name filmmakers, led by Focus Features’ holdover “Greenberg,” starring Ben Stiller, with $1.1 million at 181 engagements, and Sony Pictures Classics’ launch of the Atom Egoyan-directed “Chloe,” grossing $713,542 at 306 Stateside locations.

Overseas, “How to Train Your Dragon” claimed an estimated $31 million on 5,594 screens in 54 territories. Added to revenue from early bows last week in three markets, including Russia, the toon’s international cume now stands at $42 mil.

“Dragon’s” 3D component repped a sizable portion of the pic’s overall domestic take, accounting for 65% of the weekend gross.

Leading up to its release, some circuits raised 3D ticket prices by as much as 8%, which could have affected the toon’s overall performance. Since adults have to foot the bill for the whole family, ticket hikes typically hit family-friendly films hardest.

DWA’s 3D toon “Monsters vs. Aliens” launched with $59.3 million during the same weekend last year, at 1,550 3D locations out of 4,104. With fewer 3D locations than “Dragon,” and less-expensive tickets, “Monsters” drew 56% of its B.O. from 3D runs.

The total 3D count for “Dragon,” budgeted at approximately $165 million, stands at 2,178 locations, with an additional 186 3D-equipped Imax locations.

Imax reported its share at $5 million, repping 11.5% of the pic’s domestic earnings on less than 3% of the pic’s total runs.

Positive reviews and strong word-of-mouth — the film scored an A CinemaScore rating — may help boost holdover potential.

But the bow of Warner Bros.’ 3D “Clash of the Titans” this week could put a serious dent in the toon’s performance.

“Clash” will siphon many 3D locations from “Dragon,” and it’s unclear how many will opt to see the toon in 2D, given the heavy marketing push for the 3D component.

Anne Globe, head of worldwide marketing for DWA, said spring break and the upcoming Easter holiday should benefit “Dragon” in the coming weeks.

“I think there is sort of a bell curve with kids out of school,” she said. “This really sets us up for positive, long-term playability.”

“Dragon” had enough spark to singe Disney’s reigning 3D champ “Alice in Wonderland,” which earned $17.3 million at 3,384 locations, dropping to the No. 2 spot in its fourth frame. “Alice” has cumed $293.1 million domestically.

“Hot Tub Time Machine,” about middle-aged guys who travel back to 1986, marks MGM’s first theatrical release since last year’s “Fame,” which earned $22.5 million.

MGM prexy of worldwide theatrical distribution Erik Lomis said the launch won’t “make or break” the studio. “I hope (young males) will help spread the word and keep coming over spring break,” he said.

Notable holdovers included Sony’s “The Bounty Hunter,” earning an estimated $12.4 million at 3,074 locations, and 20th Century Fox’s “Diary of a Wimpy Kid,” with $10 million from 3,083. Both films entered their soph seshes, dropping 40% and 55%, respectively.

Fox’s “Avatar,” which screened at approximately 170 3D locations, fell from the frame’s top 10 for the first time since it bowed Dec. 18. Entering its 15th frame, “Avatar” grossed an estimated $2 million at 930 engagements for a cume of $740 million.

Among limited releases, Focus benefited from an atypical expansion of “Greenberg,” adding 178 locations for a total of 181 in its soph sesh. Pic’s cume stands at $1.2 million.

Focus prexy of theatrical distribution Jack Foley said the rollout was meant to maximize strong word-of-mouth in 60 key markets. The film also performed well in smaller markets like Denver and Scottsdale, Ariz., where it gained traction among older auds.

“It was all about hitting the market while it was hot,” Foley said.

Canadian auds embraced native son Egoyan’s “Chloe,” shelling out $288,450 at 44 engagements. Combined North American weekend gross for the Sony Classics release reached $1 million off 350.

Despite “Dragon” opening day-and-date overseas, “Alice” ranked as the top-grossing film at the international B.O., earning an estimated $46 million at 7,170 screens in 51 territories.

Overall international gross for “Alice” totals $363 million, with approximately 71% attributable to 3D revenue, grossing $257.7 million.

“Alice” launched in China and France, with $5.1 million and $14.9 million, respectively. In China, “Alice” ranks as Disney’s all-time highest opening.

Top market for “Dragon” was Russia, where in its soph sesh dropped just 12% for a weekend take of $6.4 million. Cume in that territory stands at $16.7 million. Mexico and Germany followed with $2.6 million on 725 screens and $2.5 million on 799, respectively.

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