‘Dragon’ flies to top of box office

3D toon adds $15 million; 'Plan' takes second

After last weekend’s photo finish, Paramount and DreamWorks Animation’s 3D toon “How to Train Your Dragon” elbowed its way to the top of the domestic B.O., this time with considerable room to fire-breathe. Toon earned an estimated $15 million in its fifth frame at 3,665 locations.

CBS Films’ romantic comedy “The Back-up Plan” debuted behind “Dragon,” with an estimated $12.3 million at 3,280 engagements, while the frame’s other wide release, Warner Bros.’ action comedy “The Losers,” underplayed with an estimated $9.6 million at 2,936. Studio had predicted”Losers” to perform in the low teens.

Modest earnings for the frame’s wide releases made for a soft weekend overall, down 13% from the same weekend last year.

Meanwhile, Disneynature launched its docu “Oceans” at 1,206 locations for a three-day total of $6 million. “Oceans,” the second offering in the nature brand’s series, bowed on Earth Day (April 22), bringing its domestic tally to a buoyant $8.5 million.

Dragon” had less bite overseas, grossing an estimated $11 million on 6,671 screens in 60 territories. Still, the weekend take boosted overall international figures to a stellar $194 million as the toon continues to face strong competition on the 3D front from Warner’s “Clash of the Titans.”

“Clash” claimed top spot overseas, with 66% of its $32 million take coming from 3D runs, compared with “Dragon’s” 59% 3D share.

Both films continue to earn more than half of their weekend revenue from 3D formats. “Clash’s” earnings rep a profile more similar to Stateside auds (55% came from 3D). For “Dragon,” the format accounted for 67% of the weekend gross. Higher 3D ticket prices have boosted the toon’s holdover presence, but “Dragon” continues to play unchallenged on the kid front, resulting in a mere 23% drop.

The 3D number has stayed consistent since its opening weekend,” said DWA’s head of worldwide marketing Anne Globe. “We still have strong playtime ahead before we get into the summer movie mayhem, and we hope to have continued growth with our audience.”

“Dragon” earned 11% of its 3D total at 186 Imax locations. The large-screen distrib will switch to “Iron Man 2” after a six-week run of “Dragon,” but has made a strategic move to screen 20th Century Fox’s “Avatar” during latenight screenings.

Boosted by record-setting DVD sales and Imax runs, “Avatar” dropped just 2% after a 19% uptick last weekend. This weekend, “Avatar” grossed just under $1 million at 429 locations, of which 103 were 3D-equipped, with an additional 78 Imax screens. “Home entertainment has been running a lot of marketing dollars for the DVD release, so that puts the film back in the forefront of the theatrical experience,” said Fox distrib topper Chris Aronson, who called the fact the pic was still out in 3D a bonus.

“Back-up” scored best with females, who made up 71% of the aud, with many over 35. Pic, starring Jennifer Lopez, saw 21% of its turnout from Latino auds.

CBS Films distrib topper Steven Friedlander noted, “We knew the pie would be small, but we also knew that for women, we would be the biggest slice of that pie.”

One of the reasons romantic c omedies hold up so well is that in the first weekend you see girlfriends, and the second weekend dates,” he added.

“Back-up” tells the story of a thirtysomething single woman who becomes pregnant, then meets her ideal man. Pic received a B CinemaScore rating, similar to 20th Century Fox’s laffer “Date Night.”

“Date Night” dropped 37% in its third frame for an estimated $10.7 million at 3,294 locations. Overall total for the comedy reached $63.5 million.

Guys had their own back-up plan with “Losers,” which skewed 60% male, with 64% of them under 35. Warner said it expected to see a male-dominated aud for the comicbook adaptation about a motley crew of former CIA agents. The film received a B Cinema­Score rating from its core aud.

They shoot people and watch things blow up,” said Warner exec VP of domestic distribution Jeff Goldstein. “It’s what guys of any age like.”

Still, “Losers” could have taken a hit from the male-targeted “Kick-Ass,” which followed closely with an estimated $9.5 million and a drop of 52%. Goldstein said he expects “Losers” to drop about 45% next weekend, holding onto males until Par’s “Iron Man 2” enters the market May 7.

“Oceans” marks the second installment in Disney’s nature docu series, the first being “Earth,” which launched with a three-day total of $8.8 million. Like its predecessor, group sales drove the docu’s opening gross, especially on Earth Day, as Disney marketed the film heavily toward Stateside schools. Largest turnout came from ages 2-11, repping 24%, as well as families, with a 47% share.

Disney also launched its “See ‘Oceans,’ Save Oceans” initiative — a joint venture with the Nature Conservancy that donates a portion of the docu’s earnings toward saving the coral reefs in the Bahamas. According to the Mouse House, the weekend gross could save approximately 2,800 reef acres, with plans to extend the promotion through Wednesday.

The weekend saw little fresh action on the specialty front.

Sony Pictures Classics’ foreign-language Oscar winner “The Secret in Their Eyes” entered its soph sesh with $372,214 at 33 locations, up 23 from last weekend. The film scored a healthy per-screen average of $11,279, boosting its cume to $605,022.

Also expanding in its second week, Screen Media’s James Ivory-directed “The City of Your Final Destination” took in an estimated $68,000 at 22 engagements. With a slight per-screen average of $3,090, the expansion marks a somewhat disappointing perf for “City” after scoring the frame’s highest per-screen average last weekend.

On the international front, “Back-up Plan” opened day and date in Mexico, earning an estimated $800,000 on 351 screens. Launch ranks as the highest opening for Lopez in that market.

Still, 3D pics continue to dominate overseas, led by “Dragon,” “Clash” and Disney’s “Alice in Wonderland,” which grossed $26.7 million on 7,233 screens in 54 territories. Pic’s cume reached $548.5 million in its eighth frame.

“Alice” held steady in key 3D market Japan, where it grossed an estimated $10.2 million on 853 screens, down just 29%. The 3D fantasy had no trouble topping “Clash,” which opened in Japan to a mere $3.1 million on 481.

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