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‘Alice’ still queen of the box office

Disney pic earns $34.5 million; 'Wimpy Kid' places second

In a frame that offered something for everyone, family-friendly films fared best at the domestic box office, with Disney’s 3D juggernaut “Alice in Wonderland” again claiming the top spot in its third weekend, earning an estimated $34.5 million at 3,739 playdates.

Meanwhile, fresh kidpic 20th Century Fox’s “Diary of a Wimpy Kid” scored a narrow win over Sony’s romantic comedy “The Bounty Hunter.”

“Diary” turned in $21.8 million at 3,077 locations, followed by “Bounty Hunter,” starring Jennifer Aniston and Gerard Butler, which romanced an even split among the age demos, repping 50% under 30, for an estimated launch of $21 million at 3,074 engagements.

“Repo Men,” the frame’s other wide release, grossed $6.2 million at 2,521 locations.

It’s the second disappointing launch for Universal in as many weeks.

Studio’s Iraq-war themed “Green Zone” dropped 58% in its soph sesh for an estimated $5.9 million at 3,004 locations.

Overall domestic take for “Green Zone” stands at $24.7 million.

At the specialty B.O., Focus began its rollout of its Ben Stiller starrer “Greenberg,” earning an estimated $120,432 at three locations, for a per-screen average of $40,144.

“Alice” continued its three-week international reign, slipping 41% for an estimated weekend gross of $47 million on 6,687 screens in 49 markets, bringing its overseas haul to $300 million. Pic’s worldwide total is an estimated $565.8 million.

Domestically, solid earnings from key players helped boost the frame 21% over the same weekend last year. Overall, year-to-date B.O. is up 12% over the same period last year.

“Alice” dropped 45% in its third week for a domestic haul of $265.8 million to become the highest-grossing film for a March release. Previous record holder was Warner Bros.’ “300,” which earned $210.6 million in 2006.

The 3D component helped boost overall figures for “Alice,” which played at 2,063 3D locations and on 188 3D-equipped Imax screens, repping 60% of its total engagements.

Disney prexy of domestic distribution Chuck Viane credited the 3D aspect as a driving force behind the film’s success.

“It just proves nowadays that in the hands of someone like (director) Tim Burton, 3D can only enhance the overall experience,” he said. “When you pair the right people, the sum of its parts often is greater than the whole.”

“Alice” continues to play well among all demos, with roughly 55%-60% of its aud comprised of adults, many of whom are turning out for latenight screenings.

Fox’s PG-rated “Diary” saw an even split between genders, with 59% of filmgoers under 25. Based on Jeff Kinney’s bestselling illustrated novel, pic tells the story of a wise-cracking middle school student, played by Zachary Gordon, and co-stars Steve Zahn and Rachel Harris as his parents.

According to Fox, the studio is considering possible adaptations of the series’ next installments. Pic is produced by Nina Jacobson, in her first gig since exiting Disney as studio prexy, and directed by Thor Freudenthal.

“Diary” narrowly beat Sony’s wide release “The Bounty Hunter,” about a reporter who becomes the next target of her bounty hunter ex-husband.

Sony distrib chief Rory Bruer credited the combined appeal of Aniston and Butler as the main draw among a 58% female-heavy aud.

“We had two stars who really worked hard to get the word out,” Bruer said. “And I think that people can genuinely tell they’re friends, which ultimately played really well with audiences.”

Failing to gain much traction among auds was Universal’s R-rated “Repo Men,” starring Jude Law and Forest Whitaker, about repo men sent to repossess mechanical organs if the owner can’t pay. Directed by Miguel Sapochnik, pic was co-financed by Relativity Media.

“Repo Men” is the second recent disappointing launch for U, following last weekend’s “Green Zone,” starring Matt Damon and directed by Paul Greengrass, which opened with $14.5 million. Both films saw less-then-stellar results from their male-targeted aud.

Strong perfs from a pair of Paramount holdovers, R-rated comedy “She’s Out of My League” and the Martin Scorsese thriller “Shutter Island,” helped boost the frame.

In its soph sesh, “League” dropped 38% for a take of $6 million at 2,958 locations, while “Island” slipped 42% in its fifth frame, grossing $4.8 million at 2,704. Total haul for both films reached an estimated $20 million and $115.8 million, respectively.

Fox’s 3D holdover giant “Avatar” continued to perform well in its 14th frame, earning $4 million at 1,263 locations. Pic’s domestic cume totals $736.9 million.

Overseas, “Avatar” scored $13 million at 3,718 screens in 68 markets for an international cume of $1.94 billion. Worldwide totals soared to $2.67 billion.

Top territories for the film were Japan and China, markets where “Alice” has yet to launch. In Japan, “Avatar” dropped a mere 22% in its 13th frame, grossing $2.2 million on 381 screens. Chinese auds shelled out $1.7 million at 550, dropping 40% in its 11th frame. China reps “Avatar’s” leading market with a cume of $192 million, with Japan orbiting $160.5 million.

Still, it’s “Alice” that is now dominating most overseas markets.

In the U.K., “Alice” earned $7.2 million at 753 screens, dropping 35%, for a total of $45.9 million. Germany followed with $4.4 million at 509 and a cume of $22.9 million. Pic’s total 3D take reached $216 million, accounting for 72% of the total international gross at approximately 46% of the overall screen count.

“Alice” should face tough competish next weekend as Paramount launches its 3D toon “How to Train Your Dragon” day-and-date in 30 territories, including Germany, Italy, Spain and Australia.

Toon bowed early in three markets this weekend, earning $8.1 million at 698 screens. In Russia, “Dragon” grossed $7.5 million on 600 screens, 60% of which were 3D-equipped, repping 75% of the total revenue.

Par will hope to benefit from school holidays in most day-and-date markets next week.

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