‘Rango’ Tops Weekend Box Office

Johnny Depp starring animated flick nabs $38 million, besting Matt Damon, Alex Pettyfer vehicles.

This summer, Johnny Depp will return for a fourth go round as Captain Jack Sparrow in “Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides.” But even before the eagerly awaited sequel hits theaters, the three-time Oscar nominee has already marked 2011 with a return to his most familiar role: box office champ.

Led by Depp and an all-star cast of voice actors, “Rango” held serve after a strong Friday night opening to win the weekend box office with an estimated $38 million. The story of a braggadocios chameleon who winds up leading residents of Dirt, the Gore Verbinski animated western was no doubt buoyed by strong reviews and an almost live-action look, created for the screen by Industrial Light and Magic with input from famed cinematographer Roger Deakins.

While impressive, the tally marked just the sixth highest opening weekend gross of Depp’s career, after the first three “Pirates” films, “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” and last year’s “Alice in Wonderland.”

“The Adjustment Bureau,” meanwhile, nabbed $20.9 million to come in second place. The Matt Damon and Emily Blunt starring story of two lovers determined to fight determinism (and some men in old style hats and coats for good measure), “The Adjustment Bureau” is based on a story from acclaimed author Philip K. Dick.

For Damon, the strong opening no doubt represents a return to form after disappointing grosses for his most recent leading performances, “Hereafter,” “Green Zone” and “The Informant.”

In third place, “Beastly” managed to scare up $10.1 million in its first weekend of release. A contemporary update of the fairy tale “Beauty and the Beast,” the film might have struck a chord with girls who fall “under the radar,” star Vanessa Hudgens told MTV News.

“I feel like a lot of girls think it’s easier to not really stand up and let their true selves be out there and known,” she explained. “And I feel like when that happens, a lot of girls look up to guys who embody that, who are just truly out there. And of course my character falls for that, as I think a lot of other girls would.”

Rounding out the top five, “Hall Pass” and “Gnomeo and Juliet” made $9 million and $6.9 million, respectively.

While new releases dominated the top of the chart, however, they also saw action towards the bottom. Released in 2003 theaters, “Take Me Home Tonight” managed just $3.5 million and an eleventh place finish.

In tenth place, “Justin Bieber: Never Say Never” scored $4.3 million to bring its overall haul to $68.8 million after four weeks in release. Already the third highest grossing documentary of all time, Beiber’s film should also soon pass “Michael Jackson’s This is It” to become the highest grossing concert film ever sometime next week.