‘Hop’ Vaults Over Weekend Box-Office Competition

Last week's #1, 'Diary of a Wimpy Kid,' drops to #4.

“Hop” (featuring the voice of outrageous jokester Russell Brand as an Easter Bunny who poops candy) had the strongest opening weekend of any movie released thus far in 2011. The holiday-themed kids’ movie enjoyed a $38.1 million opening, which is just a hair (or “hare”?) more than the $38 million debut of “Rango” five weeks ago.

Both flicks are rated PG. “Hop,” which co-stars James Marsden (“X-Men”) in the lead human role, earned the rating for some mildly crude humor, whereas “Rango,” featuring Johnny Depp voicing a cartoon lizard, has some crude humor, a bit of cowboy action and characters who smoke.

“Rango” remains the better reviewed of the two, with 89 percent of critics finding it worthwhile, according to Rotten Tomatoes, which collects reviews from critics. “Hop” sits at just 20 percent on the Tomatometer at press time. (“Rango” was produced by Paramount Pictures, which like MTV is a subsidiary of Viacom.)

The strong debut of “Hop” is great news for Russell Brand, whose “Get Him to the Greek” debuted at #2 last summer with $17.5 million. The R-rated comedy went on to gross $60.9 million domestically. Brand, who is married to singer Katy Perry, will turn up again in theaters next weekend as the drunken title character in the remake of the 1981 Dudley Moore vehicle “Arthur.”

The weekend’s #2 movie was “Source Code” starring Jake Gyllenhaal (“Donnie Darko”), with a $15 million debut. The mind-bending, time-traveling, Hitchcock-influenced intimate action drama co-stars Vera Fermiga (“Up in the Air”) and Michelle Monaghan (“Eagle Eye”). “Source Code” is the second feature-length film from director Duncan Jones, whose somewhat similarly themed sci-fi mind-bender “Moon” was beloved by critics, though it grossed just $5 million domestically.

“Source Code” boasts a 89 percent critical average on Rotten Tomatoes — just 1 percent less than “Moon.” Jones, whose father, David Bowie, often sang about outer space as his alter-ego Ziggy Stardust, wrote “Moon” but worked from a script by Ben Ripley (“Species III”) for “Source Code.”

The weekend’s other new release, “Insidious,” was #3 with a $13.5 million debut. The haunted-house-themed horror/thriller was directed by James Wan (“Saw”) and produced by the team who made “Paranormal Activity.” The movie was reportedly made for just $1 million. The original, Wan-directed “Saw” was famously made for just $1.2 million and went on to earn $55.1 million domestically in 2004. It spawned six sequels, all with Wan onboard as producer.

Last weekend’s #1 film, “Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules,” was #4 this weekend with $10.2 million, for a two-week total of $38.3 million. Bradley Cooper (“The Hangover”) thriller “Limitless” was #5 with $9.4 million, giving it a $55.6 million total that easily surpasses its $27 million budget. “The Lincoln Lawyer” was #6 with $7.1 million for $39.6 million total. The drama is the best-reviewed movie from Matthew McConaughey (“Sahara”) in years.

The critically panned “Sucker Punch” fell hard and fast to #7 with just $6.1 million in its second weekend of release. The CGI-heavy, female-led action fantasy from director Zack Snyder (“300″) has made $29.8 million domestically against it’s $82 million budget. Warner Bros., the studio behind “Sucker Punch,” enlisted Snyder to reboot one of their biggest franchises with “Superman: Man of Steel,” which is set for release next year with Henry Cavill (“Stardust”) in the lead role.

The aforementioned “Rango” was #8 over the weekend with $4.6 million. It’s $113.8 domestic total puts it in the 2011 $100 million+ club with Adam Sandler’s “Just Go With It,” which is no longer in the top 10 but has earned $101.4 million since it was released two months ago. The Elton John-produced Disney movie “Gnomeo and Juliet” is close behind them with $96.8 million.

Comedic sci-fi homage “Paul” was the #9 movie with $4.3 million for a $31.9 million total. “Battle: Los Angeles,” whose aliens are much less friendly than the little guy voiced by Seth Rogen (“Knocked Up”) in “Paul,” was #10 with $3.5 million, for a $78.5 million total.

The Weinstein Company’s decision to re-edit Oscar-winning historical drama “The King’s Speech” in order to change it’s R rating to a PG-13 didn’t seem to broaden the film’s audience as they’d hoped. The new cut, which excises a spout of harsh language during a speech therapy session scene, earned just $1.1 million in its first weekend of release. By comparison, the original R-rated version made $1.6 million last week. The film has earned $136.6 million domestically and $230 million internationally since it was released in late November of last year.

In addition to “Arthur,” next weekend’s new releases include the assassin drama “Hanna”; the sword-and-sorcery comedy “Your Highness” starring Danny McBride (“Tropic Thunder”), James Franco (“The Pineapple Express”) and Natalie Portman (“Black Swan”); and “Soul Surfer,” the real-life tale of pro surfer Bethany Hamilton. Hamilton lost an arm in a shark attack at the age of 13 but went on to take first place at the 2005 NSSA National Championships. MTV Books published her book, “Soul Surfer: A True Story of Faith, Family and Fighting to Get Back on the Board.”

Check out everything we’ve got on “Limitless,” “Source Code” and “Insidious.”

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