‘Rio’ Flies And ‘Water For Elephants’ Thrives At The Weekend Box Office

FROM MTV MOVIES: The box office got a boost from kids over the holiday weekend as “Rio” held on to the top spot with moviegoers and the Easter-themed “Hop” crossed the $100 million mark, according to studio estimates. Overall ticket sales were up 39 percent from the same period last year. Strengthened by 3-D showings, the animated “Rio” earned $26.8 million for a two-week domestic total of $81.2 million.

Filmmaker Tyler Perry has released three movies around Easter, and this year’s entry, “Madea’s Big Happy Family,” sat right in the middle of his scorecard, with a $25.7 million debut (“Meet the Browns” opened with $20.1 million in 2008; “Why Did I Get Married Too?” made $29.3 million last year) but suffered the lowest debut of any of the entries in his poorly reviewed “Madea” series. Still, that was good enough to take the #2 spot for the weekend.

Robert Pattinson did double the business of his last non-“Twilight” starring role with “Water for Elephants,” which debuted with $17.5 million to land at #3 on the box-office tally. Of course, last year’s “Remember Me” didn’t have Academy Award winners Reese Witherspoon and Christoph Waltz or best-selling source material from novelist Sara Gruen. The romantic drama opened on par with the similarly themed “The Notebook,” adjusted for inflation. “Elephants” has split critics almost down the middle, according to movie review website Rotten Tomatoes.

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