Some folks thought a 3-D retelling of a Shakespearean classic starring computer-generated garden gnomes in the title roles and backed by the music of Sir Elton John wouldn't work. But the joke is on them.
"Gnomeo & Juliet" was the #1 movie at the box office over the weekend, besting newcomers "Hall Pass" and the underperforming "Drive Angry 3D." Nobody is happier than the film's executive producer.
"We never thought we'd be going to our own Oscar party having a #1 movie," John told MTV News on the red carpet for his 19th annual Academy Awards viewing party at the Pacific Design Center in Los Angeles, which benefits his Elton John AIDS Foundation.
"We are over the moon," added his husband, David Furnish, who is also a producer on the Disney film, which features the voice talents of James McAvoy ("Atonement"), Emily Blunt ("The Devil Wears Prada"), Michael Caine ("The Dark Knight"), Jason Statham ("The Transporter"), Ashley Jensen ("Extras") and Ozzy Osbourne, among others.
In its third week of release, "Gnomeo & Juliet" took in $14.2 million for a total haul of $75.1 million, according to studio estimates. "Movies don't usually do 3, 2, 1," John pointed out. "They usually go 1, 8, 12.
"We really fought hard to get this movie made," he continued. "There were a lot of people who fought against us making this movie within the organization that we made it with. And we're so glad to have the last laugh."
"Hall Pass," the new comedy from writer/directors Peter and Bobby Farrelly ("There's Something About Mary"), debuted at #2 with $13.4 million over a weekend down 21 percent overall from the same time last year. Owen Wilson ("Wedding Crashers") and Jason Sudeikis ("Saturday Night Live") play a pair of married men whose wives, played by Jenna Fischer ("The Office") and Christina Applegate ("Anchorman"), give them permission to cheat for one week.
The movie's opening isn't strong, but it's far from the crash and burn of the latest action vehicle for Nicolas Cage. With a production budget estimated between $45 and $50 million, "Drive Angry 3D" was a bomb, taking in just $5.1 million in its first weekend of release to land at #9. That's roughly half the opening weekend of his critically reviled "Season of the Witch," which has earned less than $25 million domestically since it was released in early January.
Last week's #1 movie, "Unknown," starring Liam Neeson ("Taken"), was #3 at the box office with $12.4 million in its second weekend for a total domestic take of $42.8 million. The Adam Sandler/ Jennifer Aniston romantic comedy "Just Go With It" was #4 with $11.1 million in its third weekend for a $79.4 million total.
Young-adult-oriented franchise wannabe "I Am Number Four" took in $11 million in its second weekend to land at #5, for a $37.7 million total, which is right around the film's estimated budget. "Justin Bieber: Never Say Never" was just behind with $9.2 million for a $62.7 million gross bolstered by special ticket packages when it debuted.
Newly minted Best Picture winner "The King's Speech" was #7 with $7.6 million for a $114.5 million total in 14 weeks of release. The drama earned four statues at the 83rd Annual Academy Awards on Sunday, including Best Director (Tom Hooper), Best Actor (Colin Firth), Best Original Screenplay and Best Picture.
"Big Mommas: Like Father, Like Son," which seems unlikely to earn many awards, was #8 with $7.5 million for a two-week total of $28.5 million — far from the success of the Martin Lawrence series' two previous installments.
With a spectacularly low 6 percent critical average on Rotten Tomatoes, "The Roommate" hung in the top ten with another $2 million in box-office receipts. Starring Leighton Meester ("Gossip Girl") and Minka Kelly ("Friday Night Lights"), the movie has earned $35.9 million dollars in four weeks of release.
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