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Depp's `Rango' corrals $38M opening at box office

The Associated Press, Sunday, March 6, 2011, 10:53am (PST)

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- "Rango" has lassoed the top spot at the box office.

The animated Paramount film featuring Johnny Depp as the voice of a Wild West chameleon sheriff rode into town with a $38 million debut, according to studio estimates released Sunday.

"Rango," which was directed by "Pirates of the Caribbean" film franchise maestro Gore Verbinski, is the first animated feature from Industrial Light and Magic, the special effects studio founded by George Lucas in 1975.

"The draw for audiences was certainly Johnny Depp and Gore Verbinski, but when you look at the reviews, it was 88 percent positive on Rotten Tomatoes, which is a level that Pixar operates at," said Don Harris, Paramount's executive vice president for distribution. "This is a film that has a shot at being nominated for Academy Awards this time next year."

Universal's mind-bending thriller "The Adjustment Bureau," starring Matt Damon and Emily Blunt, debuted in the No. 2 spot with $20 million. CBS Films' fantasy tale "Beastly" with Alex Pettyfer and Vanessa Hudgens opened at No. 3 with $10.1 million, rounding out the weekend's top three films. It was another down weekend for Hollywood, with grosses coming in less than the corresponding weekend last year.

"Comparisons to a year ago are tough considering that's when 'Alice in Wonderland' opened with $116.1 million," said Hollywood.com analyst Paul Dergarabedian, referring to the Tim Burton film. "We're not even in that realm this year, so this is our second down weekend in a row. We've only had one up weekend at the box office versus a year ago. There's this malaise overtaking the marketplace."

The raunchy Warner Bros. comedy "Hall Pass" stayed committed in its second weekend in the No. 4 position with $9 million. The 3-D animated Walt Disney romance "Gnomeo and Juliet" also kept that loving feeling going in its fourth weekend with $6.9 million in the No. 5 spot, despite an animated showdown against "Rango," which was not released in 3-D.

"The King's Speech," the royal chronicle from the Weinstein Co. that ruled last week's Academy Awards with 12 wins, maintained the No. 7 place this weekend with $6.5 million. Dergarabedian noted that audiences who wanted to see the Oscar front-runner starring Colin Firth and Geoffrey Rush likely rushed to see the film before the Academy Awards telecast.

The weekend's other wide release, Relativity Media's throwback comedy "Take Me Home Tonight" starring Topher Grace and Anna Faris, only took home $3.5 million in the No. 11 spot. The box-office war will heat up with another barrage of movies opening next weekend, which includes the sci-fi saga "Battle: Los Angeles" and the PG-13 fairytale "Red Riding Hood."

Estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday at U.S. and Canadian theaters, according to Hollywood.com. Final figures will be released Monday.

1. "Rango," $38 million.

2. "The Adjustment Bureau," $20.9 million.

3. "Beastly," $10.1 million

4. "Hall Pass," $9 million.

5. "Gnomeo and Juliet," $6.9 million.

6. "Unknown," $6.6 million.

7. "The King's Speech," $6.5 million.

8. "Just Go With It," $6.5 million.

9. "I Am Number Four," $5.7 million.

10. "Justin Bieber: Never Say Never," $4.3 million.

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Online:

http://www.hollywood.com/boxoffice

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Universal Pictures and Focus Features are owned by NBC Universal, a unit of Comcast Corp.; Sony Pictures, Sony Screen Gems and Sony Pictures Classics are units of Sony Corp.; Paramount and Paramount Vantage are divisions of Viacom Inc.; Disney's parent is The Walt Disney Co.; 20th Century Fox, Fox Searchlight Pictures and Fox Atomic are owned by News Corp.; Warner Bros. and New Line are units of Time Warner Inc.; MGM is owned by a consortium of Providence Equity Partners, Texas Pacific Group, Sony Corp., Comcast Corp., DLJ Merchant Banking Partners and Quadrangle Group; Lionsgate is owned by Lions Gate Entertainment Corp.; IFC Films is owned by Rainbow Media Holdings, a subsidiary of Cablevision Systems Corp.; Rogue Pictures is owned by Relativity Media LLC; Overture Films is a subsidiary of Liberty Media Corp.

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