As expected, Paramount's How to Train Your Dragon was easily the weekend's top film. However, despite a wide 3D launch, the latest effort from DreamWorks Animation opened on the lower end of expectations with $43.73 million. The opening weekend take for Dragon was unable to match the debuts of recent computer animated films to launch in March, which have included last year's Monsters vs. Aliens ($59.32 million), 2008's Horton Hears A Who! ($45.01 million) and 2006's Ice Age: The Meltdown ($68.03 million). And as is normally the case with animated features from DreamWorks, Dragon carried an expensive production budget and was marketed very heavily.
At the same time, How to Train Your Dragon did register the third largest opening weekend of 2010 thus far (behind only Alice in Wonderland and Valentine's Day) and the eighth largest opening weekend on record for the month of March. Strong early word of mouth, inflated midweek business before and after Easter and continued higher-priced 3D grosses should lead to strong holding power in the weeks ahead, though the film will face major competition for 3D screens with the debut of Warner's Clash of the Titans on Friday.
Fellow 3D release Alice in Wonderland saw its three-week first place run end this weekend. The Tim Burton directed blockbuster from Disney finished in second with $17.71 million. That was down a sizable 48 percent from last weekend, but still represented a respectable hold when considering the 3D screens Alice in Wonderland lost to How to Train Your Dragon. The 24-day domestic gross for Alice in Wonderland stands at a massive $293.53 million, which means the film will cross the $300 million mark later this week.
Opening a bit softer than expected was MGM's Hot Tub Time Machine. The R-rated comedy starring John Cusack debuted in third place with $14.02 million. MGM attempted to build strong internet buzz in its marketing of the film. While that worked in generating online discussion about the film, it didn't work all that well in ultimately getting people into theatres this weekend. On the positive side of things, Hot Tub Time Machine did hold up fairly well throughout the weekend for its genre, as it saw a weekend to Friday ratio of 2.89 to 1. That could be a good sign for the film as it enters the midweek.
After a so-so start last weekend, Sony's The Bounty Hunter held up fairly well in its second weekend. The romantic comedy starring Jennifer Aniston and Gerard Butler finished in fourth with $12.01 million. That was down one spot and down 42 percent from last weekend. While reviews for the film have been terrible, the film's holding power has been quite solid so far, as there is clearly a disconnect between critics and moviegoers on the film. The Bounty Hunter has grossed $38.42 million in ten days.
Fox's Diary of a Wimpy Kid was down four spots to round out the weekend's top five. The family film grossed $10.12 million, which was down 54 percent from last weekend's strong debut. That is a sharp second weekend decline for a film aimed at younger moviegoers, as the film was clearly aided last weekend by the rush-out of fans of the Wimpy Kid book series and hurt by How to Train Your Dragon this weekend. At the same time, Diary of a Wimpy Kid is still outpacing expectations with $35.90 million in ten days.