Universal's HOP blew away expectations and the competition this weekend with an impressive debut of $37.54 million. The Easter themed family film represents the second straight major success for Illumination Entertainment and Universal, following in the footsteps of last year's Despicable Me. As was the case with Despicable Me, strong marketing played a pivotal role in the better than expected start of HOP. The film generated the second largest debut of 2011 thus far, behind only the recent $38.08 million start of the much more expensive Rango. As was the case with Rango, HOP didn't have the benefit of higher priced 3D tickets either. HOP also registered the fifth largest debut ever in the month of April (behind Fast & Furious, Clash of the Titans, Anger Management and Scary Movie 4). With no new family fare on the horizon next weekend, HOP will have a great chance of holding up very well next weekend as family audiences will want to catch it before Fox's Rio hits on April 15.
HOP didn't make nearly as big of an impact internationally. It debuted with $7.0 million from 26 foreign territories. Key grosses included $2.5 million in the United Kingdom, $0.8 million in Italy and $0.8 million in Germany. HOP will open in Australia next weekend.
Source Code finished in a distant second with $14.81 million. Summit's sci-fi thriller starring Jake Gyllenhaal opened in line with pre-release expectations. Source Code had generated strong online buzz for some time, but that ultimately didn't transfer into a break-out performance this weekend. A key reason for that was that Source Code didn't attract a big number of younger moviegoers, as 64 percent of its audience was 30 and over. However, the critically acclaimed film held up well as the weekend went on, especially for a sci-fi film and given the competition from the NCAA Final Four on Saturday. After opening with $5.05 million on Friday, the film registered an opening weekend to Friday ratio of 2.93 to 1. That is a positive early sign for the film's holding power going forward, especially if it can start to play stronger with moviegoers under 30.
FilmDistrict was off to a nice start as a distributor with the better than expected start of Insidious. The ultra low-budget PG-13 horror film debuted with $13.27 million to take third place this weekend. Online buzz for Insidious had long been rather dormant, but erupted in the last two weeks before release once the film's ad-campaign kicked into a higher gear. There is little doubt that the performance of Insidious limited the potential of Source Code this weekend, especially when considering that the audience for Insidious was evenly split between moviegoers under 25 and those 25 and over. After opening with $4.78 million on Friday, Insidious generated an opening weekend to Friday ratio of 2.78 to 1. That is a strong figure for a PG-13 horror film and is a promising sign going forward.
Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules fell three spots and a sharp 58 percent to land in fourth with $10.04 million. With the stronger than expected performance of HOP, it was no surprise that Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules tumbled this weekend, especially since last year's Diary of a Wimpy Kid was front-loaded for a family film in its own right (it fell 54 percent in its second weekend of release). Even with the decline, Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules has already grossed $38.20 million in ten days, placing it 6 percent ahead of the pace of Diary of a Wimpy Kid.
Warner's Sucker Punch took an even bigger tumble as it was down five spots and a massive 68 percent from last weekend. The Zack Snyder directed action film finished in seventh with a disappointing $6.02 million. Even with the aid of a PG-13 rating, Sucker Punch just isn't holding its own against the competition or for its genre in general. The film has grossed $29.81 million in ten days, placing it 14 percent behind the pace of last year's Kick-Ass (which fell 53 percent in its second weekend).
Internationally, Sucker Punch grossed $11.5 million from 39 foreign markets this weekend. Key international debuts included $2.3 million in France, $2.0 million in Russia, $1.8 million in Germany and $1.3 million in the United Kingdom. The international total for Sucker Punch now stands at $20.3 million.
On the other end of the spectrum, Relativity's Limitless and Lionsgate's The Lincoln Lawyer both continued to hold up well in their respective third weekends of release. Limitless was down 38 percent to take fifth with $9.31 million, while The Lincoln Lawyer was down 36 percent to follow in sixth with $6.83 million. Thanks in part to strong word of mouth, both Limitless and The Lincoln Lawyer have exceeded expectations in a big way with respective 17-day grosses of $55.51 million and $39.42 million.