Fox's Rio held up quite nicely to lead the Easter weekend box office with $26.32 million. The 3D computer-animated blockbuster fell just 33 percent from last weekend's debut. Rio has now grossed $80.81 million through ten days of release, placing it 12 percent behind the pace of last year's How to Train Your Dragon. At this rate, Rio has an excellent chance of being the highest grossing domestic release of the first four months of 2011. Rio continues to perform much stronger internationally, where it grossed $44.2 million from 67 foreign markets this weekend. Key grosses included $6.7 million in Brazil, $3.8 million in France, $3.0 million in Mexico and $2.5 million in Spain. The international total for Rio stands at $204.7 million, bringing the film's current worldwide haul to $285.5 million.
Tyler Perry's Madea's Big Happy Family had been widely expected to open in first this weekend, but ultimately had to settle for a close second place start. The latest Tyler Perry film from Lionsgate grossed $25.07 million, as it trailed Rio by $1.25 million over the weekend. While Madea's Big Happy Family didn't open as strong as the respective $41.03 million and $30.03 million starts of 2009's Madea Goes to Jail and 2006's Madea's Family Reunion, the film did perform solidly in line with many of Perry's non-Madea films. Madea's Big Happy Family opened 14 percent softer than last year's Why Did I Get Married Too? ($29.29 million) and 25 percent stronger than 2008's Meet the Browns ($20.08 million). That places Big Happy Family on course for a final gross in the neighborhood of $50 million to $55 million.
In addition to the strong hold of Rio, Fox had more good news this weekend with the solid start of Water for Elephants. The drama starring Reese Witherspoon, Robert Pattinson and Christoph Waltz opened in line with expectations with $16.84 million. For an Easter weekend release, Water for Elephants held up fairly well as the weekend went on (it registered an opening weekend to Friday ratio of 2.43 to 1). That strongly suggests that the film wasn't being driven primarily by Pattinson fans this weekend and is a good early sign for the film's holding power going forward. Water for Elephants opened 10 percent softer than the $18.62 million start of 2009's The Time Traveler's Wife.
With obvious help from the Easter holiday, HOP held up extremely well this weekend. The family film from Universal and Illumination Entertainment was up 14 percent from last weekend to take fourth place with $12.19 million. In the process, HOP joined Rango and Just Go with It to become just the third release of 2011 thus far to reach the $100 million domestic milestone (though Rio will soon be joining that club as well). HOP has greatly exceeded expectations with a 24-day domestic take of $100.22 million. Internationally the film grossed $10.7 million from 53 foreign territories this weekend. That places its international total at $47.2 million and worldwide total at $147.4 million.
African Cats opened in sixth place with $6.00 million. The third release from Disney's Disneynature label opened slightly below the $6.06 million start of last year's Oceans, though it should be noted that the first weekend gross of Oceans was a bit deflated from the film opening on a Thursday. With the aid of Earth Day and Good Friday, African Cats grossed $3.33 million on Friday, but fell off extremely quickly as the weekend went on (it registered an opening weekend to Friday ratio of just 1.80 to 1). With the potential help of future field trip grosses, African Cats will hope to stabilize going forward, especially during weekdays.
One week before its domestic start, Universal's Fast Five was off to a strong start in select international markets. The fifth installment of the popular franchise grossed $24.0 million from four foreign markets. The break-down of grosses in those four markets includes $10.7 million in Australia, $8.8 million in the United Kingdom, $3.4 million in Korea and $0.95 million in New Zealand. The debut of Fast Five in Australia represented the largest ever debut for Universal in Australia and is good news for the film's domestic launch on Friday.