Johnny Depp Takes Weekend Box Office With $38 Million as ‘Rango’ Chameleon

The Johnny Depp animated comedy “Rango” opened as the No. 1 film in U.S. and Canadian theaters this weekend, generating $38 million in ticket sales for Viacom Inc. (VIA/B)’s Paramount and Nickelodeon divisions.

“The Adjustment Bureau,” starring Matt Damon, opened in second place with $20.9 million for Comcast Corp. (CMCSA)’s Universal Pictures, Hollywood.com Box Office said yesterday in a statement. Also in wide release this past weekend were “Take Me Home Tonight,” Relativity Media LLC’s coming-of-age comedy, and CBS Corp. (CBS)’s “Beastly,” featuring Vanessa Hudgens and Alex Pettyfer.

“Rango,” featuring Depp as a chameleon who tries to clean up the Wild West town of Dirt, is the third Paramount film to occupy the top weekend spot this year, following “No Strings Attached” and the remake of “True Grit” with Jeff Bridges. Paramount is No. 1 in U.S. box-office sales this year, with $285 million in revenue as of Feb. 27, according to Box Office Mojo.

“‘Rango’ didn’t blow the roof off, but it did well, considering the quirky nature of the movie,” said Brandon Gray, president of Box Office Mojo. “It’s an ugly-looking lizard in a Western setting. Considering that, movies like that don’t usually do as well as things from Pixar or Dreamworks.”

“Rango” was expected to take in about $36 million, the forecast of Gitesh Pandya, editor of the Box Office Guru website. The film was directed by Gore Verbinski, who also oversaw Walt Disney Co. (DIS)’s successful “Pirates of the Caribbean” series.

‘The Adjustment Bureau’

The picture cost $135 million to make, according to Box Office Mojo, and also features the voices of Isla Fisher, Ned Beatty and Alfred Molina.

In “The Adjustment Bureau,” Damon plays a politician, David Norris, who gets a glimpse of his future and decides to take another course, instead pursuing his love interest played by Emily Blunt. John Slattery, from TV’s “Mad Men,” is part of the team trying to put Norris’s life back on its intended course. The film is based on a short story by Philip K. Dick.

“Beastly,” a retelling of the “Beauty and the Beast” tale, took in $10.1 million in third place. Pettyfer, who is also in theaters in the movie “I Am Number Four,” plays a New York teen who is turned into a monster and must find true love to reverse the curse. Hudgens, known for her success in Disney’s “High School Musical,” co-stars as Pettyfer’s love interest and Mary-Kate Olsen is the witch who casts a spell on him.

‘Hall Pass’

“‘Beastly’ also had a pretty good opening,” Gray said. He said it had to compete with “I Am Number Four,” also a supernatural romance, and “that’s bound to cause confusion with moviegoers.”

The film, which had a production budget of $17 million, is the second this year from CBS Films, which also released “The Mechanic” on Jan. 28, according to Box Office Mojo.

Last weekend’s top film, the Time Warner Inc. (TWX) comedy “Hall Pass,” took in $9 million for fourth place in its second week in theaters. The film features Owen Wilson and Jason Sudeikis as buddies whose wives try to revive their marriages by giving the men a week of freedom to act like bachelors without consequences.

“Gnomeo & Juliet,” an animated film about romantic garden gnomes, fell to fifth place from second with sales of $6.9 million for Disney. The movie has taken in $83.7 million in four weeks of release, according to Hollywood.com. The 3-D film features the voices of James McAvoy, Emily Blunt and Maggie Smith.

‘Take Me Home Tonight’

“Take Me Home Tonight,” the weekend’s other new release, finished 11th in the rankings with $3.5 million in sales for distributor Relativity Media and producer Imagine Entertainment, the film and TV company led by Brian Grazer and Ron Howard.

Revenue for the top 12 films this weekend fell 34.6 percent percent to $121.4 million from the year-earlier period, according to Hollywood.com. Domestic box-office sales this year total $1.69 billion, down 20.5 percent. Attendance is off 21.7 percent.

The weekend was the second straight of declining sales compared with the year-ago period when “Alice in Wonderland” debuted, and had sales of $116.1 million.

“Alice” had an “exceptional” opening, Gray said, and this year the films are “weaker holdovers and far more modest releases.”

The amounts below are based on actual ticket sales for March 4 and March 5 and estimates for yesterday.

                       Rev.            Avg./   Pct.   Total
Movie                 (mln)  Theaters  Theater Chg.   (mln)  Wks
================================================================
1 RANGO                $38.0   3,917   $9,701   --    $38.0   1
2 ADJUSTMENT BUREAU     20.9   2,840    7,375   --     20.9   1
3 BEASTLY               10.1   1,952    5,182   --     10.1   1
4 HALL PASS              9.0   2,950    3,056   -33    27.0   2
5 GNOMEO AND JULIET      6.9   2,984    2,316   -48    83.7   4
6 UNKNOWN                6.6   2,913    2,273   -47    53.1   3
7 THE KING’S SPEECH      6.501 2,240    2,902   -11   123.8  15
8 JUST GO WITH IT        6.5   2,920    2,226   -38    88.2   4
9 I AM NUMBER FOUR       5.7   2,903    1,964   -48    46.4   3
10 JUSTIN BIEBER         4.3   2,254    1,919   -54    68.9   4
11 TAKE ME HOME TONIGHT  3.5   2,003    1,747   --      3.5   1
12 BIG MOMMAS            3.3   1,642    2,010   -57    33.3   3


Top 12 Films Grosses:

   This Week     Year Ago      Pct.
     (mln)         (mln)       Chg.
===================================
     $121.4        $185.9     -34.7


Year-to-date Revenue:

     2011          2010
      YTD           YTD        Pct.
     (mln)         (mln)       Chg.
===================================
   $1,692.4       $2,129.4    -20.5

Year-to-date Attendance:      -21.7%

To contact the reporters on this story: Rob Golum in Los Angeles at rgolum@bloomberg.net; Patricia Hurtado in New York at pathurtado@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Anthony Palazzo in Los Angeles at apalazzo@bloomberg.net

Bloomberg reserves the right to edit or remove comments but is under no obligation to do so, or to explain individual moderation decisions.

Please enable JavaScript to view the comments powered by Disqus.