‘Battle: Los Angeles’ Opens as Top Weekend Film for Sony

“Battle: Los Angeles,” Sony Corp. (6758)’s special-effects thriller about an alien invasion of the second most-populous U.S. city, generated $36 million in weekend ticket sales to lead the domestic box office.

Last weekend’s No. 1 film, the Johnny Depp animated comedy “Rango,” fell to second place with $23 million in ticket sales for Viacom Inc. (VIA/B)’s Paramount and Nickelodeon divisions.

“Rango” features Depp as a chameleon who tries to clean up the Wild West town of Dirt. It marks another collaboration of the actor and director Gore Verbinski, who oversaw Depp in Disney’s successful “Pirates of the Caribbean” series.

“‘Battle: Los Angeles’ felt like a summer movie, and audiences responded,” said Paul Dergarabedian, the president of Hollywood.com’s box-office division. “We need summer to get us out of this box-office malaise. The overall box office did so- so, but aliens had a great weekend. They had a great marketing campaign and it paid off.”

“Red Riding Hood,” a Time Warner Inc. (TWX) film with Amanda Seyfried in the title role, opened in third place with $14.1 million in U.S. and Canadian sales, Hollywood.com Box-Office said today in an e-mailed statement. “Mars Needs Moms,” a 3-D animated feature by Walt Disney Co. (DIS), took in $6.8 million for fifth behind ‘The Adjustment Bureau.”

Several of the movies offer filmgoers a something-for- everyone weekend: “Battle: Los Angeles” for boys and young men, “Red Riding Hood” for teen girls and women, and the animated “Rango” and “Mars” for kids.

‘Word of Mouth’

“‘Rango’ has had great word of mouth, and that’s really worked,” Dergarabedian said. “Male audiences came out for ‘Battle: Los Angeles’ and families came out for ‘Rango’.”

In “Battle: Los Angeles,” Aaron Eckhart plays a decorated Marine leading a platoon trying to save the survivors of an alien attack. Portions of the movie were filmed in Louisiana, which has offered subsidies to producers for almost 20 years.

Michelle Rodriguez and Bridget Moynahan co-star in the film, which was expected to take in about $27 million, the estimate of Gitesh Pandya, the editor of Box Office Guru. Sony’s Columbia Pictures spent an estimated $100 million making the movie, according to the Internet Movie Database.

“Rango” has taken in $68.7 million in two weeks of release, Hollywood.com said.

Werewolf

Warner Bros.’ retelling of the “Red Riding Hood” tale replaces the hungry wolf with a werewolf and adds a forbidden love story with Valerie, played by Seyfried, planning to run off with Peter, played by Shiloh Fernandez. Gary Oldman plays Father Solomon, a werewolf hunter.

“Red Riding Hood” was directed by Catherine Hardwicke, whose credits include the first movie in the “Twilight” vampire-romance series. The film was expected to generate about $22 million, according to Pandya.

“Mars Needs Moms” features the voice of Seth Green as Milo, whose mother played by Joan Cusack is kidnapped by Martians. Milo undertakes a rescue and gains a new appreciation for his mother along the way. The film was expected to take in $17 million, Pandya said on his website.

“The Adjustment Bureau,” starring Matt Damon, fell to fourth place from second with $11.5 million in sales for Comcast Corp. (CMCSA)’s Universal Pictures.

Damon plays a politician, David Norris, who glimpses his future and takes another route, pursuing a love interest played by Emily Blunt. John Slattery, from television’s “Mad Men,” is part of the team trying to put Norris’s life back on its intended course. The film is based on Philip K. Dick’s short story.

‘Beastly’

“Beastly,” CBS Corp. (CBS)’s retelling of the “Beauty and the Beast” tale, fell to seventh place from third with $5.1 million.

Alex Pettyfer, 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. Vanessa Hudgens, known for her role 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.

Revenue for the top 12 films this weekend fell 12.8 percent to $118.4 million from a year earlier, according to Hollywood.com. Domestic box-office sales this year have declined 20.3 percent to $1.85 billion. Attendance is off 21.5 percent.

The amounts below are based on actual ticket sales for March 11-12 and estimates for today.

                       Rev.            Avg./   Pct.   Total
Movie                 (mln)  Theaters  Theater Chg.   (mln)  Wks
================================================================
1 BATTLE: LOS ANGELES  $36.0   3,417  $10,536   --    $36.0   1
2 RANGO                 23.1   3,923    5,876   -39    68.7   2
3 RED RIDING HOOD       14.1   3,030    4,665   --     14.1   1
4 THE ADJUSTMENT BUREAU 11.5   2,847    4,025   -46    38.5   2
5 MARS NEEDS MOMS        6.8   3,117    2,182   --      6.8   1
6 HALL PASS              5.11  2,555    1,998   -42    34.9   3
7 BEASTLY                5.1   1,959    2,598   -48    16.9   2
8 JUST GO WITH IT        4.0   2,398    1,668   -38    93.9   5
9 THE KING’S SPEECH      3.6   1,768    2,050   -42   129.1  16
10 GNOMEO AND JULIET     3.5   2,585    1,372   -51    89.0   5
11 UNKNOWN               3.4   2,303    1,465   -48    58.4   4
12 I AM NUMBER FOUR      2.2   2,005    1,103   -62    50.4   4


Top 12 Films Grosses:
   This Week     Year Ago      Pct.
     (mln)         (mln)       Chg.
===================================
     $118.4        $135.7     -12.8


Year-to-date Revenue:

     2011          2010
      YTD           YTD        Pct.
     (mln)         (mln)       Chg.
===================================
   $1,854.6      $2,326.3     -20.3


Year-to-date Attendance:      -21.5%

To contact the reporters on this story: Rob Golum in Los Angeles at rgolum@bloomberg.net; Inyoung Hwang in New York at ihwang7@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Anthony Palazzo at apalazzo@bloomberg.net; Theo Mullen at tmullen11@bloomberg.net

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