‘Limitless’ Debuts This Week as Top Film on Sales of $19 Million

“Limitless,” a thriller from Relativity Media LLC about a mind-expanding drug, opened in first place in U.S. and Canadian theaters with sales of $19 million.

“Rango,” the Johnny Depp animated comedy, held at second place with $15.3 million in sales for Viacom Inc. (VIA/B)’s Paramount and Nickelodeon divisions, researcher Hollywood.com Box-Office said today in an e-mailed statement.

Last week’s top film, “Battle: Los Angeles,” Sony Corp. (6758)’s special-effects thriller about an alien invasion, fell to third place on ticket sales of $14.6 million, while “The Lincoln Lawyer,” from Lions Gate Entertainment Corp. (LGF), debuted in fourth place with $13.4 million.

Revenue for the top 12 films this weekend fell 8.7 percent to $104.5 million from a year earlier, according to Hollywood.com, as new films failed to match the appeal of “Alice in Wonderland” and “Diary of a Wimpy Kid,” the box- office leaders a year earlier. Domestic box-office sales this year have fallen 20 percent to $2.02 billion. Televised college basketball playoffs may have lured potential fans away from cinemas as well. Attendance is down 21 percent.

“Limitless” stars Bradley Cooper as an aspiring author who takes an experimental drug that enables people to use 100 percent of their minds. Robert De Niro co-stars as a business mogul who wants to use the writer’s new intellect to increase his fortune.

“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 and has ticket sales of $92.6 million since its release three weeks ago.

‘Battle’ Slides

“Battle: Los Angeles” features Aaron Eckhart as a Marine who leads a platoon trying to save the survivors of an alien attack. Michelle Rodriguez and Bridget Moynahan co-star in the film, which was expected to take in about $18 million this weekend, 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. Portions were filmed in Louisiana, which has offered subsidies to producers for almost 20 years.

“Battle: Los Angeles” has taken in $60.6 million in two weeks of release, according to Hollywood.com.

“The Lincoln Lawyer” stars Matthew McConaughey as a lawyer who works out of a black Lincoln sedan. His life takes a dangerous turn after he is hired to defend a Beverly Hills man accused of rape.

Discounted Tickets

Lions Gate sold about 190,000 discounted tickets to the film through the e-mail service Groupon Inc., the Los Angeles Times reported on March 18. Users paid $6, with the studio making up the difference in the usual price charged by theaters, the newspaper said.

The science-fiction comedy “Paul,” also new for the weekend, had sales of $13.2 million for Comcast Corp. (CMCSA)’s Universal Pictures to take fifth place. In the film, an alien named Paul escapes from a U.S. military base. Simon Pegg and Nick Frost play two slackers who try to return him to his space ship. Seth Rogen provides the voice for the computer-generated Paul.

Among other returning films, “Red Riding Hood,” from Time Warner Inc. (TWX), dropped to sixth place from third with $7.3 million in sales. The hungry wolf is replaced with a werewolf in this retelling of the children’s classic, which features Amanda Seyfried in the title role.

There’s also a forbidden love story with Valerie, played by Seyfried, planning to run off with Peter, played by Shiloh Fernandez. Gary Oldman is 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.

To contact the reporter on this story: Michael White in Los Angeles at mwhite8@bloomberg.net

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

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