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Battle: Los Angeles Fights to the Top of the Heap

The first big event movie of the year had the second highest opening of 2011. Battle: Los Angeles, an alien invasion extravaganza starring Aaron Eckhart (The Dark Knight) and Michelle Rodriguez (Avatar) opened with $36 million on the reserve. Many alien invasion epics have faired better than Sony’s effort including Independence Day and War of the Worlds. However, those were tentpoles of a different era ad caliber. Director Jonathan Liebesman was able to hold down a place among respectable but financially middling efforts Cloverfield and District 9. With a modest $70 million budget, Battle: Los Angeles is a hit, and may spark a hinted-at sequel.

Red Riding Hood, Catherine Hardwicke’s follow up to the first of the Twilight series, was good enough for third. The updated spin on the fairytale relied upon its fair lead and romantic premise to sell $14.1 million in tickets to young American girls. The generic hot-boy-turned-werewolf story was bested by an animated lizard. Rango bled a bit, but managed to add $23 million in green to its tally in weekend number two. The Adjustment Bureau followed on its heels with $11.4 million and fourth place.

Mars Needs Moms was the most surprising of the new debuts. The animated kids movie from Buena Vista cost $150 million to create thanks to motion capture technology, but with a bland premise and dated appearance the little flick that couldn’t earned $6.9 million and fifth place. It’s a virtual disgrace for such a wide release. Hopefully by next week everyone will have forgotten the shame.

The Top Ten

1.  Battle: Los Angeles – $36.0M (weekend)…$36.0M (gross)
2.  Rango – $23.0M…$68.6M
3.  Red Riding Hood – $14.1M…$14.1M
4.  The Adjustment Bureau – $11.4M…$38.4M
5.  Mars Needs Moms – $6.9M…$6.8M
6.  Hall Pass – $5.1M…$34.9M
7.  Beastly – $5.0M …$16.9M
8.  Just Go With It – $4.0M…$93.9M
9.  The King’s Speech – $3.6M…$129.0M
10. Gnomeo and Juliet – $3.5M …$89.0M

Out next Friday includes a dirty comedy featuring Seth Rogen, a ridiculous-sounding thriller starring Bradley Cooper, and a book adaptation featuring Matthew McConaughey. Up first is Limitless releasing in 2,400 locations. The story follows the exploits of a writer who is given a pill that allows him to access 100% of his brain. He proceeds to get cultured and filthy rich. Oh, and he is being run down by thugs who want his powers under their control.

The Lincoln Lawyer joins Matthew McConaughey’s smoldering good looks with Ryan Phillipe’s cold hard stare. This book adapatation follows an unscrupulous lawyer who bags a big money client out to beat a rape and attempted murder case. At some point the lawyer develops a conscience and has to defend himself against his serial-killing defendant. This entry opens at 2,400 theaters.

Alas, Seth Rogen is on the move again, this time the man-child stoner will voice the titular alien in Paul. Joined by partners Simon Pegg and Nick Frost, this movie has a chance to do some good low-budget green. An R-rated sci-fi comedy featuring the comedic trio will be appealing with males and youngsters who can sneak in. Look for it in one of 2,700 cinemas nationwide.

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