Here’s your 3-day box office returns (new releases bolded):

1. The Croods – $ 44.7 million

2. Olympus Has Fallen – $ 30.5 million

3. Oz: The Great & Powerful – $ 22.0 million

4. The Call – $ 8.7 million

5. Admission – $ 6.4 million

6. Spring Breakers – $ 5.0 million

7. The Incredible Burt Wonderstone - $ 4.2 million

8. Jack the Giant Slayer – $ 2.9 million

9. Identity Thief – $ 2.5 million

10 . Snitch – $ 1.9 million

The Big Stories

Never underestimate the inner meatball of moviegoers. They don’t really care that they ignored most of the recent Gerard Butler vehicles, but put him in a movie where that dang white house is under siege and all of a sudden he’s financially viable again. Let us at least be happy it wasn’t Statham, right? On the other side of Olympus Has Fallen, Nicolas Cage had himself a #1 movie again — his first since 2010′s Kick-Ass. Granted, it was as an animated character but let’s try to look at the positives at the box office for a change. If we can.

March + Animation = Money

thecroods mv 5 Box Office Report: The Croods Rules, Plus: Can Gerard Butler Defeat Those Spring Breakers?

Movie studios have a pretty surefire formula when it comes to piling up the grosses in March. Spring break or not, families are the way to a healthy bottom line this month. Five of the ten all-time March openers are animated titles, not to mention the practically animated Alice in Wonderland and Oz: The Great & Powerful. The others are last year’s all-time champion The Hunger Games and two Zack Snyder adaptations (300 & Watchmen). Animation speaks for itself though.

March’s biggest animated movies:

Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax ($ 70.2 million), Ice Age: The Meltdown ($ 68.0), Monsters vs. Aliens ($ 59.3), Ice Age ($ 46.3), Dr. Seuss’ Horton Hears a Who! ($ 45.0), The Croods ($ 44.7), How to Train Your Dragon ($ 43.7), Rango ($ 38.0), Robots ($ 36.0), Meet the Robinsons ($ 25.1)

Only two animated films since 2005 have failed to open with at least $ 25 million, those being TMNT ($ 24.2) and the disastrous Mars Needs Moms, which didn’t even gross that in its domestic run. The Croods, meanwhile, just missed breaking into the top ten March openers. With a $ 135 million pricetag, The Croods is going to need some help internationally – roughly to the tune of another $ 200 million – just to approach breaking even. Dreamworks Animation is coming off a large write-off (and multiple firings) over the disappointment of last holiday’s Rise of the Guardians. Only three of the other nine animated March openers reached that tally outside of the U.S.

A Butler Month Too?

Gerard Butler is attached to two of the big March releases already mentioned here: 300 & How To Train Your Dragon happen to be the best opener’s of the actor’s career as well. Olympus Has Fallen now settles comfortably into the #3 spot on his resume. The Die Hard ripoff and its grossly-familiar 9/11 imagery is actually more Red Dawn than its most recent remake, which was so worried about international grosses it changed the nationality of its villains. The North Korean leadership purports to be lovers of cinema. Let’s see how much they love this one. 

Spring Break Forever!

spring breakers main Box Office Report: The Croods Rules, Plus: Can Gerard Butler Defeat Those Spring Breakers?

Reading the buzz correctly, A24 expanded their expansion of Harmony Korine’s from 600 to over 1100 theaters and it paid off. $ 5 million might not be the sexiest number compared to the top three earners this weekend, but Spring Breakers has no need to worry (as they do) about turning a profit. It’s already there. While all the kids are trying to rob and steal their way to party town, those trying to get into college are not doing so well. Olympus really is falling isn’t it?

Focus’ Admission is that disappointment. The $ 13 million-budgeted film with Tina Fey & Paul Rudd did not need a lot to turn a profit, but a $ 6.4 million opening was still a bit discouraging given the talent involved. It was the weakest-reviewed of all the wide releases this week (44% at Rotten Tomatoes vs. Olympus‘ 50%). Then again, Focus’ history only contains six films to open at more than $ 10 million. Three of those were animated (Coraline, Paranorman, 9) and two had a Clooney factor (Burn After Reading, The American). Baby Mama ($ 17.4 million) and Date Night ($ 25.2 million) showed that Fey’s presence carried interest beyond 30 Rock, but for all the likability that surrounds Paul Rudd anytime his name comes up, people continue not to show up for his movies. This is 40 ultimately did OK business, but Rudd has not had a film open to $ 12 million since 2010′s Dinner for Schmucks.

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