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SUNDAY AM: Even with all those half-price kiddie tickets, Fox’s Horton Hears A Who? trampled the competition to finish No. 1 with a huge $45.1 million haul. According to Media By Numbers, the Dr. Seuss toon posted the best opening weekend so far this year (exceeding the $40 mil from Paramount’s Cloverfield in Monday-through-Friday take). All the Hollywood studios hope Horton has broke the current disappointing cycle ”where moviegoing has not been as big as any of us in the business would like,” one exec told me. <horton-voices.jpgThe G-rated family fare garnered great reviews and lived up to its expectations for a mammoth weekend; it made $13.2 mil from 3,954 theaters on Friday, a huge $18.5 mil thanks to heavily attended kiddie matinees Saturday, and an expected $13.3 mil Sunday. Horton‘s box office was helped by Fox’s savvy synergy when the two big name actors voicing the characters got a big plug on Wednesday night’s American Idol (where Jim Carrey looked an ass in an elephant costume while Steve Carell greeted contestants at the film’s premiere). The toon has a clear berth for the next couple of weeks, too. “Especially given no family competition over Easter, we will play to a big multiple,” a Fox exec told me.

never.jpgIn the 2nd spot, Warner’s holdover 10,000 BC dropped an expected 54% domestically to earn $16.4 mil for the weekend and a new cume of $61.2 mil. This weekend’s Never Back Down was the first developed, financed, produced and distributed film from Summit Entertainment in its new incarnation. The studio timed the release to capitalize on the upcoming Spring Break period and it paid off: the street fighting pic met expectations and made $8.6 million from 2,729 venues during its opening weekend. But it was also helped by its PG-13 rating and an ad campaign ”selling the Abercrombie & Fitch of it all,” one rival studio exec wisecracked. According to exit polling, 59% of the audience was male vs. 41% female, 60% were under 21 years old, 88% were fans of action movies; 78% were fans of martial arts, and 72% were fans of mixed martial arts fighting. Younger audience members responded the most positively, with males under 21 leading the way for well above average. Since the negative cost of the movie was only $20 mil, and the film has been sold off on the foreign side, the domestic number is sweet.

The next three spots were holdovers — #4 was Disney’s College Road Trip with $7.8M its 2nd weekend out, #5 Sony’s Vantage Point with $5.4M starting its 4th week, and #6 Lionsgate’s The Bank Job $4.9M and down only 17% from its opening last weekend.

doomsday15.jpgBut No. 7 from Universal’s Rogue Pictures, the no-holds-barred hardcore action Doomsday, flopped. Even as late as Friday, the studio’s execs had no clue how it would do. ”The nature of these genre movies is why you don’t spend a lot to make them and why you don’t spend a lot to market them. You’re looking to have a couple of them break out each year, but you never know which ones they’re going to be.” The pic only cost $19 million to make, but it did only half as well as the studio had hoped, taking in $4.7 mil from 1,936 dates. Looks like those video game couch potatoes didn’t bother to show up in theaters.

The rest of the Top 10 were holdovers. Here’s the chart:

  1. 1. Horton Hears A Who!/Fox  $13.2M Fri, $18.5M Sat, $13.3M Sun (cume $45.1M)
  2. 2. 10,000 BC/Warner  $4.9M Fri, $7.0M Sat, $5.0M Sun ($61.2M)
  3. 3. Never Back Down/Summit  $3.3M Fri, $3.2M Sat, $2.1M Sun ($8.6M)
  4. 4. College Road Trip/Disney  $2.1M Fri, $3.5M Sat, $2.2M Sun ($24.2M)
  5. 5. Vantage Point/Sony  $1.6M Fri, $2.4M Sat, $1.4M Sun ($59.2M)
  6. 6. The Bank Job/Lionsgate  $1.4M Fri, $2.1M Sat, $1.4M Sun ($13.1M)
  7. 7. Doomsday/Universal  $1.7M Fri, $1.8M Sat, $1.2M Sun ($4.7M)
  8. 8. Semi-Pro/New Line $945K Fri, $1.2M Sat, $835K Sun ($29.7M)
  9. 9. The Other Boleyn Girl/Sony  $900K Fri, $1.2M Sat, $800K Sun ($19.1M)
  10. 10. Spiderwick Chronicles/Paramount  $565K Fri, $1.0M Sat, $650K Sun ($65.4M)


SATURDAY AM: This weekend’s newcomers: Fox’s Horton Hears A Who! $13.3 million from 3,954 theaters for Friday, Summit’s Never Back Down $3.3 million from 2,729 venues, Universal’s Doomsday $1.6 million from 1,936 dates.
FRIDAY PM: UPDATE: ‘Horton’ $12M-$13M For Friday
FRIDAY: Weekend Prediction: Huge ‘Horton Who!’

For more estimates listed by title, see box office results here...

Editor-in-Chief Nikki Finke - tip her here.