LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - "Megamind" led the North American box office to its best weekend in more than three months on Sunday, but the $47.7 million opening for the DreamWorks Animation SKG Inc release fell a little short of industry forecasts.
Observers had predicted the 3D cartoon about a hapless supervillain would earn more than $50 million during its first three days of release across the United States and Canada. But the studio's March release "How to Train a Dragon" also underperformed initially before becoming a worldwide smash.
Also new were the comedy "Due Date" at No. 2 with $33.5 million, and the drama "For Colored Girls" at No. 3 with $20.1 million, both in line with expectations.
The three newcomers accounted for most of the $146 million total for the top 12 movies, according to the box office division of Hollywood.com. It marks the highest tally since July 23-25, when reigning champion "Inception" drove sales to $155 million.
"Megamind" revolves around a hapless criminal voiced by Will Ferrell, and is not to be confused with the recent hit cartoon "Despicable Me," which revolved around a hapless criminal voiced by Steve Carell.
The film's early international total, from No. 1 openings in Russia, Ukraine, Singapore, Malaysia and the Philippines, stands at $18.6 million. The studio will release the film to tie in with school holidays in individual markets, although "Despicable Me" is still playing strongly internationally.
DreamWorks Animation said "Megamind" performed to its expectations and it was confident that the film would hold up well through the holidays. It noted that the film received a bullish A-minus score in exit polls conducted by tracking firm Cinemascore. Costs were in line with recent releases: $130 million for production, and $160 million for global marketing.
By way of comparison, "How To Train Your Dragon," the studio's previous non-sequel, opened to $44 million, and the studio's share price fell 8 percent the following Monday. But the movie displayed strong staying power, ending up with $218 million domestically and $276 million internationally.
Still, DreamWorks Animation's current stock price -- $35.42 as of Friday -- is off 17 percent since "Dragon" opened. Archrival Walt Disney Co is up about 5 percent over the same period.
"Due Date" stars Robert Downey Jr and Zach Galifianakis as an odd couple forced to endure each other on a road trip, and is not to be confused with "Planes, Trains and Automobiles," the 1987 comedy starring Steve Martin and John Candy. The new film was directed by Todd Phillips who, along with Galifianakis, is currently shooting a sequel to their hit comedy "The Hangover."
Warner Bros. said the film set a new opening record for an R-rated comedy in November, surpassing the $26.5 million debut for "Borat" in 2006.
"For Colored Girls" marks prolific filmmaker Tyler Perry's latest exploration of the life of black women, but the Lionsgate release is definitely not to be confused with the slapstick comedies starring his "Madea" alter-ego. "Girls," an adaptation of Ntozake Shange's play about a group of women dealing with abuse issues, played to a slightly older female crowd than is usual for Perry films, Lionsgate said.
The top-five was rounded out by the Summit Entertainment crime drama "Red," starring Bruce Willis, holding steady at No. 4 with $8.9 million in its fourth week; and last weekend's champion, the Lionsgate horror "Saw 3D," which slid to No. 5 with $8.2 million. Their respective totals rose to $71.9 million and $38.8 million.
"Megamind" was released by Viacom Inc's Paramount Pictures under a distribution deal with DreamWorks Animation. Warner Bros. is a unit of Time Warner Inc. Lionsgate is a unit of Lions Gate Entertainment Corp. Summit Entertainment is privately held.
Reporting by Dean Goodman; Editing Eric Beech