LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Animated family movie "Rango" topped North American box offices with $38 million over the weekend, according to studio estimates on Sunday, which was at the low-end of expectations as moviegoing remained sluggish at the start of 2011.
"Rango," which features Johnny Depp as the voice of a colorful chameleon trying to bring law and order to a town in the old Wild West, had been estimated to bring in anywhere from $38 million to $42 million by distributor Paramount Pictures.
The movie added another $16 million from international territories, putting it's worldwide debut ticket sales at a total $54 million.
Elsewhere, Matt Damon thriller "The Adjustment Bureau," which like "Rango" was in its debut weekend in theaters, took in $21 million to land in the No. 2 spot in North America. It also opened in several overseas markets where it added another $10.5 million to its weekend haul.
Another newcomer "Beastly," which is a modern, retelling of the classic tale "Beauty and the Beast," took hold of No. 3 with $10.1 million.
Overall, total U.S. and Canadian ticket sales were off a whopping 31 percent from the same weekend one year ago, according to tracker Hollywood.com Box Office.
Back then, the 3D version of Disney's "Alice in Wonderland" was proving to be a smash hit and, similarly, "Shutter Island" and "Avatar" were still generating solid ticket sales.
But the start of 2011 has failed to generate a massive hit, and year-to-date ticket sales are down just over 20 percent while the number of people attending theaters is down about 22 percent, Hollywood.com Box Office reported.
In other highlights from the past weekend, royals drama "The King's Speech" followed its victories at the Oscars, where it was named best film, by moving up one notch from the No. 8 spot to No. 7 with just over $6.5 million in ticket sales.
Comedy "Hall Pass" and animated movie "Gnomeo & Juliet," which had traded the No. 1 and No. 2 spots last weekend, fell out of the top 3 positions. "Hall Pass" dropped to No. 4 with $9 million, while "Gnomeo" landed at No. 5 with $6.9 million.
"Rango" was distributed by Paramount Pictures, a unit of Viacom Inc. "Adjustment Bureau" was released by Universal Pictures, which is controlled by Comcast Corp, and "Beastly" was released by the CBS Films division of CBS Corp.
"The King's Speech" was released by privately held The Weinstein Co. "Hall Pass" by Time Warner Inc.'s Warner Bros unit and "Gnomeo" by the film studio division of The Walt Disney Co.
Reporting by Bob Tourtellotte; Editing by Jackie Frank