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LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - "Rio" led the Easter box office in North America for a second weekend, and remained the top choice internationally for a third round as the worldwide haul for the Brazilian bird cartoon flew toward $300 million.
According to studio estimates issued on Sunday, "Rio" sold an estimated $26.8 million worth of tickets across the United States and Canada during the three days beginning April 22. After 10 days, the film has earned $81.3 million.
It also earned $44.2 million from 67 foreign markets, taking its overseas total to $204.7 million. The worldwide total stands at $286 million.
"Rio," which cost about $90 million to make, revolves around Blu, a rare blue macaw (voiced by Jesse Eisenberg), who returns home to Brazil after a coddled existence as a smuggled pet in the United States. It was released by 20th Century Fox, a unit of News Corp.
"Madea's Big Happy Family," the latest outing from prolific actor/writer/director Tyler Perry, opened at No. 2 in North America with $25.8 million.
The debut was in line with expectations but fell short of Perry's previous comedies about the brassy black woman. "Madea Goes to Jail" opened to $41 million in 2009, and "Madea's Family Reunion" to $30 million in 2006.
As usual, the Lionsgate release played almost exclusively to older black women and was a major event in such cities as Chicago, Atlanta, Baltimore and Washington, D.C. Lionsgate is a unit of Lions Gate Entertainment Corp.
Fox's "Water for Elephants," a romantic drama starring Reese Witherspoon and "Twilight" hunk Robert Pattinson, came in at No. 3 with $17.5 million, also in line with expectations. Similarly, its appeal was to female fans of the underlying best-selling book by Sara Gruen.
Witherspoon, fresh from the costly Christmas flop "How Do You Know," stars as Depression-era circus performer who does stunts on an elephant. "Twilight" hunk Pattinson plays her forbidden lover. Top critics mostly ridiculed the film.
Also new, at No. 6, was the Walt Disney nature documentary "African Cats," with a respectable $6.4 million.
The Easter Bunny live-action/animated hybrid "Hop" slipped one place to No. 4 with $12.5 million in its fourth weekend; its total rose to $100.5 million. "Hop" was released by Universal Pictures, a unit of Comcast Corp-controlled NBC Universal.
The horror sequel "Scream 4" tumbled three to No. 5 with $7.2 million in its second weekend; the 10-day tally rose to $31.2 million -- still short of the opening-weekend tallies of either "Scream 3" or "Scream 2." The series was released by Dimension Films, a unit of the closely held Weinstein Co.
Reporting by Dean Goodman; Editing by Jackie Frank and Deborah Charles