March 21, 2010 / 9:13 PM / 8 years ago

"Alice" stays atop box offices for third week

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Disney 3-D adventure “Alice in Wonderland” retained the top spot at North American box offices for a third straight week, collecting $34.5 million and beating three new films including romantic comedy “The Bounty Hunter.”

<p>Cast member Johnny Depp stands on stage during a panel discussion for the movie "Alice in Wonderland" during the 40th annual Comic Con Convention in San Diego July 23, 2009. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni</p>

“Diary of a Wimpy Kid,” based on the first book in the popular series by Jeff Kinney, claimed the No. 2 spot with $21.8 million as children and parents turned out in solid numbers and pushed adult-oriented “Bounty Hunter” to third with $21 million, according to studio estimates on Sunday.

Chris Aronson, senior vice president of domestic distribution for “Wimpy Kid” studio 20th Century Fox, said audiences were roughly evenly split between males and females and more than 40 percent were over age 25, hinting that the books’ adult fans turned out in theaters, too.

“It’s clearly a family movie, but the audience has been broader than that,” he said. “I think we just found out how deep the fan base is and how dear this (series) is,” he said.

The books, four so far with a fifth due on bookshelves this year, trace the life of U.S. middle-school student Gregory Heffley and the funny things that happen to him in his daily routine of classes, chores, friends, rivals and family.

“Bounty Hunter” touted major starpower with Gerard Butler portraying a career criminal chaser whose new target is his ex-wife, portrayed by Jennifer Aniston, and it was widely promoted heading into the weekend.

Both “Wimpy Kid” and “Bounty Hunter” opened in just under 3,100 theaters, with the former earning about $7,100 per location and the latter at just over $6,800 per venue.

<p>Actor Johnny Depp attends an event to promote the movie "Alice in Wonderland" in Tokyo, March 22, 2010. REUTERS/Toru Hanai</p>

By contrast, Disney’s “Alice” was playing in around 3,700 locations and pulled in roughly $9,300 per theater, pushing its total domestic box office in three weeks to over $265 million.

The Disney studio is a unit of Walt Disney Co, and Fox is a division of News Corp. “Bounty Hunter” was released by Columbia Pictures, a part of Sony Corp.

The weekend’s other new movie, science-fiction adventure “Repo Men” was a distant fourth with $6.2 million in another disappointing opening for Universal Pictures, which last week debuted Iraq war film “Green Zone” at No. 2 behind “Alice.”

“Green Zone,” starring Matt Damon, fell to No. 6 this weekend with ticket sales just under $6 million, giving the big-budget action flick a total of $24.7 million. Universal is a unit of the NBC Universal media wing of General Electric Co.

It was narrowly beat to the No. 5 spot by Paramount Pictures’ comedy “She’s Out of My League,” which claimed just over $6 million. Paramount is a unit of Viacom Inc.

Elsewhere, director Roman Polanski’s thriller “The Ghost Writer” continues to play well in a limited release in major cities, earning about $2 million over the weekend, or $14,000 per theater in only 145 locations.

Widely promoted “The Runaways,” starring Kristen Stewart and Dakota Fanning in the tale of an all-girl band, mustered $3,300 in 244 theaters for an unspectacular total of $804,000.

“The Runaways” was released by privately held Apparition Films and “Ghost Writer” by closely held Summit Entertainment.

Reporting by Bob Tourtellotte; Editing by Cynthia Osterman

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