‘Rio’ soars to year’s best film debut

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Audiences flocked to theaters to see tropical bird comedy "Rio," knocking fellow kid-flick "Hop" off its perch to score the best debut weekend of the year, industry data showed Sunday.

The 3-D cartoon, about pet macaw Blu — voiced by "Social Network" star Jesse Eisenberg — who bolts from chilly climes to the beaches of Rio de Janeiro with the bird of his dreams, raked in a cool $40 million in the Friday-to-Sunday period, according to box office tracker Exhibitor Relations.

The film scared off the debut of "Scream 4," the latest in director Wes Craven’s irony-drenched horror-comedy franchise, which took the second spot with $19.3 million.

Easter romp "Hop," the real-action-animation hybrid about the wayward son of the Easter Bunny and which had spent two weeks at the top, earned another $11.2 million at the weekend for a domestic total of $82.6 million.

The weekend estimates showed "Soul Surfer," starring AnnaSophia Robb as a churchgoing teenage surfer who returns to the ocean after losing an arm in a shark attack, hanging ten in fourth spot with $7.4 million.

"Hanna," a thriller about a teenage assassin raised in the wilds of North Finland, and which debuted last week in second spot, slipped three place to fifth, where it earned $7.3 million.

"Arthur," the Russell Brand-starring remake of the 1981 Oscar-winning hit about an irresponsible but lovable billionaire, earned $6.9 million in sixth place.

Horror flick "Insidious," in which a family finds itself living in a haunted house, picked up $6.8 million for seventh place. Made for a paltry $1.5 million, the film has pulled in an impressive total of $36 million over three weeks.

Jake Gyllenhaal’s critically acclaimed sci-fi thriller "Source Code," about a government experiment to find the bomber of a commuter train, took eighth spot, with $6.3 million.

Film icon Robert Redford’s latest film "The Conspirator," a historical drama about the men behind Abraham Lincoln’s assassination, came in at just ninth place, in limited release with $3.9 million, although its average sales per theater were among the highest of the weekend.

Rounding out the top 10 was "Your Highness," a knights-and-princess adventure starring Danny McBride, James Franco and Natalie Portman, whose week-to-week sales plunged 58 percent, to just under $3.9 million.

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