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'Soul Surfer' slips in Easter weekend box office

By Staff and Bloomberg News

LAST UPDATED: 5:22 a.m. HST, Apr 25, 2011

"Soul Surfer," the movie based on the true story of Hawaii surfer Bethany Hamilton, slipped to seventh place in the Easter weekend box office.

The movie, filmed on Kauai,  pulled in $5.6 million in ticket sales in its third week of release.

Sony Corp.'s picture is based on the real-life story of Hamilton, who lost her arm in a shark attack in 2003 and returned to competitive surfing three months later.

"Soul Surfer generated $7.4 million last weekend and $11.1 million in ticket sales during its debut weekend.

The movie, which is being distributed by Sony Pictures' TriStar and marketed by the studio's faith-based division Affirm Films and Film District, was made for $18 million.

The animated comedy "Rio" was the top film in U.S. and Canadian theaters for a second week, taking in $26.8 million in ticket sales for News Corp.'s Twentieth Century Fox studio.

The Tyler Perry comedy "Madea's Big Happy Family" opened in second place with sales of $25.8 million for Lions Gate Entertainment Corp., researcher Box-Office said in an e-mailed statement.

The first-place finish for "Rio" is the fourth straight weekend in which a children's film has been Hollywood's top moneymaker. "Hop," featuring a bunny who must save the Easter holiday, was first in the two weeks before "Rio" opened.

"Family films like 'Rio' tend to do well over Easter weekend," said Gitesh Pandya, editor of Box Office Guru. "It was surprising that Tyler Perry's film didn't do better," he said. It may be "the Tyler Perry machine is slowing down."

"Rio," featuring the voices of Anne Hathaway and Jesse Eisenberg, has taken in $81.3 million since its debut. In the film, a domesticated macaw travels from Minnesota to Rio de Janeiro to find a mate.

"Madea's Big Happy Family" stars Perry, in drag, as the outspoken matron of a large Southern family. He also writes, directs and produces the films. "Madea Goes to Jail," the most successful of the Madea movies, took in $90.5 million in U.S. ticket sales, according to researcher Box Office Mojo.

"Water for Elephants" was third in its debut, with sales of $17.5 million for News Corp.'s Fox studio. The film features "Twilight" star Robert Pattinson as a veterinary student who falls in love with a circus performer played by Reese Witherspoon. Christoph Waltz plays her husband and is based on the novel by Sara Gruen.

"Hop" dropped to fourth from third with sales of $12.5 million. The film, combining animation and live action, was the first from Comcast Corp.'s Universal Pictures to lead the box office this year. It has taken in $100.5 million since its April 1 release, according to

The horror sequel "Scream 4" dropped to fifth from second with $7.2 million. In the movie from Weinstein Co.'s Dimension Films, heroine Sidney Prescott, played by Neve Campbell, returns to the town of Woodsboro, where she is pursued once again by serial killer Ghostface. The first three "Scream" movies generated $507 million in worldwide ticket sales, according to Box Office Mojo.

"African Cats," from Walt Disney Co.'s Disneynature division, opened in sixth place with sales of $6.4 million. The movie follows families of lions and cheetahs as the parents teach the cubs to survive. Samuel L. Jackson narrates.

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