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Box office report: 'Limitless' conquers weekend with $19 mil

Limitless Cooper

(John Baer)

Bradley Cooper proved he could open a movie all by himself, as Limitless won the weekend with $19 million, according to studio estimates. The $27 million action thriller, Cooper’s first true star vehicle, had been heavily promoted with commercials during the Super Bowl and some creative viral marketing, such as a YouTube clip in which a man seemingly hacks Times Square’s video screens. The PG-13 film, about a struggling writer whose life is radically upgraded after taking an experimental “smart pill,” earned a respectable “B+” grade from CinemaScore moviegoers.

In second was the Johnny Depp-starring Rango, which dropped only 32 percent for $15.3 million. The animated Western has lassoed $92.6 million in three weeks, and appears to be benefiting from positive word-of-mouth despite its puzzling “C+” CinemaScore rating. Third place went to the alien-invasion movie Battle: Los Angeles. After topping the box office last weekend, the PG-13 action flick nosedived 59 percent for $14.6 million.

In fourth, the Matthew McConaughey crime drama The Lincoln Lawyer debuted to $13.4 million. That’s below the openings of McConaughey’s recent romance pictures, such as Ghosts of Girlfriends Past, Fool’s Gold, and Failure to Launch, but it’s an improvement over the actor’s dramas like We Are Marshall and Two for the Money. The $40 million film particularly appealed to older moviegoers, with 85 percent of its audience being at least 25 years old. And with a solid “A-” score from CinemaScore graders, Lawyer should hold up well the next few weeks.

Also worth noting is that the movie marked the first time a studio partnered with the deal-of-the-day website Groupon. Last Wednesday and Thursday, Lionsgate allowed Groupon users to buy tickets to the film for only $6. About 190,000 tickets were purchased through the promotion, and 40,000 of those tickets were redeemed this weekend. (The tickets are valid throughout the film’s entire run). According to Lionsgate, 89 percent of the Groupon users who saw Lawyer this weekend said they wouldn’t have done so without the discount offer.

Finally, in fifth was the R-rated comedy Paul, about two comic-book geeks (Simon Pegg and Nick Frost) who discover an actual alien (voiced by Seth Rogen). The $40 million movie abducted $13.2 million and garnered a “B+” rating from CinemaScore moviegoers. In particular, those under the age of 18 loved it, giving the film an “A” grade. While Paul’s opening won’t blow anybody’s mind, it is an improvement over Pegg and Frost’s last two collaborations. Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz debuted to $3.3 million and $5.8 million, respectively, although both films opened at far fewer locations than Paul.

In limited release, the wrestling drama Win Win, starring Paul Giamatti and Amy Ryan, grappled $154,000 from five theaters. And the romantic adaptation Jane Eyre expanded to 26 locations and collected $478,000. Check back next week as Zack Snyder’s fantasy action film Sucker Punch and the comedy sequel you’ve all been waiting for, Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules, hit theaters.

1. Limitless – $19.0 mil
2. Rango – $15.3 mil
3. Battle: Los Angeles – $14.6 mil
4. The Lincoln Lawyer – $13.4 mil
5. Paul – $13.2 mil

Originally posted March 20 2011 — 3:39 PM EDT

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