how_to_train_your_dragon_ver3SATURDAY PM/SUNDAY AM: Once again, what a cliffhanger to see which pic winds up No. 1 at the domestic box office. Sunday will decide it. Two new films, Kick-Ass and Death At A Funeral, opened with high pre-release expectations, and ultimately post-release disappointment. “So far, not what anybody hoped,” one studio exec tells me. That allowed the oldie but goodie kid’s 3d pic How To Train Your Dragon to slip into No. 1.  With only $250,000 between it and Kick-Ass, the order could change when actuals come in Monday. Here’s the Top 10):

1. Train Your Dragon 3D DWA/Par) Week 4 [3,825 Theaters]
Friday $4.3M, Saturday $9.2M, Weekend $20M, Cume $158.6M

At the start of Week 4, this DreamWorks Animation toon distributed by Paramount suddenly and surprisingly came from out of the pack to maybe grab #1. Those higher 3D ticket prices (exorbitantly, $18 at IMAX) may do the trick. Even though its opening was a disappointment, there’s a reason reviewers — and now parents and kids — love it still. Tonight it’s on top but that could change by Sunday’s photo finish.

2. Kick-Ass (Lionsgate) NEW [3,065 Theaters]
Friday $7.5M, Saturday $7.2M, Weekend $19.7M

kick-ass_posterSo far, this potty-mouthed stupor-hero comedy based on the comic book may not even break $20M by Sunday’s end. Whereas Hollywood had been expecting $30+M. Ouch! “Kick-Ass never took hold the way many of us thought it would,” one rival studio exec tells me. Maybe because an R-rated kids in spandex pic confused the marketplace? Now Lionsgate, which paid $25M for this U.S. acquisition, has another disappointment though not financially. Still, from testing the film (and we all know testing is meaningless), Lionsgate hopes it can “play & play & play” and break out of the 2.5X opening weekend formula for its ultimate gross.”

Reviews were very strong — over 76% fresh on Rotten Tomatoes. Then again, the pic’s outrageous profanity and brutal violence & Hit Girl killing many adults and being struck and injured herself was controversial pre-release. That’s usually “good” for a movie campaign at this stage. Tracking-wise, the pic managed to get an extraordinarily high unaided awareness number and resonated with males under 25 followed by males over 25 in awareness, interest, and first choice. But females under 25 lagged behind in choice. That made the difference. Along with a Cinemascore which I’m told was only a “B”.

3. Date Night (Fox) Week 2 [3,380 Theaters]
Friday $5.4M, Saturday $7.75M, Weekend $17.3M, Cume $50M

The good news story of the weekend with an excellent hold.

4. Death At A Funeral (Screen Gems/Sony) NEW [2,459 Theaters]
Friday $5.6M, Saturday $6.7M, Weekend $17M

death_at_a_funeral_poster_01Another underperformer after a soft Friday and Saturday. Screen Gems/Sony had hoped for $20M, about what it claimed the pic’s budget was with Neil LaBute at the helm. To say that the strength of Death At A Funeral lies in the African-American community is somewhat of an understatement. But the big question was crossover, even with that strong comedy cast. (Sure, Tracy Morgan is hot, but Chris Rock is not.) As usual, Sony’s strong marketing went on overdrive and promoted the pic beyond the boring talk show circuit. The studio held a nationwide stand up contest in 15 markets, and some winners will open for Tracy’s comedy tour.

5. Clash Of The Titans 3D (Warner Bros) Week 3 [3,753 Theaters]
Friday $4.2M, Saturday $6.7M, Weekend $15.7M, Cume $132.9M

6. The Last Song (Disney) Week 3 [2,767 Theaters]
Friday $1.9M, Weekend $5.7M, Estimated Cume $50M

7. Why Did I Get Married Too (Lionsgate) Week 3 [1,859 Theaters]
Friday $1.2M, Weekend $4.1M, Cume $54.8M

8. Hot Tub Time Machine (UA/MGM) Week 4 [2,308 Theaters]
Friday $1.0M, Estimated Weekend $2.8M, Estimated Cume $41.7M

9. Alice In Wonderland 3D (Disney) Week 7 [2,024 Theaters]
Friday $940K, Estimated Weekend $3.2M, Estimated Cume $323.6M

10. Bounty Hunter (Sony) Week 5 [2,475 Theaters]
Friday $975K, Saturday $1.4M, Weekend $3.2M, Cume $60.3M