Rango Lassos 2011’s Highest Weekend Gross

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The ComingSoon.net Box Office Report has been updated with studio estimates for the weekend. Click here for the full box office estimates of the top 12 films and then check back on Monday for the final figures based on actual box office.

After a relatively weak February, March kicked off strongly with two movies opening with more than $20 million, the clear weekend leader being Gore Verbinski’s animated comedy Rango (Paramount), reuniting him with Johnny Depp (or at least his voice) to the tune of an estimated $38 million, the most made by any movie in a single weekend so far this year. Its opening was a little weaker than expected although it didn’t have the higher ticket prices of most recent 3D animated films and it still averaged nearly $10,000 per site.

In second place, Matt Damon and Emily Blunt starred in George Nolfi’s sci-fi thriller The Adjustment Bureau (Universal) based on the Philip K. Dick short story, which brought in roughly $20.9 million over the weekend. It would be Damon’s highest opening non-“Bourne” solo effort to date following a string of movies that ended up grossing less than $40 million, followed by the recent breakout hit Western True Grit.

Vanessa Hudgens and Alex Pettyfer starred in the romantic fantasy Beastly (CBS Films), which far exceeded any expectations by opening in third place with $10.1 million in less than 2,000 theaters, an impressive average of over $5,000 per venue.

The Owen Wilson-Jason Sudeikis comedy Hall Pass (New Line/WB) dropped to fourth place with $9 million and $27 million in ten days. In fifth place, Disney’s sleeper hit Gnomeo & Juliet (Disney) added another $6.9 million to bring its total to $83.7 million after a month in theaters.

The next three movies in the Top 10 were fairly close to call with the Liam Neeson action-thriller Unknown (Warner Bros.) taking sixth with approximately $6.6 million followed by the Oscar-winning The King’s Speech (The Weinstein Company) and Adam Sandler and Jennifer Aniston’s Just Go With It (Sony) with $6.5 million each. Unknown has grossed $53 million to date, while The King’s Speech now has $124 million and Just Go With It has made $88 million so far.

DreamWorks’ sci-fi thriller I Am Number Four, also starring Alex Pettyfer, dropped 48% to ninth place with $5.7 million and $45.4 million total, while the 3D documentary Justin Bieber: Never Say Never (Paramount) rounded out the Top 10 with $4.3 million and $69 million in four weeks.

The Top 10 grossed roughly $114.6 million which is down 37% from the March-opening weekend last year in which Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland made more than this week’s Top 10 on its own.

Relativity Media’s long-delayed R-rated comedy Take Me Home Tonight (filmed four years ago!) tanked in its debut weekend, ending up outside the Top 10 with $3.5 million in 2,000 theaters, a pitiful average of less than $2k per venue.

Click here for the full box office results of the top 12 films.