"How to Train Your Dragon" continues to breathe fire at the box office, while newer releases are mostly blowing smoke.
The DreamWorks Animation adventure took in $15 million to reclaim the No. 1 spot in its fifth weekend of release. "How to Train Your Dragon" opened in first place in late March, then dropped back into the pack. But it has held up strongly and climbed to the top again amid a flurry of so-so new releases.
The tale of a Viking youth and his pet dragon raised its total to $178 million and is on its way to becoming a $200 million hit.
Premiering weakly at No. 2 with $12.3 million was Jennifer Lopez's romantic comedy "The Back-up Plan," released by CBS Films. Another comedy, Steve Carell and Tina Fey's "Date Night" from 20th Century Fox, held up well to finish at No. 3 with $10.6 million, raising its total to $63.5 million.
Among the weekend's other newcomers, the Warner Bros. action flick "The Losers" flopped at No. 4 with $9.6 million. Disney's nature film "Oceans" had a solid opening for a documentary, coming in at No. 8 with $6 million.
"How to Train Your Dragon" nearly regained the No. 1 spot the previous weekend but wound up a close second to Lionsgate's superhero comedy "Kick-Ass." In its second weekend, "Kick-Ass" slumped to No. 5 with $9.5 million, down 52 percent from its debut, lifting its total to $34.9 million.
Revenues for "How to Train Your Dragon" were off a scant 23 percent from the previous weekend.
"To be No. 1 in week five, it's an exciting time," said Anne Globe, head of marketing for DreamWorks Animation. "Especially to be decisively No. 1 after last weekend's box-office shenanigans."
The box office had ended in rare photo finishes for two straight weekends as movies bunched up tightly in the rankings. Though "How to Train Your Dragon" was the clear winner this time, top movies again were crowded closely together as the weekend's newcomers failed to grab much attention.
Overall Hollywood revenues should top out at about $100 million, the lowest-grossing weekend of the year, said Paul Dergarabedian, box-office analyst for Hollywood.com.
Fans may simply be watching their finances amid the slow economic recovery, saving their money for the onslaught of summer blockbusters that starts May 7 with "Iron Man 2."
"They may be saying, 'I want to see big summer movies, so I'm just going to wait,'" Dergarabedian said. "Then suddenly, we're going to have this massive weekend when 'Iron Man 2' opens after we've had these mediocre weekends."
While "The Back-up Plan" opened weakly, CBS Films was hoping it would hold up well in subsequent weekends, as romantic comedies often do.
"Jennifer Lopez's films have great legs, as does she," said Steven Friedlander, head of distribution for CBS Films.
"The Back-up Plan" stars Lopez as a single woman who gets pregnant through artificial insemination, then meets the man of her dreams.
"The Losers," whose cast includes "Avatar" co-star Zoe Saldana, is a comic-book adaptation about a Special Forces team looking for payback after a mission goes bad.
Narrated by Pierce Brosnan, "Oceans" offers up-close glimpses of blue whales, walruses, sea turtles, spider crabs and other aquatic life. Since opening on Earth Day Thursday, "Oceans" has taken in $8.5 million.
"Oceans" played in narrower release than other new movies, averaging $4,975 in 1,206 theaters, a fair result for a documentary. By comparison, "The Back-up Plan" averaged $3,735 in 3,280 theaters and "The Losers" averaged $3,271 in 2,936 cinemas.
Estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday at U.S. and Canadian theaters, according to Hollywood.com. Final figures will be released Monday.
1. "How to Train Your Dragon," $15 million.
2. "The Back-up Plan," $12.3 million.
3. "Date Night," $10.6 million.
4. "The Losers," $9.6 million.
5. "Kick-Ass," $9.5 million.
6. "Clash of the Titans," $9 million.
7. "Death at a Funeral," $8 million.
8. "Oceans," $6 million.
9. "The Last Song," $3.7 million.
10. "Alice in Wonderland," $2.2 million.
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Universal Pictures and Focus Features are owned by NBC Universal, a unit of General Electric Co.; Sony Pictures, Sony Screen Gems and Sony Pictures Classics are units of Sony Corp.; Paramount and Paramount Vantage are divisions of Viacom Inc.; Disney's parent is The Walt Disney Co.; Miramax is a division of The Walt Disney Co.; 20th Century Fox, Fox Searchlight Pictures and Fox Atomic are owned by News Corp.; Warner Bros. and New Line are units of Time Warner Inc.; MGM is owned by a consortium of Providence Equity Partners, Texas Pacific Group, Sony Corp., Comcast Corp., DLJ Merchant Banking Partners and Quadrangle Group; Lionsgate is owned by Lions Gate Entertainment Corp.; IFC Films is owned by Rainbow Media Holdings, a subsidiary of Cablevision Systems Corp.; Rogue Pictures is owned by Relativity Media LLC; Overture Films is a subsidiary of Liberty Media Corp.