Box office: ‘Clash of the Titans’ leads the class

Apple’s iPad and the NCAA Final Four were no match for Zeus and Perseus.

“Clash of the Titans” cruised to the top of the box office without even breaking a sweat. The 3-D remake of the 1981 kitschy classic took in an estimated $61.4 million this past weekend. That was more than twice what the No. 2 movie, Tyler Perry’s “Why Did I Get Married Too?,” earned. Rounding out the top five were “How to Train Your Dragon,” Miley Cyrus’ “The Last Song” and “Alice in Wonderland.”

Not only did “Clash of the Titans” have to overcome outside distractions fighting for the attention of its heavily male audience -- including the release of Apple’s newest gadget, college basketball’s playoffs and Easter Sunday, it also was battling for 3-D screen space with “Alice in Wonderland” and “How to Train Your Dragon.”

“If there was a battle out there, victory is ours,” declared Dan Fellman, Warner Bros.’ president of domestic distribution. The movie, which was co-produced and co-financed by Warner Bros. and Legendary Pictures, cost about $122 million to make. That figure does not include the marketing expenses, but with a strong start in the U.S. and an additional $44.2 million from 15 markets abroad, “Clash of the Titans” looks poised to take on all rivals for a few more weeks.

The extra money from 3-D ticket sales was key. According to Fellman, about 52% of the box-office take was from 3-D sales, and ticket prices for 3-D movies can run as much as $5 more than those for regular 2-D movies. Warner Bros. did not initially plan on releasing “Clash of the Titans” as a 3-D movie and the decision to do so clearly helped the studio get a much bigger payday.

The projections for “Clash of the Titans” were that it would make between $60 million and $70 million in the United States. The box office drop was about 18% from Friday to Saturday. Any drop greater than 20% from opening day to Day 2 is considered to be a sign of the dreaded bad buzz. CinemaScore, a market research firm that grades movies based on audience research, gave “Clash of the Titans” a B, according to Fellman, who said the studio was actually anticipating a bigger Saturday drop -- in the neighborhood of 25%. “The audience reaction has been terrific,” he said.

The success for “Clash of the Titans” will likely lead to even more of a fury to release movies in 3-D. “Alice in Wonderland” continues to perform and “How to Train Your Dragon” had a very strong Week 2 after an opening weekend that some considered to be disappointing.

For DreamWorks Animation, the $29.2 million that its “How to Train Your Dragon” took in came as welcome news. The 3-D animated movie made almost $44 million in its opening weekend, but that was considered disappointing and it even caused a slide in the animation house’s stock. But, the 33% drop in Week 2 is a good sign that the family film will overcome its so-called soft opening, no doubt thanks in part to the buzz from Easter break audiences.

“We knew that really strong reviews and word of mouth would propel the movie,” said Anne Globe, head of worldwide marketing for DreamWorks Animation. Even more impressive was that the box office actually went up 1% from Friday to Saturday. Abroad, the movie took in $38.5 million; it has made almost $100 million overseas.

Miley Cyrus showed she may have life beyond Hannah Montana and the occasional dance with a pole. Disney’s “The Last Song,” the latest movie based on a Nicholas Sparks novel, took in $16.2 million over the weekend, and the movie starring Cyrus and Greg Kinnear has made $25.6 million in the five days since it opened.

“Miley competed in the land of giants and did well,” said Chuck Viane, president of distribution for Walt Disney Studios.