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Posted at 06:00 PM ET, 04/17/2011

BOX OFFICE: ‘Rio’ dances to $40M weekend win

After spending the better part of a decade on his hit “Ice Age” trilogy, director Carlos Saldanha would seem to have launched a whole new franchise during this, the Spring of the CG film.

The Brazilian-born filmmaker saw his latest CG-animated movie, “Rio,” gross $40-million to win the weekend handily at the domestic box office — and best “Rango” for the biggest debut of 2011, according to studio estimates released Sunday. Final numbers are expected Monday.

Saldanha also keeps his streak alive: Every animated film he’s directed or co-directed — including 2005’s “Robots” — has grossed at least $35-million on its opening weekend. His five animated films have now made nearly $750-million at the domestic window, according to Box Office Mojo.

“Rio” — a G-rated tale of rare birds and romance (as if a G-rated tale of romance in hotspot Rio weren’t rare enough) — has also grossed a whopping $168-million around the globe, according to estimates. “It’s working in every country on the planet,” Fox distribution executive Bert Livingston boasted to the Associated Press.

“Rio” features the high-energy voice of Oscars co-host Anne Hathaway and the decidely more low-key voice of “The Social Network’s” Jesse Eisenberg.

Elsewhere, the debut of “Scream 4” made only $19.3-million, while a CG/live-action hybrid, the former box-office champ “Hop,” grossed $11.2-million — climbing to $86.2-million overall domestically.

Aside from the commercial bomb “Mars Needs Moms,” animation and CG hybrids are largely powering the box office so far this year. Besides “Rio” and “Hop,” the animated western “Rango” has grossed $119-million and “Gnomeo and Juliet” is about to pass the $100-million mark domestically.

And that’s before Pixar the box-office powerhouse bows in this year with “Cars 2,” due out June 24.

By  |  06:00 PM ET, 04/17/2011

 
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