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Weekend Box Office: Puss in Boots Claws Its Way to the Top

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By Chris Kavan - 10/31/11 at 12:22 PM CT

With so many things happening this weekend: baseball, snow storms and early Halloween celebrations, the box office was a bit frightening over the weekend.

None-the-less, there was a winner and it happened to be feline in nature. Puss in Boots, a spin-off from the Shrek series, took in $34 million to lead the pack. It was helped by 3D, which accounted for 51% of the take. Despite the #1 finish, Puss in Boots came in below expectations and was the third-worst debut for a computer-animated film. While the character was popular, it seems he may not have been popular enough to bring in large crowds. Still, the overall score from audiences was a solid A-, meaning the film could have some legs, which it will need to earn back its reported $130 million budget.

Meanwhile, Paranormal Activity 3 kept on terrorizing audiences. Despite falling 65%, the prequel ended up in second place with $18.5 million - and Halloween today is sure to bring in big numbers again. As it stands now with $81.3 million, it should easily surpass the second film's $84.8 million total and all on a $5 million budget. Expect to see Paranormal Activity 4 in theaters this time next year.

In third place, the action/sci-fi film In Time, despite featuring a young, trendy cast, took in just $12 million. Justin Timberlake couldn't match the opening of Friends With Benefits ($18.6 million) nor could Amanda Seyfried boast a better opening to her Red Riding Hood ($14 million). It seems that audiences prefer Timberlake in supporting roles rather than a lead, as the underwhelming B- doesn't bode well for long-term attendance. It will have to work mightily to get to $50 million, it might do well just to hit its $40 million budget.

Johnny Depp couldn't draw in a huge crowd for The Rum Diary. It managed to just crack the top 5 with $5 million and proved about as big a draw as the similarly-themed Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas ($3.3 million) and will probably end up somewhere in the $15 -$20 million range. The story is a tough sell to a wide audience (much like Loathing) and it won't approach its $50 million budget, at least not in the U.S. alone. The tepid C cinema score also doesn't help matters much.

Rounding out the top 5, Footloose took the fourth spot with $5.4 million after dropping 48%. The dance flick has earned $38.5 million in three weeks. The rest of the also-rans had varying success. The Three Musketeers took the biggest hit, dropping a hard 60% with a $3.5 million winding up in 7th with just a $14.5 million total. Rounding out the top 10 was the inspirational film Courageous, which took in $1.8 million and now stands at $27.6, dropping a week-to-week best 27%.

Next week, two comedies will duke it out for top place: the ensemble cast of Tower Heist vs. the stoner duo in A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas. We'll see what kind of comedy audiences are more interested in and whether Puss in Boots can survive the onslaught.

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