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Posted at 10:45 AM ET, 04/19/2010

Weekend box office: 'Kick-Ass' does not quite...

By Jen Chaney

After last week's too-close-to-call box office report -- a competition so neck-and-neck that it eventually turned out "Clash of the Titans" captured the top-movie title, not "Date Night," as originally reported -- we've got another tight race on our hands.

Based on Sunday studio estimates, it appears "How to Train Your Dragon" claimed the top position at the weekend box office, out-grossing second-place finisher "Kick-Ass" by $200K, give or take. To the box office bullet points:

Chloe Moretz as Hit-Girl: Not a box office knock-out. (Lionsgate)

First, the obvious question: What the @*#! happened to "Kick-Ass"? After all the fanboy buzz and Hit-Girl hype, the ultra-adrenalized comic-book flick made just $19.8 million and, as stated above, didn't even open in first place. (Assuming, of course, that studio projections hold up.)

Part of the problem? Audience limitation. According to Box Office Mojo, 60 percent of the "Kick-Ass" audience was male and, more importantly, half was under the age of 25. Add in all the controversy about Hit-Girl and the hard-R rating -- which may have prevented a good number of teens from seeing it -- and you've got a recipe for a niche. A desirable niche, mind you, but enough of one to keep a broad swath of moviegoers from buying tickets.

Reviews and word-of-mouth on "Kick-Ass" trended toward the positive, though. So perhaps its destiny is to take No. 1 next week, assuming they can take out that spunky Jennifer Lopez. But more on that later.

The race between dragons and vigilante justice leagues wasn't the only close one at the box office this weekend. Two comedies -- "Date Night" and Chris Rock's "Death at a Funeral" -- also fell prey to the photo-finish effect; "Date" made $17.3 million, putting it in third place, while "Funeral" landed in fourth with $17 million. It seems moviegoers -- who bought enough tickets to raise overall cinema business by 12 percent -- are taking the classic mom approach: they like all their children the same. (You know, almost.)

In a random but notable aside for those who constantly wonder why Jennifer Aniston is a movie star, "The Bounty Hunter" managed to stay in the top 10 for the fifth consecutive week. The comedy has now amassed $60.3 million in North America and a total of $98.9 million worldwide, after being made for roughly $40 million. That's called a nice profit and -- the "quality" of "Bounty Hunter" not withstanding -- that's why Aniston continues to be perceived as profitable. (Yes, Gerard Butler *may* have helped. If you're into that sort of thing ... and I know a lot of you are.)

Now we look to this weekend, when Jennifer Lopez continues her (cough) comeback with "The Back-Up Plan" and another comic book-inspired action flick, "The Losers," attempts to attract attention. Will one of those movies win? Or will "Kick-Ass" finally triumph?

By Jen Chaney  | April 19, 2010; 10:45 AM ET
Categories:  Movies, Pop Culture  | Tags:  box office, movies  
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Am I the only one who thinks there were a lot of kids buying tickets to Dragon only to sneak into Kick Ass? Seems pretty obvious to me.

Posted by: chibbs2000 | April 19, 2010 12:18 PM | Report abuse

why does anyone pay jennifer lopez to do anything? she's past her minute of fame by many, many hours.

Posted by: frieda406 | April 19, 2010 4:19 PM | Report abuse

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