This week:

The Easter box office goes to the birds, elephants, and Madea; Bob and Harvey Weinstein find something to Crow about; Sean Penn, Ryan Gosling and Josh Brolin look to become members of the Gangster Squad; Emile Hirsch has joined the Savages; Relativity Media sets a date for House at the End of the Street; and Denis Villeneuve will take charge of Prisoners.

Box Office

Rio reigned triumphant for a second time over the Easter weekend, dropping only 32% to an estimated $26.6 million over the holiday frame, and upping its total cume to $81.1 million. Twentieth Century Fox is almost undoubtedly developing plans for a sequel to the kid-friendly toon, with the hopes that this will be the beginning of a new franchise that could match the popularity of Blue Sky Animation’s Ice Age series. More colorful, celebrity-voiced animal characters in 3D, anyone? Anyone?

Love him or loathe him, there’s no denying the box office powerhouse that is Tyler Perry. Whenever the man writes, directs, and appears in crazy grandma drag in a movie, there’s an audience – and his latest film, Madea’s Big Happy Family, proved just that. Despite playing in only 2,288 theaters, the comedic pic snagged second place with an estimated gross of $25.7 million. Ladies and gentlemen, meet the new Alex Cross.

Water for Elephants exceeded Fox 2000’s expectations by bringing in around $17.5 million over the weekend, landing in third place overall. Those results aren’t really that shocking, though: it was based on a popular best-seller by Sara Gruen, offered appeal to the Twilight crowd by featuring Robert Pattinson in the lead, and was marketed as an old-fashioned tale of romance and wonder to draw in older moviegoers as well. All the same, props to Fox for its efforts.

Hop landed (excuse the pun) in fourth place, grossing close to $12.4 million for a $100.4 million total to date. The Easter Bunny tale was actually up over 10% from last weekend – not so surprising, given the holiday, right?

Scream 4 took in an estimated $7.1 million, which marked a 62% drop from last weekend’s less-than-stellar opening take. The total gross now stands at $31.1 million – which means studio heads’ plans for a new Scream trilogy may be as dead as… well, the latest incarnation of Ghostface.

African Cats is this year’s customary documentary from Disneynature, and the pic grossed around $6.4 million over the weekend. That’s pretty much in line with early expectations for the Samuel L. Jackson-narrated pic.

Soul Surfer continues to hold up well, dropping only about 25% for a $5.6 million gross for the weekend. The true-life inspirational drama has upped its cume to $28.6 million total.

Insidious brought on an estimated $5.3 million over the weekend, lifting its total gross to $44.1 million. It looks like the old-school scarefest is going to beat out Scream 4 in the battle for horror’s soul after all.

Hanna also grossed about $5.2 million over Easter weekend and has made some $31.7 million overall. It may soon surpass the U.S. gross of fellow girl-power flick Sucker Punch as well – who would’ve predicted that just a couple months back?

Source Code rounded out the top ten with an estimated take of $5 million for a $44.6 million total. The sci-fi flick has quietly done all right by itself at the box office. Could director Duncan Jones be on his way to bigger and better things – like helming Wolverine 2?

Source: Deadline

Movie News

1. It turns out fans of Alex Proyas’ 1994 film adaptation of The Crow aren’t the only ones a bit miffed about the impending reboot from director Juan Carlos Fresnadillo. The Weinstein Company is claiming that Relativity Media is illegally shopping around distribution rights to the pic – rights that the former says it holds because of an agreement reached in 2009.

Relativity Media has released a letter (read it HERE) that serves as a rebuttal to the Weinsteins’ assertion. Personally, I suspect too many fans are too busy thinking about the Bradley Cooper rumors to care about this bit of studio clashing right now.

Source: THR, Deadline

2. Zombieland helmer Ruben Fleischer is trying his hand at the real-life crime drama genre with Gangster Squad (formerly known as Tales From the Gangster Squad). The project looks to star multiple Oscar-winner Sean Penn as infamous Los Angeles mobster Mickey Cohen – with Oscar-nominees Ryan Gosling and Josh Brolin in talks to play a pair of cops charged with taking the violent criminal down.

Former LA cop Will Beall (Castle) penned the script for Gangster Squad – so chances are good this will play out as a gritty and authentic mob drama/thriller. Could this be the new Untouchables? We can only hope…

Source: Deadline

3. Emile Hirsche (Speed Racer, Into the Wild) is the latest addition to Oliver Stone’s adaptation of Don Winslow’s best-selling novel, Savages. He’ll join the likes of Taylor Kitsch, Aaron Johnson, Blake Lively, John Travolta, Uma Thurman, Benicio Del Toro, and Salma Hayek in the drug cartel drama.

With a cast crammed full of notable talents, engaging source material, and timely subject matter, it seems like Savages has all the makings of a critical hit – and then some. Here’s to hoping that Stone delivers on all that promise.

Source: Variety

4. I sure hope you’re a fan of Winter’s Bone actress Jennifer Lawrence; the Oscar-nominated starlet will be appearing in four films over the next year, including The Beaver, X-Men: First Class, The Hunger Games – and the dark tale House at the End of the Street, which Relativity Media has now scheduled for theatrical release on February 3rd, 2012.

House at the End of the Street stars Lawrence as a young woman who moves with her mom (Elisabeth Shue) to a town where a brutal double-murder took place. Matters get all the trickier when Lawrence’s character befriends the only person (Max Theriot) who survived the incident. Who’s willing to take bets that this turns out to not be a good idea?

Source: Relativity Media

5. French-Canadian filmmaker Denis Villeneuve earned much in the way of praise for last year’s Foreign Language Oscar-nominated flick Incendies – and now he’s prepped to make his English-language debut by helming Prisoners, working from Aaron Guzikowski’s Black List script.

Here is how 24 Frames describes Prisoners:

“Prisoners” tells of a working-class Boston father whose young daughter is kidnapped, along with her friend. Frustrated by a local detective’s handling of the case, the father takes as a hostage the man he believes committed the crimes.

Leonardo DiCaprio has been attached to star for a while now, but it looks like he won’t be involved with the project after all. All the same, Guzikowski’s screenplay is said to be an excellent one – and by the sound of it, this could be quite the serious and intense thriller. Sound promising?

Source: LA Times

That’s it for now. See you at the movies!