Birds of a feather flock to Rio, and so do audiences everywhere. Fox’s 3-D animated carnival, the high flyer at last week’s box office, saw nothing but blue skies its second time around; it earned $26.8 million, according to early studio estimates, to win the Easter weekend at North American movie theaters. The colorful love story of two blue macaws also keeps charming the rest of the world: it has amassed $204.7 million in foreign climes since opening on Apr. 7, a week before its U.S. debut. The $286 million worldwide total makes Rio the year’s top-grossing film, passing another cartoon feature, the Johnny Depp Rango, now in second place at $240 million.
It was Easter eggs for all, with a 39% jump over the same weekend last year a rare bonanza in this depressed box-office season. Behind Rio, three new movies enjoyed strong debuts. Tyler Perry’s Madea’s Big Happy Family courted the African-American audience, earning $25.75 million and second place. Robert Pattinson proved there is life beyond The Twilight Saga by lifting the period circus drama Water for Elephants to the show position with an overachieving $17.5 million. And African Cats, the Disney wild-animal documentary for Earth Day, pulled respectable $6.4 million at just 1,220 theaters. Other good news: each of these films earned either an A or an A-minus rating from CinemaScore’s poll of exiting moviegoers, which hints at good word-of-mouth and an extended life span.