"Wimpy Kid" rules weekend box offices

LOS ANGELES Sun Mar 27, 2011 1:27pm EDT

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LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Family comedy "Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules" outmuscled adventure "Sucker Punch" to claim the North American weekend box office title with $24.4 million in ticket sales, according to studio estimates on Sunday.

"Wimpy Kid," based on the successful books about a boy in middle school, easily toppled "Sucker Punch," a fantasy tale of young women who can escape their dark lives by retreating into a dreamworld where they battle rivals. It claimed the No. 2 spot on movie charts with $19 million.

"Sucker Punch" and "Wimpy Kid" were the only new major releases in theaters over the weekend, and had been widely expected to compete for No. 1. "Sucker Punch" started out strong on Friday, but families hitting theaters on Saturday helped lift up the "Wimpy Kid."

Rounding out the top 3 at $15.2 million was thriller "Limitless," starring Bradley Cooper as a man who takes a drug that increases his brain capacity.

In its second weekend of release, "Limitless" ticket sales fell only 19 percent from one week ago when it claimed the No. 1 spot. Similarly, thriller "The Lincoln Lawyer" saw only a 17 percent drop and turned in $11 million to stay at No. 4.

Typically, movies may see their ticket sales fall anywhere from 40 percent to 50 percent or more from one weekend to the next, and a slight decline shows both films are enjoying success with moviegoers.

"Limitless" has received 67 percent positive reviews from critics polled by Rottentomatoes.com, and "Lincoln Lawyer" has scored well with 81 percent of reviewers. By contrast, "Sucker Punch" is seeing 80 percent of its critiques in the not-so-good category, according to the website that compiles criticism.

Meanwhile, animated kids comedy "Rango," fell from No. 2 last week to No. 5 with $9.8 million. It now has claimed $106.4 million after four weeks in theaters.

"Wimpy Kid" was released by 20th Century Fox film studio, a unit of News Corp. "Sucker Punch" was distributed by Warner Bros. movie studio, part of Time Warner Inc, and "Limitless" was released by privately held Relativity Media. "The Lincoln Lawyer" was released by Lions Gate and Rango by Paramount Pictures, a unit of Viacom Inc..

(Reporting by Bob Tourtellotte; Editing by Sandra Maler))

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