* ‘Puss’ scratches out $51 mln globally
* Strong European debut for Spielberg’s ‘Tintin’ (Adds quotes, details on top five films)
By Lisa Richwine
LOS ANGELES, Oct 30 (Reuters) - Animated movie “Puss in Boots” landed on its feet with a $51 million global debut over the weekend and likely set a Halloween weekend record for a domestic opening, according to studio estimates released on Sunday.
The big-budget 3D spinoff from the blockbuster “Shrek” series took top domestic box-office honors, while the new Steven Spielberg-directed “The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn” performed strong in international markets.
“Puss” lapped up a solid $34 million from North American (U.S. and Canadian) theaters, which will top the $33.6 million Halloween weekend record set by horror movie “Saw 3” if the figure holds when the final tally is released on Monday.
Audiences polled by survey firm CinemaScore gave “Puss” an A- rating on average. Antonio Banderas provided the voice for the sword-fighting cat, which was originally seen as a sidekick in the “Shrek” movies.
DreamkWorks Animation, which produced “Puss” for about $130 million, said the movie performed within expectations. An early snowstorm in the East likely shaved “a couple million” off the weekend’s sales, said Anne Globe, chief marketing officer for DreamWorks Animation.
Knowing many families were busy with Halloween activities, the studio plans a big push to bring in filmgoers next weekend, Globe said. “We’re well-positioned to maximize the release going into November. I think we will have strong word of mouth,” Globe said.
“Puss” added $17 million from three international markets for a combined total of $51 million.
Other moviegoers seeking a Halloween scare opted for horror flick “Paranormal Activity 3.” The low-budget haunted house sequel, last week’s box-office winner, slipped to second place with $18.5 million. Its worldwide sales to date reached $136 million since the movie hit theaters a week ago.
New science fiction thriller “In Time,” starring Justin Timberlake and Amanda Seyfried, took third place for the weekend with $12 million. The total was within the studio’s expectations, said Chris Aronson, senior vice president for domestic distribution at 20th Century Fox. The film, which cost about $40 million to make, explores a world where wealthy people can buy immortality while the poor scramble to purchase time to live past age 25.
Just 36 percent of critics featured on review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes gave a positive review.
A remake of 1980s dance classic “Footloose” landed in fourth place, earning $5.4 million during its third weekend in theaters.
Another new film, “The Rum Diary” starring Johnny Depp, grossed a lackluster $5 million to finish in fifth place. The drama about a journalist working in 1950s Puerto Rico is based on a semi-autobiographical novel by the late Hunter S. Thompson.
“While we all wish the numbers were better, we’re proud of the film and its loving tribute to Hunter S. Thompson,” Bob Berney, head of theatrical distribution for FilmDistrict, said in an emailed statement.
Overseas, Spielberg’s “Tintin” pulled in a strong $55.8 million from 19 markets where it debuted. Distributors Sony and Paramount sought to capitalize on Europe’s adoration of Tintin, a Belgian comic book hero mostly unknown to North American moviegoers. The 3D motion-capture movie won’t reach U.S. theaters until just before Christmas.
“Puss in Boots” was produced by DreamWorks Animation and distributed by Paramount Pictures, a unit of Viacom Inc. “Paranormal Activity 3” and “Footloose” also were released by Paramount. News Corp unit 20th Century Fox released “In Time.” Privately held FilmDistrict distributed “The Rum Diary.” Sony Corp and Paramount released “The Adventures of Tintin.” (Reporting by Lisa Richwine; Editing by Bill Trott)