Box Office: ‘Hop’ keeps Russell Brand on top as ‘Hanna’ surprises

It might be the best and the worst of times for Russell Brand.  The 35-year-old actor/comedian stayed atop the box office on Friday but it wasn’t in the film most thought would be no. 1.  Brand lended his voice and promotional energy to the animated “Hop” and last weekend’s family friendly CG-hybrid stayed strong with another $5.5 million for $52 million to date.  The second hit from new Universal division Illumination Entertainment, “Hop” could easily make $20 million this weekend alone.

On the other hand,  second place found the debut of Brand’s remake of “Arthur.”  The comedy, which also stars Brand’s “Tempest” co-star Helen Mirren, found $4.5 million and will be lucky to hit $13-14 million from the weekend.  That’s significantly below pre-release polling which pegged the comedy at an $18 million debut.  

One of the reasons “Arthur” may have underperformed is because of competition from the R-rated comedy “Your Highness.”  The James Franco, Danny McBride and Natalie Portman farce was eviscerated by critics, but still found $3.8 million from moviegoers.  Like “Arthur,” however, the delayed fantasy flick was expected to find more fans at the box office.  At this point, it will be lucky to hit $9 million over the three-day weekend.

Coming in at no. 3 was the well-reviewed thriller “Hanna.”  Debuting in only 2,535 theaters, the Cate Blanchett, Eric Bana and Saoirse Ronan picture found $4.2 million for what should be a $12-14 million weekend.  

Also debuting strongly was the indie “Soul Surfer” with $3.7 million.  The true and inspirational story, which also features the big screen debut of country star Carrie Underwood, could make $10 million over the frame. Sony Pictures and FilmDistrict worked hard to market to young girls and Christian audiences and their efforts seem to have been rewarded.

Look for final weekend estimates tomorrow on HitFix.