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'Cloudy' Sequel Tops Weekend Box Office

By Derrik J. Lang

LOS ANGELES -- Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 slurped up the box office.

The animated Sony (SNE) sequel featuring the voices of Bill Hader and Anna Faris opened in first place and earned $35 million in its debut weekend, according to studio estimates Sunday.

The original Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs was showered with $30.3 million during its opening weekend in 2009.

"It's remarkable that it did as well as and surpassed the first film," said Rory Bruer, head of distribution for Sony Pictures. "The filmmakers really ratcheted it up in terms of palette and tone. It's one of those films that just draws you in. The story is fun, and there's something for the whole family."

Last week's top film, Prisoners, slid to second place. The Warner Bros. (TWX) kidnapping thriller starring Hugh Jackman and Jake Gyllenhaal made $11.2 million in its second weekend, bringing its total domestic haul to $38.9 million.

Universal's (CMCSA) Formula One tale Rush, directed by Ron Howard and starring Chris Hemsworth, drove into the third position with $10.3 million in its second outing after expanding to 2,297 theaters in wide release.

The weekend's other new releases -- Fox Searchlight's Baggage Claim and Relativity's Don Jon -- didn't have debuts quite as sunny as Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2.

Baggage Claim, which features Paula Patton as a love-seeking flight attendant, opened in fourth place with $9.3 million.

Don Jon debuted at No. 5 with $9 million. The film was written, directed by and stars Joseph Gordon Levitt, as well as Scarlett Johansson and Julianne Moore.

Overall, the box office was down more than 7 percent versus the same weekend last year, when Hotel Transylvania and Looper opened in the top two spots at the box office.

"This was a solid, post-summer weekend," said Paul Dergarabedian, box-office analyst for Hollywood.com. "We're heading into a time where some of the most challenging and best films of the year are going to be released, like Gravity and Runner Runner."

Copyright 2011 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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