Lionsgate's latest Tyler Perry comedy, "Madea's Big Happy Family," debuted to a solid $25.8 million this weekend, but it was not enough to win the domestic box office, which was taken for the second weekend in a row by Fox's CG-animated "Rio."
The Blue Sky Studios 3D "Rio," which voice stars Jessie Eisenberg and Anne Hathaway, grossed $26.8 million in weekend No. 2, dropping just 32 percent, according to studio estimates.
Internationally, "Rio" led the box office for a third straight weekend, grossing $44.2 million and bringing its foreign total to $204 million. The film has taken in more than $285 million worldwide.
In third place, Fox's dark Robert Pattinson/Reese Witherspoon drama "Water for Elephants" met its middling pre-release forecast, grossing an estimated $17.5 million. The film cost Fox 2000 $38 milion to produce
One other film opened widely this weekend, with Disney's latest nature documentary, "African Cats" decelerating from Friday's brisk pace and grossing only $6.4 million for the weekend.
Disney's similarly modeled "Oceans" was produced for $80 million and premiered to $6.1 million last year, ultimatedly yielding $82.7 million worldwide.
Overall, the box office was down 23 percent from last Easter.
Here's how the top 10 finished. Full report continues below chart:
The better news: The box office was actually up over 40 percent from the same weekend on the April calendar last year.
All three new release garnered "A" grades from moviegoer survey firm Cinemascore (with Perry's "Madea's Big Happy Family" scoring an A, and "Water for Elephants" and "African Cats" getting "A-minuses").
And holdovers including "Hop" (actually up 16 percent), "Soul Surfer" (-24 percent), "Insidious" (-21 percent), "Hanna" (-28 percent) and "Source Code" (-20 percent) all showed strong resilancy.
"This was a pretty solid weekend at the box office," noted David Spitz, executive VP and general sales manager for Lionsgate.
For its part, Universal's Easter Bunny-themed "Hop" will use Easter Sunday to pass a key milestone, with the film having now grossed more than $100 million domestically.
Universal has other good things ahead of it, with the huge-tracking "Fast Five" set for release next weekend.
The fifth "Fast and Furious" franchise installment already opened big in the UK, Australia, New Zealand and South Korea this weekend, grossing $24 million at 957 locations.
In the world of arthouse fare, Morgan Spurlock's latest dive into the darker regions of integrated sponsorship, "POM Wonderful Presents: The Greatest Movie Ever Sold" had a rough start, with the film grossing only $135,000 at 18 theaters this weekend.
Oscar-nominated foreign drama "Incendies," meanwhile, grossed $54,600 playing at three locations for a middling per-screen average of $18,200. Both were released by Sony Pictures Classics.