Never underestimate the power of a talking bunny.
In case Jake Gyllenhaal hadn't learned that lesson a decade ago in 'Donnie Darko,' he was schooled again as 'Hop' jumped higher than all expectations and opened with a stunning $38.2 million, according to studio estimates, marking the best opening of 2011. Gyllenhaal's own 'Source Code' debuted a distant second with an estimated $15.1 million.
Predictions for 'Hop' guessed that the kids' movie, starring the voice of Russell Brand as the Easter Bunny's hare apparent, would open at around $27 million, given the film's poor reviews and the fact that Easter is still three weeks away. Then again, poor reviews didn't stop 'Alvin and the Chipmunks' (a movie that was, like 'Hop,' a live-action/animation hybrid directed by Tim Hill) from becoming a huge hit. Also, saturation marketing and a basketful of cross-promotional partners made the movie inescapable. And Brand proved, as he did in 'Bedtime Stories,' that his usually blue act can be toned down for children. As a result, its opening edged out that of the year's previous record holder, fellow talking-animal flick 'Rango,' which debuted with $38.1 million a month ago.