LOS ANGELES – The animated telling of "Beowulf," who rids a Danish kingdom of the feared beast Grendel, slew the box office over the weekend, giving a huge boost to 3-D films in the process.
The Paramount Pictures release earned $28.1 million in its opening weekend — 40 percent of which came from special 3-D showings in regular theaters and on Imax screens.
The film did $8 million in ticket sales on 638 screens equipped with technology from RealD, which uses a special reflective screen and polarized lens glasses that moviegoers can take as a souvenir.
Theater owners were able to charge about $2 extra for the 3-D showing.
The film also sold $3.6 million worth of tickets on 84 Imax screens showing the film using their own 3-D technology.
"Twenty percent of the screens produced 40 percent of the gross," Paramount general sales manager Don Harris said Sunday.
The film, from director Robert Zemeckis, used performance-capture technology to render lifelike images of its stars Ray Winstone and Angelina Jolie.
"If this isn't a mandate on the popularity and viability of 3-D, I don't know what is," said Paul Dergarabedian, president of box-office tracker Media By Numbers.
Studios are planning even more animated and live actions films in 3-D as they try to lure audiences back into multiplexes.
This week's top 12 films grossed 29 percent less than the top 12 in the same weekend last year. Ticket sales were also off 3 percent from last week.
Attendance has been down eight of the past nine weekends according to Media By Numbers.
But studio officials said Sunday they expected a slate of family films to gain steam during the extended Thanksgiving holiday and into December.
The animated family film "Bee Movie," written by Jerry Seinfeld, had the second-highest gross of the weekend with $14.3 million in ticket sales, bringing its total after three weeks to $98.8 million.
The release by DreamWorks Animation has been hovering in the top two spots at the box office since it opened.
The fantasy tale "Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium," from 20th Century Fox, opened in fifth place with $10 million. The movie stars Dustin Hoffman and Natalie Portman in a story of an eccentric who owns a toy store with a life of its own.
The other film opening over the weekend, "Love in the Time of Cholera," from New Line, debuted in 10th place with $1.9 million.
Estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday at U.S. and Canadian theaters, according to Media By Numbers LLC. Final figures will be released Monday.
1. "Beowulf," $28.1 million.
2. "Bee Movie," $14.3 million.
3. "American Gangster," $13.2 million.
4. "Fred Claus," $12 million.
5. "Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium," $10 million.
6. "Dan in Real Life," $4.5 million.
7. "No Country for Old Men," $3 million.
8. "Lions for Lambs," $3 million.
9. "Saw IV," $2.3 million.
10. "Love in the Time of Cholera," $1.9 million.