LOS ANGELES - The Easter bunny has hopped into the top spot at the weekend box office.
Russell Brand's family comedy "Hop" debuted at No. 1 with $38.1 million, according to studio estimates Sunday.
With Brand providing the voice of the reluctant new Easter bunny, "Hop" bound well beyond the expectations of industry analysts, who had figured the movie would debut in the $25 million range.
Released by Universal, "Hop" matched the year's best debut, for "Rango," which opened a month ago with $38.1 million.
Jake Gyllenhaal's action thriller "Source Code" debuted at No. 2 with $15.1 million. The haunted-house tale "Insidious" opened at No. 3 with $13.5 million.
A Summit Entertainment release, "Source Code" stars Gyllenhaal as an Army officer tracking down a terrorist bomber by entering the mind of a man aboard a train that's about to be blown up.
"Insidious," released by Film District, features Patrick Wilson and Rose Byrne as a couple with three young children who encounter an eerie force after moving into a new house.
The previous weekend's top movie, "Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules," fell to No. 4 with $10.2 million, raising its total to $38.4 million.
While "Hop" was among the year's best openings, it was unable to lift Hollywood out of a box-office slide that has persisted since late last year.
Overall revenues came in at $125 million, solid receipts for this time of year. Yet that was down 30 percent from the same weekend last year, when "Clash of the Titans" had a summer-style blockbuster opening of $61.2 million, according to box-office tracker Hollywood.com.
Revenues so far this year are at $2.3 billion, off 20 percent from 2010, which had an unusual string of hits during a typically slow season for movie theaters.
"Even when we have a really strong weekend like this, we can't win, again because of last year's incredible run of big weekend after big weekend early in the year," said Hollywood.com analyst Paul Dergarabedian.
Despite a slow market, "Hop" might be able to leg it out for a while at theaters, with Easter still three weeks away. A combination of live-action and computer animation, the movie has Brand's runaway bunny finding refuge with a grown-up slacker (James Marsden).
"When was there ever a really, truly Easter movie like this, about the Easter bunny that was kid friendly?" said Nikki Rocco, head of distribution for Universal. "I don't see why it wouldn't play out up to and including that little Easter Monday."
Estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday at U.S. and Canadian theaters, according to Hollywood.com. Final figures will be released Monday.
1. "Hop," $38.1 million.
2. "Source Code," $15.1 million.
3. "Insidious," $13.5 million.
4. "Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules," $10.2 million.
5. "Limitless," $9.4 million.
6. "The Lincoln Lawyer," $7.1 million.
7. "Sucker Punch," $6.1 million.
8. "Rango," $4.6 million.
9. "Paul," $4.3 million.
10. "Battle: Los Angeles," $3.5 million.