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Kids comedy "Meatballs" reigns at box office
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - "Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs," a new 3D animated feature based on a popular children's book, shone brightest at the weekend box office in North America on Sunday, overshadowing flops starring Matt Damon, Jennifer Aniston and Megan Fox.
"Meatballs" earned an estimated $30.1 million during the three days since it opened on Friday, said Sony Pictures Animation, a unit of Sony Corp. Industry forecasters were looking for the film to open in the $25 million-$30 million range.
The film is based on the 1978 book by Judi and Ron Barrett, in which a nerdy outcast invents a device that sends hamburgers, pizzas and pancakes dropping from the heavens.
Meanwhile, Damon and Aniston suffered their worst openings in years with "The Informant!" and "Love Happens," respectively. "Jennifer's Body," the headlining debut of "Transformers" hottie Fox, was dead on arrival.
"The Informant!" -- a Steven Soderbergh-directed comedy-drama based on the true story of a mentally disturbed government informant played by Damon -- opened at No. 2 with $10.5 million. Warner Bros., a unit of Time Warner Inc, had hoped the movie would open in the low-teen millions, but noted that it cost just $20 million to make.
Damon's previous low was the $9.9 million start for his Christmas 2006 release "The Good Shepherd," which went on to earn $60 million.
"Love Happens," a romantic comedy pairing Aniston with Aaron Eckhart," was No. 4 with $8.5 million. The $18 million picture was released by Universal Pictures, a unit of General Electric Co.
Aniston had been on a roll with such hits as "Marley and Me" and "The Break Up," which both opened with more than $30 million. Her latest effort is her worst since the $3.5 million bow of her Christmas 2005 romantic comedy "Rumor Has It."
"Jennifer's Body," a horror-comedy starring Fox as a cannibalistic high-school girl, followed at No. 5 with $6.8 million. It had been expected to open at No. 2 in the mid-teen range. The $16 million film was released by 20th Century Fox, a unit of News Corp.
Last weekend's champ, Tyler Perry's "I Can Do Bad All By Myself," claimed the No. 3 spot with $10.1 million. Its 10-day haul stands at $37.9 million. The film was released by Lionsgate, a unit of Lions Gate Entertainment Corp.
(Editing by Todd Eastham)