The latest DreamWorks Animation family spectacle debuted top of the North American charts on an estimated $44.7m through Fox, followed by an impressive $30.5m launch through FilmDistrict for the Gerard Butler action thriller Olympus Has Fallen.

The table-topping release for The Croods marked the first collaboration between DreamWorks Animation and Fox. Based on gloomy reports by Wall Street analysts last week, this mid-$40m launch is the very least The Croods needed to score to keep the wolves from the door in light of the poor box office performance by Rise Of The Guardians.

FilmDistrict recorded its biggest ever launch thanks to audience interest in Olympus Has Fallen, a high-octane tale about an attack on the White House. Antoine Fuqua directed.

Focus Features opened the Tina Fey-Paul Rudd rom-com Admission in fifth place on a serviceable $6.4m.

The biggest surge of the session came courtesy of New York-based fledgling distributor A24 on the back of the great limited debut for Spring Breakers last week. A24 expanded Harmony Korine’s film from three to 1,104 sites, sparking a 19-rung climb to number six as $5m boosted the running total to $5.4m after two weekends.

Overall business for the top 12 gained 37.1% on the previous session but it fell approximately 35% against the comparable session in 2012 when The Hunger Games opened on $152.5m to set a March record.

Freestyle Releasing opened InAPPropriate Comedy on $172,000 from 275 sites and The Weinsteins opened The Sapphires on $40,900 from four. IFC launched 2012 festival hit Gimme The Loot on a mighty $23,400 from a single New York site, while eOne Films US opened the French-Canadian hit Starbuck in three theatres for $16,400.

Next weekend’s wide releases are Paramount’s G.I. Joe: Retaliation starring Dwayne Johnson and Channing Tatum; The Host starring Saoirse Ronan through Open Road; and Lionsgate’s Tyler Perry’s Temptation: Confessions Of A Marriage Counselor.

Estimated Top 10 North America Mar 22-24 2012
Film (Dist) / Est wkd gross / Est total to date

1 (-) The Croods (DreamWorks Animation-Fox) Fox Int’l $44.7m –

2 (-) Olympus Has Fallen (FilmDistrict) Nu Image $30.5m –

3 (1) Oz The Great And Powerful (Buena Vista) WDSMPI $22m $177.6m

4 (2) The Call (TriStar) Sierra/Affinity $8.7m $30.9m

5 (-) Admission (Focus Features) FFI $6.4m –

6 (27) Spring Breakers (A24) Kinology $5m $5.4m

7 (3) The Incredible Burt Wonderstone (Warner Bros) WBPI $4.3m $17.4m

8 (4) Jack The Giant Slayer (Warner Bros) WBPI $2.9m $59.1m

9 (5) Identity Thief (Universal) UPI $2.5m $127.7m

10 (6) Snitch (Summit Entertainment) Exclusive Media $1.9m $40.3m

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