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Kick-Ass and Dragon in photo finish at US box office | Jeremy Kay

As How to Train Your Dragon edged past new entry Kick-Ass to reclaim the US top spot, the movie industry braces for a proposed film futures exchange

The winner
How to Train Your Dragon has benefited from strong word of mouth since it launched one month ago and the family film returned to the top of the US pile at the weekend. The estimated $20m (£13m) haul puts DreamWorks Animation's acclaimed release (through Paramount) on $158.6m and a strong overseas run means the film has grossed more than $330m globally.

In the second photo finish in two weekends, the top two films were separated by only a very small amount. Lionsgate unleashed the action hero romp Kick-Ass and it came in second on a relatively lacklustre $19.8m. Only $200,000 behind Dragon, Kick-Ass may steal top place when box-office numbers are confirmed on Monday. In limited release, Banksy's Exit Through the Gift Shop opened in eight venues, taking $166,000 for an excellent per-site average of $20,750.

The loser
Death at a Funeral opened in fourth place on $17m, and on that showing, on top of the generally low review rating on the aggregator site Rotten Tomatoes, it's going to struggle to stick around. Based on the bland original of 2007 and repackaged with Chris Rock and Martin Lawrence, this is a cynical commercial ploy designed to entice the African-American crowd and make money on a good premise. I saw it on Saturday and it's a shame it turned out the way it did. Provide your own funeral jokes.

The real story
On Friday the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) approved the establishment of a futures exchange to trade in box-office opening weekends. This has caused something of a ruckus at the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) and elsewhere. They fear the mechanism, which will be called the Trend Exchange, will lead to market manipulation and shorting by studios on their own movies. The last thing anybody needs, the head of the MPAA Bob Pisano told me last week, is another derivatives market when it was these same financial devices that got everybody into the financial crisis. Media Derivatives Inc and Cantor Exchange, the parties behind two separate proposals for exchanges, say they will be strictly regulated and will allow studios, for example, to mitigate their risks in releasing movies. The CFTC approved an application by Media Derivatives on Friday and will adjudicate on a second submission, by Cantor Exchange, on Tuesday. Meanwhile US law-makers have tabled a motion to outlaw online futures exchanges based on box-office receipts.

The future
Jennifer Lopez has never been anything like as big in film as she is in music in the US, yet she keeps on plugging away. She returns for the first time in four years with a romcom from CBS Films called The Back-Up Plan; Alex O'Loughlin is the gutsy leading man. Warner Bros has the action film The Losers, starring Zoe Saldana from Avatar, in the tale of a betrayed CIA black ops unit. Disney releases the nature documentary Oceans.

North American top 10, 16-18 April
1. How to Train Your Dragon, $20m. Total: $158.6m
2. Kick-Ass, $19.8m
3. Date Night, $17.3m. Total: $49.2m
4. Death at a Funeral, $17.4m
5. Clash of the Titans, $15.8m. Total: $132.9m
6. The Last Song, $5.8m. Total: $50m
7. Tyler Perry's Why Did I Get Married Too? $4.2m. Total: $54.9m
8. Hot Tub Time Machine, $3.5m. Total: $42.5m
9. Alice in Wonderland, $3.5m. Total: $324m
10. The Bounty Hunter, $3.2m. Total: $60.4m © Guardian News & Media Limited 2010 | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds

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