By John Young
Updated April 23, 2011 at 07:21 PM EDT

For all its G-rated wholesomeness, Rio just gave Tyler Perry the bird. The animated avian film Rio pulled off a surprise victory on Friday, grossing $10.8 million according to early estimates. That’s a 4 percent jump from when the Fox movie debuted last Friday — a boost that can be attributed to the fact that most kids had school off yesterday. At this pace, the $90 million Rio should finish the weekend in first place with $27 million, lifting its two-week total past $81 million.

Madea’s Big Happy Family, from director-writer-producer-actor Tyler Perry, performed a tad below expectations, but still posted a solid $10.6 million on Friday. That puts the PG-13 comedy on track to finish the weekend just behind Rio with $26 million. Big Happy Family fell short of the last film to feature the name of Madea, Perry’s iconic grandmother character, in its title — 2009’s Madea Goes to Jail rang up $14.7 million its first day. Still, Big Happy Family cost Perry only $25 million to produce, and when you’re able to crank out two pictures per year, it’s hard to complain about earning back your budget on opening weekend.

In third, the new romantic drama Water for Elephants, based on Sara Gruen’s bestselling novel, earned $7 million on Friday. The PG-13 movie, starring Robert Pattinson, Reese Witherspoon, and a 9,200-pound diva named Tai, is headed for a respectable weekend tally of $17 million.

Easter weekend has put some spring back into Hop‘s step, as the Easter Bunny comedy rose an astounding 109 percent from last Friday to collect $4.9 million. It’ll earn around $12 million for the weekend. In fifth was Disneynature’s third consecutive Earth Day documentary, African Cats, which pounced on $3.3 million from 1,220 theaters. That’s right in between the opening days of 2009’s Earth ($4 million) and last year’s Oceans ($2.5 million). Cats should claw out $7.5 million by Sunday night. And Scream 4, like many horror films before it, dropped a steep 67 percent for $2.8 million. Check back here tomorrow for the complete box office report.

1. Rio — $10.8 mil

2. Madea’s Big Happy Family — $10.6 mil

3. Water for Elephants — $7.0 mil

4. Hop — $4.9 mil

5. African Cats — $3.3 mil

6. Scream 4 — $2.8 mil

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