"Green Hornet" flies high at box office (Reuters)

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LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - "The Green Hornet" flew into the top spot at the weekend box office in North America on Sunday despite bad critical buzz for the 3-D superhero comic-book adaptation.

The picture sold about $34 million worth of tickets during the three days beginning Friday, said its distributor, Columbia Pictures. The opening was in line with expectations and it ranks as the third-best start for a new release in January, according to the Sony Corp unit.

Seth Rogen stars as the titular vigilante, aided in his crime-fighting efforts by Kato (played by Taiwanese actor Jay Chou). French filmmaker Michel Gondry directed. Critics were largely negative toward the film with the Wall Street Journal calling it an "atrocity."

But Columbia said exit polls indicated the film clicked with its audience, of whom men accounted for 61 percent.

"I think audiences are absolutely the best critics," said Rory Bruer, Columbia's president of worldwide distribution.

Universal Pictures' new comedy-drama "The Dilemma," starring Vince Vaughn and Kevin James, followed at No. 2 with $17.1 million, also in line with mild expectations.

Last weekend's champion, the Coen brothers' Western remake "True Grit," fell to No. 3 with $11.2 million. After four weeks, Paramount Pictures' awards contender has earned $126.4 million.

The film was followed by two others seeking Oscar glory. The Weinstein Co's royals drama "The King's Speech" jumped five places to No. 4 with $9.1 million, while Fox Searchlight's sapphic ballerina melodrama "Black Swan" was steady at No. 5 with $8.1 million. Their respective totals stand at $44.6 million and $73 million.

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