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‘Mean’ wins clean

Par laffer takes $25 mil to lead femme-fueled B.O. frame

This article was updated at 2:51 p.m.

For a second week in a row, box office was femme-fed, led by a surprisingly strong bow for Paramount’s “Mean Girls,” which grossed an estimated $25 million in its first three days.

In the last frame before Hollywood starts to unload its summer blockbusters meant to attract hordes of boys (“Van Helsing” opens next week, followed by “Troy” the week after), “Girls'” better-than-expected opening led a box office chart whose top four films had a wide appeal to women.

Twentieth Century Fox’s and New Regency “Man on Fire,” the actioner that has played well with adult women, picked up $15.2 million in its sophomore session, declining just 33% from last weekend.

In third place, Revolution and Sony’s “13 Going on 30” picked up $10 million in its second week, a slump of 53%.

Rounding out the top four, New Line’s “Laws of Attraction,” a romantic comedy starring Julianne Moore and Pierce Brosnan that targets adult women, opened to $7 million, lower than the studio had hoped.

Par’s distrib prexy Wayne Lewellen said the success of “Girls,” starring Lindsay Lohan and scripted by “Saturday Night Live’s” Tina Fey, demonstrated the B.O. clout of young women. In studio exit polls, 75% of the aud was female, 50% under the age of 18.

“It shows there’s tremendous strength in that market,” Lewellen said. “What put it over the top is that it ended up appealing to older female audiences as well.” Lewellen also credited an extensive program of college screenings with building positive word of mouth for the pic.

No. 4 April opener

The $25 million bow for “Mean Girls” was the fourth biggest April opening, closely following “Kill Bill Vol. 2’s” $25.1 million. The top two spots on that list are taken by pics that played broadly, including last year’s “Anger Management,” which opened with $42.2 million, and “The Scorpion King,” which unfurled in 2002 with $36.1 million.

Capping off a relatively strong April, “Girls” is the fifth pic to open with more than $20 million this month. The last time more than one picture opened in April above $20 million was in 1999, when the Eddie Murphy-Martin Lawrence laffer “Life” debuted with $20.4 million and the Sean Connery/Catherine Zeta-Jones thriller “Entrapment” posted $20.1 million in its first frame.

“Girls” dominated the femme market where two other pics, “13 Going on 30” and “Laws of Attraction,” were looking for an aud.

Sony distrib prexy Rory Bruer said the 53% drop for “13” was to be expected after “opening as big as it did.” He also pointed to the pic’s two-week cume of $35.2 million as very satisfactory for a pic budgeted at $37 million.

New Line distrib prexy David Tuckerman said “Laws” was aimed squarely at women over 25. “It was a one-quadrant film and our quadrant didn’t come,” he said. “We were looking for it to be a date movie, and we went up almost 30% on Saturday, but our Friday number was pretty low.”

Holding ‘Fire’

After opening last week with an audience that was 55% female, “Man on Fire,” Fox distrib prexy Bruce Snyder said the studio was happy to hold onto two-thirds of its opening gross. “It’s a great hold for a second week,” he said. “Man’s” $15.2 million weekend boosted its cume to $44.5 million.

Lions Gate was pleased with “Godsend’s” $6.9 million for its opening weekend. The thriller starring Greg Kinnear, Rebecca Romijn-Stamos and Robert De Niro was made for less than $25 million. “It’s going to be a very profitable movie for us,” said Steve Rothenberg, exec VP, distribution, Lions Gate.

As expected, “Envy,” DreamWorks’ Jack Black/Ben Stiller laffer involving disappearing doggy-doo — which was on the shelf for more than a year — did not make much of a dent at the box office, opening to just $6.1 million at 2,445 locations.

‘Jones’ under par

The weekend’s other wide opener, “Bobby Jones: Stroke of Genius,” from fledgling Film Foundry picked up just $1.4 million from 1,332 playdates. Pic’s star, Jim Caviezel, has won wide exposure thanks to “The Passion of the Christ,” but golfer biopic suffered from low awareness, according to tracking numbers coming into the weekend.

Overall, Nielsen EDI estimated the weekend’s total box office at $102 million, down a steep 33.6 % from the same weekend last year. But this frame last year featured the opening of “X2: X-Men United,” which pulled in $85.6 million.

However, the year-to-date B.O. tally of $2.625 billion is running 5.4% ahead of last year’s figure, which stood at $2.491 billion at this point.

Among exclusives, IFC Films’ “The Saddest Music in the World,” helmer Guy Maddin’s eccentric tale about a Depression-era contest to find the world’s saddest music, did impressive business in its first week, picking up $17,854 from a single engagement at Gotham’s Sunshine. Pic expands to L.A. and Boston next week.

Thinkfilm’s Haitian activist doc “The Agronomist” expanded to 21 screens, grossing $42,568 for the three days, a per-screen average of $2,027 and a cume of $86,300.

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