Tom’s wake bruises cruise

'MI3' tops 'Poseidon'

A weak $20.3 million opening for “Poseidon” was grim news for Warner Bros., which will have to count on foreign grosses to avoid a financial bath on the $150 million-plus remake.

“Mission: Impossible III” took first place very comfortably with $24.5 million. While a 49% second-weekend drop wasn’t awful, it ended Par’s hopes that good reviews and word of mouth would lead to a stronger-than-average hold after pic’s weak $47.7 million bow.

Frame’s other wide openers — “Just My Luck,” “Goal!” and “Art School Confidential” — all disappointed as well, leading to a 6% decline in the overall market, the first drop in eight weeks.

Total gross was the smallest of any frame since Dec. 2.

“Poseidon,” which Warner co-financed with Virtual Studios, opened at 3,555 theaters and averaged $5,717 per play.

Soft tracking had some industryites expecting an opening in the teens, giving Warner reason to be glad that the opening wasn’t as big a disaster as it might have feared.

Wolfgang Petersen’s last pic, “Troy,” opened to $46.9 million in 2004. It went on to cume $133 million but was a bigger hit overseas, where it took in $365 million.

“We hoped for a much stronger opening, but it’s premature to assess the financial liability when you consider that more kids are getting out of school in the next few weeks and how well ‘Troy’ did overseas,” noted WB distrib prexy Dan Fellman.

“Poseidon” played softly in all demos, with auds almost evenly split between men and women and those under and over 30.

Only positive sign for the remake came on Imax screens, where pic averaged a healthy $22,700 on 62 screens; $1.4 million take was 7% of the total gross on fewer than 2% of the playdates.

“MI3” averaged $6,039 at 4,059 playdates and brought its total take to $84.6 million. On its current trajectory, Tom Cruise starrer looks likely to end up behind even the original “Impossible” pic, which cumed $181 million domestic in 1996.

“Given how wide we went, I think 49% is a really good drop, and we’re in great shape as we head into Memorial Day and the summer,” commented Par distrib and marketing topper Rob Moore.

Both pics will face a major challenge next weekend, when “The Da Vinci Code” is expected to dominate with adult moviegoers, while “Over the Hedge” should draw families.

Fox and Regency’s “Just My Luck” drew girls and virtually nobody else as it bowed to just $5.5 million –the lowest opening ever for a Lindsay Lohan starrer. Playing 2,541 locations, the average take was $2,165.

Disney’s strategy of opening Latino soccer movie “Goal!” wide in the summer proved ineffective, as it grossed a dismal $2 million, outside the top 10. Pic averaged $1,989 at 1,007 playdates.

Sony Pictures Classics took “Art School Confidential” wide in only its second week and managed to gross just $1.2 million at 762 theaters. Per play average was $1,593; cume is $1.4 million.

The only studio with something to crow about this frame was Sony, whose “RV” continues to hold extremely well. In its third weekend, Robin Williams starrer fell a minuscule 14%, putting it at No. 3 with $9.5 million. Average take was $2,687 at 3,555 theaters. With $42.8 million already, “RV” could come close to quadrupling its opening gross of $16.4 million.

In limited release, Miramax opened “Keeping Up With the Steins” at 138 theaters and did a so-so $621,000, or $4,500 per play. SPC opened docu “Sketches of Frank Gehry” at two theaters and grossed $17,426.

Roadside and Samuel Goldwyn opened “Wah-Wah,” about the end of colonialism in Swaziland, to a weak $56,750 at 25 theaters. Per-play take was only $2,270.

ThinkFilm expanded San Fernando Valley-set Western “Down in the Valley” from three to 15 playdates and grossed a so-so $63,170, or $4,211 per theater. Cume is now $98,265. Edward Norton starrer is playing Gotham, L.A., Boston and Washington, D.C., and expands to the rest of the top 10 markets Friday.

“The Proposition” expanded from three to eight theaters and grossed $45,600, or $5,700 per play, for First Look. Cume for the Australian drama is $98,759.

Fox Searchlight nearly doubled print count of “Water” to 62 and did decent business, grossing $256,562, or $4,138 per play. Cume is $592,156. Indian-themed pic expands to around 90 plays on Friday.

IFC continued its series of theatrical/video-on-demand simultaneous releases with “Russian Dolls” and did a so-so $17,741 at three theaters. Per-play take was $5,913 and cume since its Wednesday opening is $21,863.

Overall box office lead for 2006 over 2005 is now 5%, according to Nielsen EDI.

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