‘Caribbean’ heat

New laffers left chasing swashbucklers

“Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest” continued its record-setting assault on the box office, scoring the biggest ever 10-day gross as its cume hit $258.2 million.

Pic declined 54% in its second frame — typical after a huge bow –but still grossed an impressive $62.2 million, to retain the top spot at the B.O.

Repping one of the few records it hasn’t broken, weekend take was “only” the third-biggest second weekend ever, behind “Shrek 2’s” $72.1 million in 2004 and “Spider-Man’s” $71.4 in 2002.

Among the weekend openers, “Little Man” had the edge, bowing to a solid $21.7 million vs. $21.3 million for “You, Me and Dupree.”

For the first time in eight weeks, weekend was down slightly from a year ago, when “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” and “Wedding Crashers” both had strong bows. But thanks to boffo weekdays for “Pirates,” 2006’s box office lead over 2005 rose from 5% last weekend to 6% as of Sunday, according to Nielsen EDI.

“Dead Man’s Chest” took its biggest drop Friday, declining 67% in part due to the midnight showings last week. Saturday and Sunday drops were in the 40s percentage-wise.

Overall the 54% decline was average for the second weekend after a boffo summer bow, bigger than the two “Spider-Man” pics, “Star Wars: Episode III — Revenge of the Sith” or “Shrek 2,” but smaller than “X-Men: The Last Stand,” “The Matrix Reloaded” or “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.”

Disney distribution prexy Chuck Viane said declines were consistent across markets and showtimes, indicating “Dead Man’s Chest” isn’t holding particularly better with any one audience segment.

“We’re as strong in the matinees as we are in the evenings,” he noted. “You don’t get to $62 million without being consistent.”

If the theme park adaptation continues to drop about 50% per week, it should pass the $305 million cume of the original “Pirates” by next weekend and end up with a final tally of around $400 million.

U’s “Dupree” is the first comedy with Owen Wilson as its primary star. Bow was well short of the two films he co-starred in with Vince Vaughn — “Starsky & Hutch” and “Wedding Crashers” — but ahead of thesp’s other efforts, such as “Shanghai Knights” and “I Spy.”

Pic did best with young women, as 58% of auds were under 30 and female.

Sony and Revolution’s Wayans Brothers comedy beat “Dupree” despite playing at about 600 fewer locations, in part due to higher ticket prices in urban markets where it did better.

It’s the second biggest opening for the Wayans Bros., behind only the original “Scary Movie” and slightly ahead of 2004’s “White Chicks,” their last comedy, which bowed to $19.7 million.

“The exit polls were terrific, and I expect the word of mouth to be really strong,” said Sony distribution prexy Rory Bruer.

“Little Man” auds also tilted toward young women, though less white than “Dupree.”

After taking a big hit vs. the “Pirates” bow last weekend, “Superman Returns” declined a healthier 47% this weekend, grossing $11.6 million and bringing its cume to a so-so $163.6 million. WB’s big-budget tentpole looks likely to top out domestically short of $200 million.

It continues to be outshone by Fox’s female counterprogrammer from the same weekend, “The Devil Wears Prada,” which dropped only 30%. The Meryl Streep starrer grossed $10.5 million and has a total take of $83.5 million.

“Cars” also continues to show very strong legs, dropping only 30% and bringing its cume to $219.7 million, ahead of “Monsters, Inc.” and “Toy Story 2” at the same point but slightly behind “The Incredibles” and well behind “Finding Nemo,” Pixar’s last summer release. Disney’s toon probably will slow down in the next few weeks as several animated features are released.

In limited release, Warner Independent expanded “A Scanner Darkly” from 17 to 216 theaters and grossed a decent $1.2 million, or $5,485 per play. Cume for the animated adaptation of the Philip K. Dick novel is $1.8 million.

First Independent bowed its adaptation of the David Mamet play “Edmond” to a solid $22,000 at two theaters in Gotham. Indie had less luck with “Mini’s First Time,” which grossed only $24,500 at seven theaters, or $3,500 per play.

Bauer Martinez released the newest Ed Burns pic, “The Groomsmen,” to a so-so $27,140 at three playdates in Gotham and L.A., averaging $9,047.

“Strangers With Candy” did decent business as ThinkFilm expanded it from 58 to 79 theaters and grossed $362,560, or $4,589 per play. Cume is $791,900. Miramax’s soccer docu “Once in a Lifetime” expanded from one to five plays and grossed a modest $19,800, or $3,961 per location.

“Who Killed the Electric Car?” grew from 19 to 48 playdates and took a soft $121,391 for Sony Pictures Classics, averaging $2,529. Cume for the docu is $323,328.

IFC released French import “Gabrielle” at two theaters in New York and grossed a solid $31,100, or $15,550 per play.

Cyan Films didn’t report a gross for sexy comedy “The Oh in Ohio,” but competitors pegged it at $60,400 in 14 locations, or a weak $4,314 per play.

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