Comedy combat at the box office

'Hairspray,' 'Chuck and Larry' both opening

New Line’s “Hairspray” will try to outlaugh Universal comedy “I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry” this weekend, though Warner Bros. is hoping “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix” can retain the No. 1 crown in its second frame.

“Chuck and Larry,” toplining Adam Sandler and Kevin James, opens in 3,495 theaters. “Hairspray,” based on the John Waters musical, bows in 3,121.

Warners will still enjoy plenty of magic with the fifth film in the lucrative “Harry Potter” franchise, still at 4,285 locations.

Still, Sandler has always had good luck with summer laffers. “Click” opened at $40 million last summer; “The Longest Yard” opened at $47.6 million in May 2005.

“Chuck and Larry” and “Hairspray” are the only two wide openers.

Limited releases include Milos Forman’s “Goya’s Ghosts,” which Samuel Goldwyn Films opens in 49 locations in select markets.

Fox Searchlight bows sci-fi thriller “Sunshine” in 10 locations, while Magnolia opens dramedy “Cashback” in nine.

DreamWorks-Paramount tentpole “Transformers” heads into its third frame with a domestic cume of more than $240 million as of Wednesday.

“Phoenix” grossed more than $168 million domestically as of Wednesday, and another $254 million overseas since first unspooling July 11. With an opening weekend take of $77.1 million, even a 50% drop would put it at $39 million in its second weekend.

“Harry Potter” pic has enjoyed strong weekday numbers, making $10.4 million Monday, another $9.1 million Tuesday and $8.4 million Wednesday.

Foreign front

Overseas, “Phoenix” should dominate for the second weekend. Pic has also conjured up impressive weekday box office magic internationally — $21.5 million on Monday, $20.5 million Tuesday and $19 million Wednesday.

The U.K. has led the way with $44 million, followed by Germany with $25 million, France with $22.2 million and Australia with $17.6 million.

“Transformers” will lead the rest of the pack as it expands into Latin America this weekend after taking $160 million overseas through Wednesday, led by $41.6 million in South Korea. It still hasn’t opened in France, Germany or the U.K.

Paramount’s other tentpole, “Shrek the Third,” will remain a draw. It’s taken $369 million overseas as of Wednesday, led by $64 million in the U.K.

“Hairspray” will go day-and-date in the U.K., but Universal’s holding off on “Chuck and Larry” until the following weekend with launches in Greece, Holland and Taiwan before gradually expanding in August. U’s following the same strategy with “Knocked Up,” which opens in New Zealand.

Other openings include “Live Free or Die Hard” in South Korea and Taiwan, “Blades of Glory” in Poland and Spain and “Reno 911!: Miami” in France and Scandinavia.

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