'Fantastic Four' takes in $57.4 million

Fox’s “Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer” easily crested to No. 1 over the weekend with $57.4 million in tickets sales, according to estimates.

That outpaced the $56 million the first “Fantastic” pic debuted with in 2005, contradicting tracking data that suggested the latest in the Marvel superhero series wouldn’t be able to meet its predecessor’s opening weekend.

In a summer full of socko sequels, pic even picked up a record of its own as the largest Father’s Day weekend opener of all time, according to Nielsen EDI.

Weekend’s other new wide release, Warner Bros.’ “Nancy Drew,” had less of a clue, however, debuting at No. 7 with $7.1 million. “Nancy” budget was around $20 million.

Warners brass said the pic — which was playing essentially to one quadrant, young girls — should be able to pick up as kids on vacation come out.

Fox went aggressively into 3,959 locations with “Silver Surfer,” which helped B.O. overall spike. According to Rentrak, the top 10 pics over the frame com-bined for $136.8 million, up from $129.4 million a week ago.

But even so, B.O. from the top 10 couldn’t match the $139.8 million reaped over the same weekend a year ago when Disney’s “Cars” was in the winner’s circle.

In No. 2 was Warner Bros.’ holdover “Ocean’s Thirteen,” which dipped 47% and rolled an additional $19.2 million to bring its cume to $69.8 million.

That pulled the starry ensemble pic ahead of “Ocean’s Twelve” at the same point in play, when it had grabbed $68.5 million in 2005.

Warner Bros. distribution topper Dan Fellman said the pic had been benefiting from midweek biz after its first weekend.

No. 3 pic was Universal’s “Knocked Up,” which dropped a soft 26% to bring cume on the laffer to $90 million.

Pic is one of the successful pics with a mid-level budget this summer to go up against the big boys.

Further down on the charts, Sony’s CG family pic “Surf’s Up” slid a spot to fifth, dropping 47% in biz. Pic has cumed $34 million in two frames as a lukewarm entry for Sony’s animation division.

“Surf’s,” about a penguin who hangs 10, has been having some trouble in the marketplace with two other family behemoths in “Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End” and “Shrek the Third,” which is now bearing down on the $300 million mark.

“Surf’s” was bested by Disney’s “Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End,” which brought its cume to $273.7 million. But the No. 4-ranked “Pirates” was still lagging well behind the last pic in the series, “Dead Man’s Chest,” which had taken in $358.4 million at the same point in domestic release.

Paramount and DreamWorks Animation’s “Shrek” came in one slot after “Surf’s,” losing out by a little more than $300,000. Latest “Shrek” has cumed $297.2 million. Last “Shrek” pic had hit more than $350 million at the same point in release.

Away from the family pics, summer looked like a punishing time for horror as Lionsgate’s “Hostel: Part II” dropped 63% in its second frame.

Pic has cumed $14.1 million in two weekends. That’s well under the more than $19 million generated in the first frame by director Eli Roth’s first “Hostel.”

In other action, Sony’s “Spider-Man 3″ was swinging at No. 10. Pic has caught $330 million domestically after seven weekends.

Last “Spider” ended up with $373.5 million domestically in 2004.

MGM’s “Mr. Brooks” fell to No. 9. Pic has cumed $23.4 million in three frames.

In limited release, Picturehouse brought its Edith Piaf biopic “La Vie en rose” to No. 12 on just 78 screens. Pic’s cume is $2.8 million.

Miramax’s quirky Kiwi import “Eagle vs. Shark” snapped up $21,000 from three locations.

The Weinstein Co.’s “DOA: Dead or Alive” went for a regional release in just 505 theaters and kicked just $232,000. Vidgame pic had been looked at primar-ily as a DVD rollout.

Fox Searchlight’s “Waitress” fell out of the top 10 to No. 11. Playing 615 screens, pic has cumed $14 million.

Studio subsid’s romantic musical “Once” hit a cume of almost $2.5 million by having biz pick up by 9% in its fifth weekend of release on 120 screens.

Back at No. 1, Fox distribution exec Chris Aronson said Sunday the second “Fantastic” pic played beyond the studio’s expectations by engaging a broader demo than was indicated by tracking numbers. Tracking data had suggested the pic would play better with males than females, but the outcome was more bal-anced.

Studio brass also said they’re now exploring their options for a third film in the series.

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