Screen Gems film takes in $22 million

Sony and Screen Gems stomped on skeptics as their pic “Stomp the Yard,” grossed $22 million over the three-day frame, knocking 20th Century Fox’s “Night at The Museum” from the top spot for the first time in four weeks.

Set in the world of “stepping” competitions between black fraternities, pic was driven by a largely African-American aud that skewed female and over 18. Pic bowed at 2,051 theaters

“It’s a big win for us,” said Sony distrib chief Rory Bruer.

Fox’s Ben Stiller laffer “Night at the Museum” came in at No. 2 with $17.1 million, pushing its cume to $185.8 million after four weeks in release.

Paramount and DreamWorks’ “Dreamgirls” — which has been courting an aud similar to those who took in “Stomp” over the weekend — added 1,055 new dates for a total run of 1,907. Pic landed in fourth place, grossing $8.1 million — off 6% from last weekend — and boosting its cume to $65 million, a figure Par expects to grow as the awards season continues.

The frame’s other fresh titles finished farther down the chart. Universal’s “Alpha Dog,” which stars Justin Timberlake in the tale of a kidnapping gone wrong, opened to $6.1 million at 1,289 theaters, which put it in seventh place. Disney’s “Primeval” bowed just behind it in the No. 8 slot with $6.0 million from 2,444 playdates.

Meanwhile, the Weinstein Co.’s Luc Besson toon “Arthur and the Invisibles” launched in its first week of wide release with $4.3 million from 2,247 locations, putting in the 9th spot.

“With a combination of animation and live-action, ‘Arthur’ is a concept that American family audiences aren’t really used to,” said Harvey Weinstein. “We are off to a slow start but, the exit polls are strong.”

Holdovers rounded out the top 10.

In third place was Sony’s “The Pursuit of Happyness,” which took in another $9.1 million over the frame, lifting its cume to $136.5 million.

Par’s “Freedom Writers,” which added 819 locations for its sophomore sesh, dropped 24% to $7.1 million, bringing its cume to $18.4 million.

At No. 6, U’s “Children of Men” continued to gain steam in its second weekend of wide release, bringing in $6.4 million from 1,508 theaters, off 37% from last weekend.

Landing at No. 10 was U’s “The Good Shepherd,” which took in $3.9 million in its fourth frame, bringing cume to $54.9 million.

While Sony’s “Casino Royale” finished out of the top 10, pic achieved the biggest domestic gross for a James Bond title. Its $1.8 million three-day gross lifted its cume to $162.5 million, surpassing 2002′s “Die Another Day’s” $160.9 million.

Sony announced Sunday that it’s donating 2.5% of the opening-weekend gross to the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Foundation.

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