Martial arts film opens ahead of 'Sarah Marshall'

Lionsgate and the Weinstein Co.’s Jet Li-Jackie Chan starrer “The Forbidden Kingdom” opened No. 1 at the Friday box office, ahead of Universal’s risque romantic comedy “Forgetting Sarah Marshall.”

Helped by its PG-13 rating, “Forbidden Kingdom” grossed an estimated $7.6 million from 3,151 theaters. It is the first time Li and Chan have appeared together on the bigscreen.

The R-Rated “Sarah Marshall,” produced by Judd Apatow, slotted second with an estimated $5.9 million at 2,798.

Among Apatow productions, “Marshall’s” opening day bests those posted by recent box office misfires “Drillbit Taylor” ($4.1 million) and “Walk Hard” ($1.5 million), but is lower than his string of R-rated rom com hits “Superbad” ($12.3 million), “Knocked Up” ($9.8 million) and “The 40-Year-Old Virgin” ($7.1 million).

“Forbidden Kingdom” marks the eighth wide release in a row that Lionsgate has opened No. 1 or No. 2. Lionsgate is domestic distrib. Film was financed by Relativity Media and TWC’s Asian Film Fund. It was produced by Casey Silver.

Two films could end up in a close race for the weekend crowd. Overall, Friday’s B.O. signaled that the weekend should end up ahead of the same frame last year, welcome news for the film biz.

Last weekend’s No. 1 opener, Sony’s “Prom Night” took third with $3.5 million off 2,700, a 64% decline in its second Friday, bringing its eight-day cume to $26.9 million.

In its first day of release, Sony-TriStar’s Al Pacino headliner “88 Minutes” counted $2.3 million in fourth from 2,168.

“21,” also distributed by Sony, ranked fifth in its fourth Friday, grossing $1.8 million from 2,903, down 46%, for a running cume of $66.3 million.

Among specialty fare, a number of docs unspooled Friday led by Rocky Mountain Pictures’ “Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed” which generated $1.2 million from 1,052. Morgan Spurlock’s “Where in the World Is Osama Bin Laden?” distributed by the Weinstein Co., drew $44,400 at 102 locales while Koch Lorber’s “Glass: A Portrait of Philip in 12 Parts” about the famed composer nabbed $1,700 from one screen in New York.

Fox Searchlight’s “Young@Heart” generated $40,100 in its second Friday, a 208% jump from a week ago, thanks to an uptick in the doc’s theater count from four to 33. To date, the doc’s current domestic cume stands over $121,000.

MGM-Lakeshore thriller “Pathology” about medical interns who commit the perfect murder charted $19,000 from 46 theaters on its first day.

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