Fox's sci-fi adventure opens strong

Twentieth Century Fox and New Regency’s sci-fi adventure “Jumper” leapt into the lead at the Presidents Day box office, grossing an estimated $31.7 million from 3,428 runs over the long holiday weekend.

Cume is $38.3 million since its Valentine’s Day debut.

“Jumper,” directed by Doug Liman, also saw a strong overseas debut, coming in at No. 1 with an estimated $28.2 million from its initial rollout in 30 markets, including a $6.2 million launch in the U.K.

Coming in second domestically was Paramount/Nick Movies’ family fantasy “The Spiderwick Chronicles,” which grossed an estimated $24.5 million from 3,847 runs; cume is $26.7 million, according to Rentrak.

“Jumper” and “Spiderwick” — as well as Disney’s “Step Up 2 the Streets” and Universal/Working Title’s romancer “Definitely, Maybe” — all bowed Thursday, looking to capitalize on Valentine’s Day and rack up extra coin before heading into the crowded Presidents Day frame.

“Step Up 2,” co-produced with Summit Entertainment, was a surprisingly strong dancer, grossing $21.5 million from 2,470 runs for a cume of $28.1 million, putting it ahead of “Spiderwick” for the five days.

The holiday weekend’s other frosh entry, “Definitely, Maybe,” couldn’t beat out Warner Bros. holdover “Fool’s Gold”; latter placed No. 4 for the frame, declining 30% to an estimated $15 million from 3,125 in its second sesh for a cume of $44 million. Coming in at No. 5, “Definitely” grossed an estimated $11.4 million from 2,204 for a five-day cume of $14.5 million.

Both “Jumper” and “Spiderwick” could spawn sequels for their respective studios.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if we came in this week and talked about a sequel or a trilogy,” said Fox senior VP of distribution Bert Livingston.

Par was more cautious.

“We need to see how ‘Spiderwick’ plays out, and what the movie’s legs are like, as well as how it does internationally,” said Paramount vice chair Rob Moore. “A month from now we’ll be in a good position to assess how the movie is playing worldwide.”

While Presidents Day weekend saw solid results, the frame was down by as much as 11% vs. 2007, although year-to-date is still up by healthy margins. Nicolas Cage starrer “Ghost Rider” led last year’s Presidents Day weekend, grossing $52 million in the best opening ever for the holiday.

“Jumper” scored the fourth highest opening ever for Presidents Day weekend, a notable accomplishment considering that the film, based on a book by Steven Gould, doesn’t sport major stars. Cast includes Hayden Christensen, Samuel L. Jackson and Rachel Bilson.

As predicted, the pic was a favorite among younger moviegoers. According to Fox, 65% of the aud was under 25; 52% were males.

Tailoring the movie for the target demo, Fox cut Liman’s longer edit down to around 84 minutes, excluding credits.

Both Fox and Disney have been prospering at the box office by acutely focusing on their audience and delivering product that works. For the most part, both studios try to keep production budgets lean.

That wasn’t the case with “Jumper,” however, which cost roughly $85 million for Fox and Regency to produce.

“Spiderwick,” too, was on the pricier side, costing upward of $90 million to produce.

Helmed by Mark Waters, who hadn’t directed an f/x-driven movie before, “Spiderwick” is based on the bestselling book series and stars Freddie Highmore playing twins. The movie, not necessarily intended for kids younger than 8, drew strong exits polls and reviews. Families made up 80% of the audience.

Family films can have especially strong legs when word of mouth is good — and there isn’t another family title until Fox bows “Horton Hears a Who!” on March 13.

Of “Spiderwick’s” total opening gross, $1.9 million came from Imax theaters. That’s a boon for Imax, which has never had a big-event pic unspool in February.

Compared to the competish, “Spiderwick” had an obvious disadvantage on Valentine’s Day in that its target aud wasn’t anywhere to be found. Disney was the first to stake out Feb. 14 as opening day for “Step Up 2,” followed a day later by “Definitely, Maybe.” Fox and Par then moved from Feb. 15 to Feb. 14.

The first “Step Up,” released in August 2006, cost less than $20 million to produce, and Disney and Summit didn’t spend any more than that on the follow-up.

Sequel, which stars Channing Tatum and Jenna Dewan, opened on par with the first, with females between 13 and 25 making up more than 60% of the aud.

“At $28 million for the five days, you can’t imagine how happy people are around here,” said Disney prexy of distribution Chuck Viane.

Adam Shankman and Jen Gibgot’s Offspring Entertainment produced both “Step Up” movies through their overall deal with the Mouse House. Universal said “Definitely, Maybe” came in right where expected for Working Title films, which don’t tend to open huge but typically have playability. “Working Title films just play and play. They don’t storm into the marketplace,” said Universal prexy of distribution Nikki Rocco.

Film, which stars Ryan Reynolds, Abigail Breslin, Rachel Weisz, Isla Fisher and Elizabeth Banks, skewed older, with 54% of the audience over 30. Women made up 57% of the aud.

The audience for romancers was fragmented, however, with younger woman going to see “Step Up” and the date crowd catching “Fool’s Gold.” Fox Searchlight’s “Juno” also continues to be a contender as well.The Oscar nominee declined just 2% to come in at No. 7, grossing an estimated $5.5 million from 1,865 runs. Cume hit $125 million in the quirky dramedy’s 11th sesh.

Among other holdovers, U’s Martin Lawrence laffer “Welcome Home Roscoe Jenkins” came in No. 6 in its second weekend, declining 36% to an estimated $10.4 million from 2,387; cume is $30.7 million in the pic’s first 10 days.

Warner’s “The Bucket List” declined just 12% to an estimated $4.6 million from 2,307 for a cume of $81 million in the film’s eighth week. Jack Nicholson-Morgan Freeman starrer came in No. 8.

Disney’s 3-D concert pic “Hannah Montana/Miley Cyrus: Best of Both Worlds Concert Tour” declined 62% to an estimated $3.9 million from 685; cume is $59 million in the movie’s third weekend. Concert pic was originally supposed to play just one week, but the Mouse House extended the run based on demand.

Landing at No. 10, Fox’s romancer “27 Dresses” declined 31% to an estimated $3.7 million from 1,936 runs for the four-day weekend for a cume of $70.5 million in the pic’s fifth sesh.

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