Spoof edges out Stallone at box office

One movie about ancient warriors inched out another at the box office this weekend, as “Meet the Spartans” came in just ahead of “Rambo.”

Last weekend’s openers had a tight race for the third and fourth spots, but a huge 68% tumble for “Cloverfield” and a skimpy 41% drop for “27 Dresses” meant that Fox’s romantic comedy landed on top after being handily beaten a week ago.

Financed by New Regency and distribbed by Fox, spoof “Meet the Spartans” took in $18.7 million at 2,605 theaters.

Perf is virtually identical to that of “Date Movie” and “Epic Movie,” previous spoofs from writer-directors Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer that bowed in the winters of 2006 and ’07. Auds for “Spartan” were 75% younger than 25.

Revival of “Rambo” proved a success, grossing $18.2 million from 2,751 locations. Pic significantly outperformed writer-director-star Sylvester Stallone’s last film resurrection, “Rocky Balboa,” which took $12.2 million on its first weekend.

Pic was acquired by Lionsgate from Avi Lerner’s Nu Image/Millennium, which got rights to the franchise from the Weinstein Co.

Auds were primarily male, but evenly split between those over and under 25, indicating that there was a healthy mix of those new to the action star and those with fond memories of his ass-kicking deeds in the ’80s.

Weinstein Co. execs are already thinking about reviving “Rambo” as a franchise.

“This film has been a long time coming,” said Harvey Weinstein, noting that his brother Bob bought the “Rambo” rights at auction when they were running Miramax, and the new film only got going when Lerner became involved more recently. “Based on these numbers, there should be another one.”

Frame’s other openers were Sony Screen Gems’ thriller “Untraceable,” which grossed a so-so $11 million at 2,368 locations, good enough for No. 5 for the weekend, and Paramount Vantage’s dancing drama “How She Move,” which managed only $4.2 million at 1,531 theaters and didn’t break the top 10.

Though horror films don’t typically hold well, few expected “Cloverfield” would fall quite so dramatically. After opening with $41 million, it grossed $12.7 million on its second weekend. The 68% drop isn’t quite as big as those taken by record holders like “Gigli” and “Doom,” but it’s still a dubious mark after “Cloverfield’s” record-setting opening.

Nonetheless, Par execs are surely thrilled the pic, which the studio says cost $25 million, has cumed almost $65 million in 10 days.

Fox had nothing to complain about either, as “27 Dresses” enjoyed a modest decline that indicates it should have strong legs. Katherine Heigl starrer grossed $13.6 million, bringing its total take to $45.3 million.

Two Fox films passed major milestones, as “Alvin and the Chipmunks” continued its boffo run by crossing the $200 million domestic mark, and Searchlight’s “Juno,” enjoying a bump following the Oscar noms, came in No. 6 for the weekend and upped its cume to more than $100 million.

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