Warner Bros., New Line comedy makes history

Warner Bros. and New Line’s feature adaptation of former HBO TV series “Sex and the City” grossed a whopping $26.9 million Friday from 3,285 theaters on the strength of women, by far the best opening day ever for a romantic comedy and the sort of gross usually reserved for male-driven tentpoles or family fare.

Friday’s gross is the third highest ever for an R-rated pic, slotting behind previous Warner Bros. tentpoles such as 2003′s “The Matrix Reloaded” ($42.5 million) and 2007′s “300″ ($28.1 million).

“Sex and the City” overpowered Memorial Day weekend holdover “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.” The Steven Spielberg- helmed pic took second with $12.2 million from 4,264 sites, down 60% from a week ago, and raising its 10-day domestic haul to $183.1 million.

Women, particularly women over 25, and big box office openings aren’t usually synonymous. “Sex and the City,” rated R and playing in 3,285, is a lusty exception. Throughout this week, women and their friends bought up advance tickets for the film, resulting in sold-out Friday shows in many top markets.

It’s been four years since “Sex and the City” ended its run on HBO. Directed and written by Michael Patrick King–an alum of the TV series–feature film reunites the original cast.

Warners took over distribution of “Sex and the City” after Time Warner dismantled New Line as a standalone studio and made it a label within the Warner Bros. fold.

Film received an A CinemaScore from Friday auds.

Elsewhere on Friday, Universal and Rogue Pictures’ “The Strangers,” starring Liv Tyler and Scott Speedman, grossed an estimated $7.5 million from 2,467 venues to place third for the day after “Sex and the City” and “Crystal Skull.” The horror-thriller about the mysterious invasion of a couple’s vacation home was produced for an estimated $9 million.

Paramount and Marvel’s “Iron Man” placed fourth with $3.7 million off 3,650, down 32%, with a running cume of $266.3 million.

In fifth, Disney and Walden Media’s “The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian” drew $3.4 million at 3,801, down 48% from a week ago, with total B.O. of $106.1 million.

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