'Babylon A.D.' opens in second place

DreamWorks and Paramount’s holdover comedy “Tropic Thunder” continued to dominate at the Labor Day box office with three-day take of $11.5 million from 3,473 theaters, while 20th Century Fox’s Van Diesel sci-fi actioner “Babylon A.D.” grabbed the No. 2 spot with $9.7 million from 3,390.

It’s the third weekend in a row that the Ben Stiller-directed “Tropic Thunder” has won.

Overall theater traffic was slow, however, even with the entry of “Babylon” and four other new wide players. Final four-day numbers for the long holiday weekend–and final frame of summer–won’t be released until Monday, but sesh looks to be down by as much as 14% over last year, when “Halloween” redo made $26.4 million for the three days, and $30.6 million for the four.

If there were any bright spots, they largely belonged to “Tropic Thunder” and Warner Bros.’ “The Dark Knight,” which continued to make news as it crossed the $500 million mark on Sunday, becoming only the second pic in history to earn north of $500 million after “Titanic.”

Overture’s Don Cheadle-Guy Pearce political thriller “Traitor” opened solidly son the strength of adult moviegoers, grossing an estimated $7.9 million from 2,054 theaters through Sunday for a strong per location average $3,846 and a five-day cume of $9.5 million. Film came in No. 5 for the weekend.

In addition to “Babylon’ and “Traitor,” there were three other new wide offerings, none of which did notable business.

Lionsgate’s send-up “Disaster Movie,” from the “Scary Movie” team, came in No. 7 for the three-days, grossing an estimated $6.2 million from 2,642 runs.

MGM’s comedy romp “College” only came in No. 15, grossing an estimated $2.1 million from 2,123 runs.

Focus Features’ “Hamlet 2,” a Sundance acquisition, stumbled badly out of the gate, coming in No. 17 for the three-day weekend. Quirky comedy grossed an estimated $1.7 million from 1,597 runs for a per location average of $1,064 and a cume of $2.7 (film opened a week ago in a limited run, before going wide on Wednesday).

For the most part, it was holdovers that dominated the holiday frame.

“Tropic Thunder” dipped 29% in its third sesh, ending Sunday with a cume of $83.8 million.

“Dark Knight’s” hold was even more impressive, as it registered a decline of just 17% in its seventh sesh to $8.7 million from 2,750 runs.

It took “Dark Knight” six weeks and three days to jump the $500 million boundary at the domestic box office; it took “Titanic” 13 weeks. “Dark Knight” should top out at around $530 million, while “Titanic’s” domestic cume was $600.8 million.

Sony’s “The House Bunny” placed No. 4 in its second weekend, declining 43% to an estimated $8.3 million from 2,714 for a 10-day cume of $27.8 million.

Biz was good for another female-skewing pic, Universal’s “Mamma Mia!,” which actually saw a 2% bump in grossing an estimated $4.4 million from 1,968 runs in its seventh weekend for or a cume of $131.5 million. U held special Labor Day “sing-alongs” in certain markets.

U’s male actioner “Death Race” didn’t enjoy the same strong legs. Pic declined 51% in its second weekend to an estimated $6.2 million from 2,537 runs for a cume of $23 million in its first 10 days.

On the specialty side, Woody Allen’s “Vicky Cristina Barcelona” held well, coming in No. 10 for the weekend in grossing an estimated $3 million from 692 runs for a per location average of $4,340 for a cume of $12.8 million. MGM is distributing the film for the Weinstein Co.

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