‘Monsters’ crushes competition

3-D feature nabs $16.7 million Friday

Moviegoers en masse donned their 3-D glasses yesterday as Paramount’s DreamWorks Animation release “Monsters vs. Aliens” beamed up an estimated $16.7 million at 4,104 sites.

Outside the summer sesh, that’s the second best opening day for a DreamWorks Animation release behind the $17.6 million posted by last November’s “Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa.”

Lionsgate also had a strong day at the box office as “The Haunting in Connecticut” chalked up $9.6 million on 2,732 giving the distrib its best opening day for a non-sequel horror pic, a record previously owned by its January entry “My Bloody Valentine 3-D” which made $8.2 million on its first Friday.

Thanks to “Monsters vs. Aliens” as well as “Haunting,” the estimated receipts for the top 10 films totaled close to $43 million, repping a 51% surge over Friday’s top 10 from a year ago.

Paramount will be reporting the official box office results of “Monsters” 3-D portion on Sunday. With 1,550 of the toon’s 4,104 theaters being 3-D-equipped, “Monsters vs. Aliens” is the widest bow for a 3-D title. Paramount laid out a similar distribution plan to “Monsters” in late 2007 with “Beowulf” whereby only a certain portion of its prints were in 3-D. Roughly 40% of “Beowulf’s” $27.5 million opening weekend B.O. – approximately $11 million — was derived from 3-D theaters.

Last weekend’s number one pic “Knowing,” starring Nicolas Cage and released by Summit Entertainment, took third with $4.7 million on 3,337, down 48%, and an eight-day domestic gross of $36.2 million.

Paramount’s R-rated bromance comedy “I Love You, Man” filed fourth with $4 million, down 37% on 2,717 and an eight-day cume of $28.4 million.

Universal’s Julia Roberts-Clive Owen caper, “Duplicity” ranked fifth in its second Friday, collecting $2.3 million on 2,579, down 51%, and counting $20.4 million.

The day’s third widest release, World Wrestling Entertainment’s “12 Rounds” from Twentieth Century Fox, secured $1.8 million in sixth from 2,331. The film, directed by Renny Harlin, stars WWE champion John Cena as a detective whose life is complicated after he thwarts a criminal mastermind’s mult-million-dollar heist.

Among yesterday’s limited fare, Gener8Xion Entertainment’s docu “The Cross” made $123,000 off 221 engagements for a theater average of $555.

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