'The Ugly Truth' opens strong

Disney’s family pic “G-Force” was the favorite rocket ride at the domestic B.O., opening over the weekend to an estimated $32.3 million from 3,697 playdates and besting Warner Bros. holdover “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.”

“Half-Blood Prince” remained the worldwide leader, earning a magical $84.4 million internationally for a total haul of $627.1 million. That’s the top pace for the “Potter” franchise. Domestic gross was an estimated $30 million from 4,325 runs.

In other domestic action, Sony’s romantic comedy “The Ugly Truth,” starring Katherine Heigl and Gerard Butler, debuted to a pleasing $27 million from 2,882 engagements to place third for the sesh.

Warners and Dark Castle’s horror pic “Orphan” opened to a solid, but not spectacular, $12.8 million from 2,750 runs.

Fox Searchlight continued to enjoy specialty success with offbeat comedy “500 Days of Summer,” which grossed an estimated $1.6 million as it expanded into 85 theaters in its second weekend for a per-location average of $19,176 and cume of $3 million.

Paramount also made headlines at the domestic B.O. as “Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen” became the 10th highest grossing film of all time, with a cume of $379.1 million through Sunday. That beats out “The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King” ($377 million).

The weekend was down as much as 17% from the same frame last year, when “The Dark Knight” dominated. However, revs for the year remain up more than 8%.

Going into the weekend, some box office observers expected “Half-Blood Prince” to win the domestic race. But “G-Force” pulled ahead by cornering the lucrative family market and benefiting from the added revenue from 3-D ticket sales. Families made up 75% of the aud.

“It’s always fun to overperform, but to come out on top in a competitive market like this is special,” said Disney exec VP of domestic distribution Chris LeRoy.

“G-Force” played on 1,604 3-D screens. They repped just 43% of the theater count but supplied 56% of the total gross.

The only foreign territory where “G-Force” opened was Chile, where it grossed a sterling $386K.

Disney’s summer titles “The Proposal” and Disney-Pixar’s “Up” also opened at No. 1.

“The Proposal” has been one of the most successful romantic comedies ever, grossing $140.1 million through Sunday at the domestic B.O.

“Proposal” continued to romance moviegoers worldwide over the weekend, jumping the $200 million mark. Overseas, “Proposal” saw good numbers as it expanded into the U.K., where it earned $8.2 million in Blighty. Foreign cume is 61.1 million or a worldwide tally of $201.2 million.

Sony will look for the same success with “The Ugly Truth.” Pic was produced for roughly $38 million.

“Opening anywhere above $20 million would have been fantastic, but this is just great. The word of mouth has been terrific,” Sony prexy of worldwide distribution Rory Bruer said.

All of the weekend’s big pics played well to femmes, from “G-Force” to “Half-Blood Prince” and 20th Century Fox holdover “Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs.”

“The Ugly Truth” drew a 62% female aud, while 64% were over age 25.

Warner prexy of domestic distribution Dan Fellman said the R-rated “Orphan” opened in line with expectations, and that it will be profitable. The movie showed that horror pics continue to appeal heavily to young women — 63% of the aud were females under 25.

“Half-Blood Prince” has yet to open nationwide in Imax theaters, which could explain its 61% decline. Imax had already committed to playing “Transformers 2″ when Warners decided to push back the release of “Half-Blood Prince” from last November to July.

“Half-Blood Prince” opens in Imax theaters beginning Wednesday.

As with other “Potter” pics, “Half-Blood Prince” is an international powerhouse. It scored the biggest international opening of all time last weekend and continued to see sizable grosses in its second weekend. Film’s cume in the U.K. alone through Sunday was north of $53 million.

Warners expects the film to gross more than $650 million internationally, the biggest cume of all time for any title in the franchise.

Fox’s 3-D “Ice Age” threequel likewise remains dino-sized at the international B.O. Pic grossed $40.6 million for the weekend from 9,946 screens in 102 markets; cume is $505.4 million.

Universal’s Johnny Depp gangster pic “Public Enemies” saw some nice numbers as it opened in 13 additional markets, grossing $9.6 million from 2,600 screens in 33 territories for a foreign cume of $36.3 million.

“Public Enemies” outdid Sacha Baron Cohen’s mockumentary “Bruno,” which grossed $6.5 million from 2,700 screens in 33 markets for a foreign cume of $56 million.

On Friday, U re-released a watered-down version of “Bruno” in the U.K. in order to let teens in the door. Film placed No. 4 in the U.K., grossing $1.9 million.

“Bruno” slipped to No. 10 at the domestic B.O. in its third frame, declining another 67% to an estimated $2.7 million from 1,895 theaters for a domestic cume of $56.5 million and worldwide total of $112.5 million.

The specialty box office continued to heat up. IFC’s political satire “In the Loop” opened to an estimated $200,816 from eight theaters in top markets for a per-location average of $25,102. Pic also bows next week on video-on-demand.

Summit Entertainment’s “The Hurt Locker” expanded to 238 theaters, grossing an estimated $1.5 million for a per-location average of $6,122 and cume of $4 million.

Both “Hurt Locker” and Searchlight’s “500 Days of Summer” will continue to expand next week.

Roadside Attractions’ Kevin Spacey drama “Shrink” debuted to $17,000 from two locations for a per theater average of $8,500.

Magnolia’s “The Answer Man,” however, struggled, grossing $12,900 from six theaters for an opening per location average of $2,150.

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