Paramount breaks August record for non-sequels

Paramount’s “G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra” accomplished its mission Friday in posting the highest opening for an August non-sequel with a remarkable $22.3 million off 4,007 engagements.

Most of August’s biggest openers in recent years, i.e. Universal’s “The Bourne Ultimatum,” New Line’s “Rush Hour 2” and Disney’s “Signs” typically clear the $20 million mark on their first day before posting a weekend take of at least $60 million. By Sunday, “G.I. Joe” looks to not only be part of that pack, but to own the third highest opening record in August behind “Bourne Ultimatum” ($69.3 million) and “Rush Hour 2” ($67.4 million).

In an effort to sidestep the bad reviews which its previous tentpole “Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen” received earlier in the summer, Paramount decided against screening “G.I. Joes” to critics, rather chose to generate positive word of mouth by showing the pic to key fanboy journos.

“G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra” earned a Cinema Score of A from males and females under 25 and a B from the same demo over 25, for an overall B+ score. The action pic based on both the comicbook series and the Hasbro action figure was co-produced by Spyglass Entertainment and producer Lorenzo Di Bonaventura for a pricetag of $175 million.

“G.I. Joe” was directed by Stephen Sommers who made his mark in tentpoles with the first two installments of Universal’s “The Mummy” franchise. “G.I. Joe” marks Sommers’ second highest opener after 2001’s “The Mummy Returns” which scored a $23.4 million first day and a $68.1 million weekend.

Sony’s Nora Ephron biopic “Julie and Julia” based on the chef Julia Child’s book “My Life in France” and Julie Powell’s cooking memoir and blog “Julie and Julia,” took second with $6.5 million off 2,354. Pic produced by Scott Rudin and starring Meryl Streep as Childs and Amy Adams as Powell, cost a thrifty $38 million and was largely targeted at the over 25 femme demo.

Disney’s 3-D moppet movie “G-Force” ranked third yesterday with $3 million, down 48% in its third Friday on 3,482, for a running domestic cume of $79.3 million.

Universal’s Judd Apatow comedy “Funny People” slotted fourth with $2.6 million, down 70% off 3,008 for an eight-day cume of $35.2 million.

In fifth, Warner Bros.’ “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince” nabbed $2.55 million, down 53% off 3,455 and raising its domestic cume to $267.5 million.

Yesterday’s third wide entry was the thriller “A Perfect Getaway” which bowed in seventh to $2.1 million off 2,159. Pic, starring Steve Zahn, Milla Jovovich and Timothy Olyphant was financed and marketed by Relativity Media’s Rogue Pictures and distributed by Universal.

Overture Films’ Charlyne Yi-Michael Cera romantic comedy “Paper Heart” bowed to an estimated $74,000 from 38 venues for a per theater of $1,945. IDP-Samuel Goldwyn’s Paul Giamatti comedy-drama “Cold Souls” drew $19,000 from seven venues for a per site of $2,667.

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