WB comedy nabs No. 1 spot for second week

Giving new box office arrivals a sobering bit of perspective, Warner Bros.’ “The Hangover” and Disney-Pixar’s “Up” again topped the domestic frame, easily besting the debut of “The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3.”

“Hangover” has transformed into a box office phenom, dipping just 26% to an estimated $33.4 million from 3,355 theaters for a cume of $105.3 million in its first 10 days. The Todd Phillips-directed comedy is the first R-rated laffer to match the box office success of 2005’s “The Wedding Crashers.”

“Up” likewise dazzled. The 3-D toon fell 31% in its third frame to an estimated $30.5 million from 3,886 runs for a cume of $187.2 million — the second-best domestic gross of any summer film, after Paramount’s “Star Trek.”

Third in the frame’s ranking was Tony Scott’s “Pelham,” toplining Denzel Washington and John Travolta. The remake of the 1974 action drama, appealing mostly to older adults, opened to a solid $25 million from 3,074 theaters.

And it was a rough weekend for Eddie Murphy, whose family pic “Imagine That” came in below expectations with just $5.7 million from 3,008 runs. The Paramount pic, which cost $55 million to produce, placed No. 6. “Imagine” is Murphy’s first movie since last summer’s “Meet Dave,” which bowed to just $5.4 million and cumed $11.8 million.

At the specialty box office, Focus Features’ dramedy “Away We Go” scored a per-location average of $12,320 as it expanded into 45 theaters in top markets for a gross of $554,383 and a cume of $751,322.

Overseas, “Terminator Salvation” won the weekend, grossing $46.1 million for an international cume of $165.5 million. Sony’s weekend take was $44.5 million from 10,275 screens in 74 markets (pic is being distributed independently in a handful of territories), led by a boffo $10.7 million in Japan and a $9 million debut in China, the second-best opening ever for a foreign title.

“Salvation’s” foreign run continues to make up for a softer haul in the U.S., where Warners is handling. Pic’s domestic cume was $113.8 million through Sunday for a worldwide total of $279.3 million.

Even with the runaway success of “Hangover” and “Up,” domestic B.O. revs for the weekend were down 22% from the same frame a year ago, led by Universal’s “The Incredible Hulk.” Year-to-date, box office revenues are still up by 10% to 12%. Summer B.O. should get a substantial revenue infusion with the openings of “Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen” (June 24) and “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince” (July 15).

Sony’s “Pelham” skewed slightly male and played to a largely older audience, with 62% of the aud over the age of 30.

“The film performed just where we thought it would for an R-rated action pic, and we think it will have a great multiple,” Sony worldwide prexy of distribution Rory Bruer said.

It’s the fourth film that Scott and Washington have done together.

Outside of Fox’s “Taken,” adult-skewing actioners and dramas are having a tough time at the box office as the public opts for less grim fare.

Sony expects “Pelham” to have a lucrative run overseas, based on the star power of Washington and Travolta as well as the action. Pic, which cost $100 million to produce, opened in select markets in Asia and the Middle East, cuming $2.4 million from 400 runs.

Like Universal last week with “Land of the Lost,”Paramount didn’t try to sugarcoat the domestic results for “Imagine That,” which cost $55 million to produce.

“Many of Paramount’s biggest success have been pictures with Eddie Murphy, so we are disappointed that more people didn’t turn out for the opening,” Par’s Don Harris said. “The people that did come liked the movie, and we got an A-minus CinemaScore. We just didn’t get enough people.”

“Land of the Lost” placed No. 5 in its second sesh, declining 31% to an estimated $9.2 million for a cume of $35 million. Film opened in several territories overseas, grossing $3.1 million from 670 playdates in five markets.

Both “Up” and “Hangover” are being bolstered by strong word-of-mouth and good reviews.

“The word-of-mouth on ‘Hangover’ is incredible. It’s become the watercooler film of the year,” Warner Bros. exec VP of distribution Jeff Goldstein said.

“Hangover” is almost assured of a domestic cume exceeding $200 million. “Wedding Crashers” ended its second weekend with a domestic gross of $95.6 million on its way to $209 million domestic and $76 million overseas. Pic’s worldwide tally of $285.2 million ushered in the era of the R-rated comedy, and while many films in its mold have done well, none had been able to match “Wedding Crashers” until “Hangover.”

Pic is off to a strong start overseas, bagging $11.6 million from 1,350 in 15 markets, putting it at No. 4 for the weekend. It came in No. 1 in the U.K. with $5.2 million (including previews.)

It’s unusual for two films like “Hangover” and “Up” to simultaneously have such solid holds domestically.

“This just doesn’t happen anymore. It used to be that movies played for months,” said Disney prexy of distribution Chuck Viane.

The combo of Pixar’s storytelling and 3-D are proving a potent combo.

“Up” is the biggest example yet of how the added charge for a 3-D ticket can boost overall revenues. Box office observers now believe it will cume north of $250 million domestically, and that it could beat “The Incredibles” ($261.4 million). “Finding Nemo” remains top domestic grosser for a Pixar title at $339.7 million.

“Up” also is enjoying early success at the international box office, where it is rolling out slowly. For the weekend, the pic placed No. 5 in grossing $8.2 million from 2,243 screens in 14 territories, and remained No. 1 in 12 of those. Pic dominated in its debut in Argentina, grossing $951,000 from 85 screens and scoring it the biggest debut ever for a non-sequel animated title.

Toon also topped the charts in Chile and Venezuela. In Thailand, it looks to have enough momentum to become the second-biggest animated pic ever after “Finding Nemo.”

Fox’s “Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian” jumped the $300 million mark at the worldwide box office over the weekend. It placed No. 2 internationally, grossing $17.9 million from 8,156 runs in 104 markets for a foreign cume of $176.2 million. That included a strong $3.3 million first-place debut in Mexico.

Domestically, “Museum 2″ placed No. 4, declining 34% to an estimated $9.6 million from 3,365 runs for a domestic total of $143.4 million and worldwide cume of $319.5 million.

Sony’s “Angels and Demons” placed No. 3 overseas, grossing $14.1 million from 7,100 playdates for a cume of $315 million. Domestic cume on “Angels” is 123.3 million. Pic’s overall total is $438 million, the best worldwide showing of the year.

Highlights at the specialty box office included Magnolia’s docu “Food, Inc.,” which posted a per-screen average of $21,000 as it opened in three theaters, grossing $63,000.

Francis Ford Coppola’s “Tetro” opened in two theaters, grossing $31,339 for a per-location average of $19,084 and cume of $38,169 (pic opened Thursday). Sony Pictures Classics’ Sam Rockwell sci-fi drama “Moon” scored a per-location average of $18,152, grossing $145,218 from four runs.

Vivendi’s “Call of the Wild 3-D” struggled to $10,000 from 14 screens for a per-location average of $714.

IFC’s “Summer Hours” grossed $125,000 as it expanded into 50 theaters for a per-screen average of $2,500 and a cume of $964,522.

Also over the weekend, Disney held sneak previews of Sandra Bullock-Ryan Reynolds romantic comedy “The Proposal” in 1,187 runs. Studio said runs were at 88%. Film opens Friday.

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