Box office’s big nights

'Date' clashes with 'Titans'

Entering the domestic B.O. as the frame’s only wide release, “Date Night,” starring Steve Carell and Tina Fey, will face its toughest competish from Warner Bros.’ 3D holdover “Clash of the Titans.”

Fox’s “Date”-friendly laffer debuts at 3,374 engagements, while “Clash” enters its soph sesh, coming off a record-setting Easter weekend, with $61.2 million.

Meanwhile, specialty distrib Apparition is switching gears with its music biopic “The Runaways,” targeting older arthouse demos as it expands the film to 211 Stateside locations.

Overseas, “Date Night” opens day-and-date in some 35 territories, including Australia and Mexico.

With a delayed rollout in several major markets, the film could fall victim to “Clash,” which expands to France and Germany.

Fox said it expects “Date” to land in the low to mid 20s, with hopes that popularity of Carell in “The Office” and Fey in “30 Rock” will translate to the bigscreen.

Of the two, Carell has a more prolific film career, having starred in Universal’s “40-Year-Old Virgin” and Warner’s “Get Smart.” “Virgin” opened with $21.4 million in 2005, totaling a solid $109.4 million, while 2008’s “Get Smart” earned $38.7 million in its opening weekend for a total $130.3 million.

Meanwhile, Fey has appeared mainly in supporting roles, including “Mean Girls” and “The Invention of Lying.” Alongside fellow “Saturday Night Live” alum Amy Poehler she toplined Universal’s “Baby Mama,” which debuted with $17.4 million at 2,543 playdates. The comedy cumed $86.1 million in 2008.

“Date Night,” about a married couple whose night out results in mayhem and mishaps, is tracking best among older auds with an even split between the genders. Typically, comedies play well among broad demos, but young males rep the film’s softest demo due to the age of the stars.

“Clash” will enter the weekend at 3,802 locations, of which 1,632 will be 3D-equipped. Last weekend, the film’s 3D component accounted for 52% of its total take, with 30 locations added this weekend.

Warner said it expects to drop anywhere from 60% to 70%, which is typical for an action-adventure film coming off a holiday frame. The film has seen strong midweek performances that could bode well for the weekend. “Clash” has cumed $84 million.

Other notable holdovers include Paramount and DreamWorks Animation’s 3D toon “How to Train Your Dragon,” entering its third frame, and Lionsgate’s Tyler Perry comedy “Why Did I Get Married Too?”

“Married” added to Perry’s boffo track record last weekend, playing to an auds mostly made up of older African-American women.

“Dragon” dropped 33% last weekend after retaining all its 3D locations. The toon earned $29 million at 2,155 locations, and grossed a total $104.7 million as of Wednesday.

Despite being toplined by “Twilight’s” Kristen Stewart, Apparition’s “The Runaways,” also starring Dakota Fanning, has struggled to find an aud since its limited bow March 19. To date, the pic has cumed $1.9 million. Distrib hopes older arthouse auds who remember the band will spark to promotional efforts by real-life Runaways Joan Jett and Cherie Currie.

In limited release, micro-distrib Screen Media will roll out Benjamin Bratt starrer “La Mission” at 15 locations. Set in the Mission district of San Francisco, Bratt plays a Hispanic father forced to deal with his son’s homosexuality.

Screen Media will release the film in markets including San Jose, Dallas and San Diego, with hopes of appealing to Latino auds.

Faith-based family drama, Vivendi’s “Letters to God,” also enters the frame in limited release at 897 locations. Pic is directed by David Nixon, producer “Fireproof” and “Facing the Giants.”

The frame’s 3D holdovers, led by “Clash” and “Dragon,” should continue to play well at the international B.O. “Clash” debuted last weekend with $45 million on 4,270 screens in 15 territories, while “Dragon” posted $41.3 million on 7,349 in 51 markets. Toon’s overseas cume has soared to $101.4 million as of April 4.

Meanwhile, Universal opened superhero comedy “Kick-Ass” early in the U.K., grossing $5.7 million on 402 screens. Pic, about an average teenager who develops a superhero identity, opens in the U.S. next weekend.

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