‘Knight’ dawns early for Fox

Tom Cruise/Cameron Diaz-starrer opens nationwide

Twentieth Century Fox’s Tom Cruise/Cameron Diaz-starrer “Knight and Day” launches today at the domestic B.O., looking to get a head start on the weekend. Early tracking suggests auds may warm more to Sony’s ensemble laffer “Grown Ups,” which is holding out for a more traditional launch on Friday.

Overseas, “Toy 3” earned an estimated $44.8 million in only 25% of the international market. Toon should continue to dominate the international B.O. as it expands to eight additional territories, including Australia and India.

In anticipation of its Stateside bow, Fox sneaked “Knight” last weekend at 500 locations to 85% capacity. B.O. observers suggested the sneak screenings, coupled with the early bow, were results of soft tracking.

Still, Fox’s domestic distribution topper Bruce Snyder said that early positive reactions and the Wednesday bow could boost word-of-mouth through the weekend. “The best tool we had was the movie itself,” Snyder added.

“Knight,” directed by James Mangold, reunites Cruise and Diaz after “Vanilla Sky,” which Paramount launched in 2001 to $25 million. This time around, Cruise stars as a secret agent who is sent on a phony mission where he encounters woman caught up with those who set him up.

Fox mounted a relatively muted marketing campaign, without picturing the stars in the key art, which depicted only white silhouettes of the two thesps.

Meanwhile, Sony went the other direction with its marketing for “Grown Ups,” depicting childhood photos of its comedian roster that includes Adam Sandler, Kevin James, Chris Rock, David Spade and Rob Schneider. Sony expects “Grown Ups” to open near the summer B.O.’s previous Sandler offerings, including the studio’s June 2008 release “You Don’t Mess With the Zohan,” which logged a $38.5 million opening.

Budgeted north of $70 million, “Grown Ups” is directed by Dennis Dugan, who directed such previous Sandler vehicles as “Zohan” and “I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry,” which debuted with $34.2 million in 2007.

Warner Bros.’ supernatural Western tale “Jonah Hex” debuted last weekend with a disappointing $5.4 million. Pic will face an uphill battle gaining traction in its holdover frames, especially given tough competish from the wide entries.

Specialty strength

Fox Searchlight will expand “Cyrus” Friday to 17 locations. Last weekend, the pic earned the year’s second-highest per-screen average of $45,429. “Cyrus” will debut this weekend in U.S. markets including Boston, Chicago and Washington D.C.

Also expanding in its soph sesh, Magnolia’s Tilda Swinton-starrer “I Am Love” will unspool at an additional 19 locations. Pic grossed $121,504 during its opening weekend at eight locations for a healthy per-screen average of $15,188.

Sony Pictures Classics will debut Alain Resnais’ “Wild Grass” Friday at two locations in New York

Meanwhile, director Oliver Stone’s docu “South of the Border,” about Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, opens this weekend at one Gotham location. Cinema Libre is handling U.S. distribution for the docu, which screens today at Silverdocs fest. “Border” has been playing in Latin America since earlier this month.

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