Adult auds help sequel earn an estimated $19 mil

(Article updated at 4:45 p.m. PT.)

Adult moviegoers powered the weekend’s domestic box office, with 20th Century Fox’s “Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps” claiming the top spot with an estimated $19 million from 3,565 locations.

Fox reps credited the film’s good start to moviegoers over 30, which made up 65% of the audience.

“Wall Street” easily topped the weekend’s high-profile family 3D offering “Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’hoole,” from Warner Bros., which posted an estimated $16.3 million at 3,575 locations, of which 2,479 were 3D-equipped. Imax reported $1.7 million of the toon’s weekend take on 193 runs.

Meanwhile, Disney’s wide release “You Again,” which drew an overwhelmingly older female aud (75% over age 25), fell in line with studio expectations, estimating $8.3 million at 2,548 locations.

The frame’s holdover crop also appealed primarily to adult tastes, as Warner’s R-rated cop thriller “The Town” dropped a scant 33% in its second outing for a weekend estimate of $16 million, while “Easy A” continued to play well for Sony with moviegoers aged 18 and over. Pic fell just 40% in its soph sesh, earning an estimated $10.7 million. “The Town has cumed $49.1 million; “Easy A,” $32.8 million.

The domestic B.O. was up about 5% in grosses over the same frame last year, when “Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs” topped in its second frame with $25 million. Specialty pics like Paramount Vantage’s “Waiting for Superman” and Sony Pictures Classics’ “You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger” added to the weekend’s healthy totals.

“Superman” earned the year’s highest per-screen average for a docu, with some $35,250 at each of the film’s four locations. Pic’s opening take reached an estimated $141,000. Par said it expects the education reform-themed docu to continue widening throughout the November elections, starting next week when the film expands to the top 10 U.S. markets.

Woody Allen’s “Stranger” grossed $163,474 at six engagements for a per-screen average of $27,245, with five-day totals at $214,815 since the pic launched Wednesday.

On the international front, Fox debuted “Wall Street” in 41 territories, though only two of the top 10 foreign markets went day and date. In Australia, the film turned in $1.6 million on 283 screens, second only to Universal’s “Despicable Me,” which posted $2.1 million in its third frame from 265 Oz dates. “Wall Street” earned a total of $9.1 million on 1,723 screens and will expand next weekend to major markets like France, Russia and Mexico; “Despicable,” having cumed $98.5 million, will roll out through most of Europe over the next few months.

Still, Sony’s “Resident Evil: Afterlife” ranked tops at foreign wickets for its third straight week, grossing a sizable $24 million. Pic’s international figures stand at just north of $150 million for a worldwide haul of $202 million.

While “Afterlife” posted an additional $4.9 million domestically, repping a drop of 51%, most Stateside auds opted for fresher fare. “Wall Street’s” chart-topping debut marked a nice start for the film, especially given strong holds among other adult-driven holdovers, led by “The Town.”

Fox senior VP of domestic distribution Chris Aronson said “Wall Street” has positioned itself nicely considering how adult-targeted pics typically play in repeat frames. “Adult films really hold well because that audience doesn’t normally rush out opening weekend,” Aronson noted.

Fox’s reboot reunites helmer Oliver Stone and Michael Douglas after the pair first teamed up on the original “Wall Street” offering in 1987. Sequel newcomers include Shia LaBeouf, Carey Mulligan and Josh Brolin. Some naysayers questioned whether the 22-year-gap would negatively affect the sequel’s B.O. potential. Aronson, however, argued that the pic was able to attract new viewers, thanks to a fresh cast, as well as to retain its original fans.

“I think this film does stand alone, but I also think there is some holdover affection for the (Douglas) character,” Aronson added. “It’s a rare thing in Hollywood for a movie character this far removed to have such a great second act.”

Warner’s “Legend,” the first offering in a hopeful start-up franchise for the studio, is based on the young-adult series by Kathryn Lasky. “Legend” also marks the first family-targeted title for director Zack Snyder, who previously helmed R-rated pics like “300” and “Watchmen.”

Rated PG, the 3D toon incorporates some violent elements that can be attributed to Snyder’s directing style; however, Dan Fellman, prexy of domestic distribution for Warner, said “Legend” still played best with families. “The reality is that parents ultimately made the decision,” Fellman said.

Fellman also noted that the film’s 3D format, with higher 3D ticket prices, helped boost overall grosses. The 3D format contributed 72% of its opening from 69% of the total location count.

Toon marks the first 3D foray for animation studio Animal Logic, the same team that created Warner’s 2006 “Happy Feet.” That toon launched the week before Thanksgiving with $41.5 million and cumed a boffo $198 million domestically. With an A- CinemaScore rating, “Legend” should play relatively unchallenged on the family front until Disney launches its horse racing drama “Secretariat” on Oct. 8.

Few overseas auds were introduced to the Warner toon over the weekend, as it grossed an estimated $1.2 million from just 377 foreign screens. Pic rolls out next weekend in Russia, Japan and Australia, where it should earn sizable coin given the pic’s Aussie-heavy voice cast.

The frame’s third domestic opener, “You Again,” scored a B+ rating with Stateside moviegoers, with positive responses from its core female demo, Disney said.

Chuck Viane, Disney distrib topper, attributed a solid 29% uptick on Saturday to strong word of mouth among targeted auds. “There’s no question we opened a chick flick,” Viane said. “But a number of female comedies play well depending on word of mouth and how it spreads.”

“You Again” includes three generations of female thesps, toplining Kristen Bell, Jamie Lee Curtis and Betty White. Adult femmes likely sparked to appearances from Curtis and co-star Sigourney Weaver. Pic debuted day and date in Russia only, posting an estimated $1.3 million, while the next overseas market to get “You Again” will be Australia Dec. 2.

Other specialty releases included Oscilloscope’s Allen Ginsberg biopic “Howl” at six playdates in New York and San Francisco, with an estimated $54,000. “Howl,” toplining James Franco, David Strathairn and Jeff Daniels, played to sold-out screenings for a solid per-screen average of $9,000.

IFC bowed festival hit “Enter the Void” at three locations, with an estimated $42,300 and averaging $14,100 per screen. “Enter the Void,” from helmer Gaspar Noe (“Irreversible”), tells the story of a murdered teen who returns as a ghost to protect his sister. Pic will expand to the top 10 U.S. markets in the coming weeks.

Meanwhile, Sony mounted an aggressive rollout for Will Ferrell-produced “The Virginity Hit,” debuting the pic at 700 locations, which earned a disappointing estimate figure of $300,000 for a low-end average of $429 per screen. Universal’s social networking docu “Catfish,” from Rogue and Relativity Media, saw better traction in its second outing. “Catfish” expanded to 57 locations, estimating $470,000, with an average of $8,254. Pic’s domestic cume reached $829,000.

Lionsgate bowed limited Ryan Reynolds starrer “Buried” to solid results. Pic rolled out at 11 locations, earning a per-screen average of $9,500, with weekend estimates totaling $104,500.

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