Martial arts fable overperforms at box office

Sony’s “The Karate Kid” knocked out the competish this weekend at the domestic B.O., debuting with an estimated $56 million at 3,663 locations, more than doubling the weekend’s other wide release, “The A-Team,” which 20th Century Fox estimates to have scored $26 million at 3,534.

Both pics helped boost the frame approximately 10% over the same weekend last year, a healthy rise given the industry’s low-key perfs so far this summer.

In its fourth frame, Paramount and DreamWorks Animation’s “Shrek Forever After” slipped a scant 38% for an estimated $15.8 million,

falling from its top perch for the first time since its May 21 debut.

IFC rolled out docu “Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work” to several soldout screenings at seven locations, totaling $170,580 for a per-screen average of $24,368. Distrib plans to expand the docu to 15 U.S. markets next weekend.

And despite the World Cup soccer tourney kickoff, Warner Bros.’s female romp “Sex and the City 2″ managed to rake in an additional $23.7 million on the international front, bringing its overseas cume to $131.7 million.

The tourney took its toll on the frame’s reboot pair as “Karate Kid” opened in only six territories on 800 screens ($6 million), while “The A-Team” debuted day-and-date in 35 markets on 3,640, totaling an estimated $15 million. “Karate Kid” took in less than $1 million in South Korea, where the overall market was down Saturday during the country’s match against Greece, losing to fellow opener “The A-Team,” which fared only slightly better with an estimated $1.5 million.

Based on the 1984 original, “Karate Kid” performed well beyond studio expectations, appealing to all audiences, led by those under 25. “Kid” benefited greatly from parents who were fans of the first franchise, making the weekend a family event. Ticket sales for the Sony/Overbrook redo attracted 45% families, while 47% of its aud was male.

“We felt like we had a real shot to overperform, but to get this number, it really shows the strength of the film,” said Sony distrib topper Rory Bruer. “It’s a film that plays to everyone.”

Bruer credited director Harald Zwart and stars Jackie Chan and Jaden Smith as key to the film’s positive reactions, noting, “The chemistry between Chan and Smith is incredibly special.” Pic received an overall A Cinema-Score rating that should continue to boost word of mouth in the coming weeks.

Budgeted at approximately $40 million, “Karate Kid” was lensed almost entirely in China. Given strong reactions to the film’s exotic locale and leading duo, Sony insiders described the potential for a “Karate Kid” sequel as a “very real possibility.”

Fox’s “A-Team” — the frame’s other ’80s reboot and hopeful franchise starter — fell in line with studio expectations but lacked “Karate’s” family demo. “A-Team” played best to those over 25, repping a 61%-39% age split, with men accounting for 59% of its aud. Pic received a B+ CinemaScore rating, but scored better with younger auds.

“I think overall the movie is going to play well, particularly among the young people who may or may not be familiar with the original,” said Fox senior VP of domestic distribution Chris Aronson.

Marketed as an action comedy, “A-Team” shows that auds may be more receptive to lighter Iraq-set fare than to the dramas that have failed to register with moviegoers. Directed by Joe Carnahan, pic teams star Liam Neeson with Bradley Cooper, Quinton Jackson and Sharlto Copley as members of the ragtag military troupe originally seen in the 1983 TV series. Fox updated the cast to former Iraq War soldiers, instead of Vietnam vets.

Falling behind the two openers and “Shrek,” Universal’s R-rated laffer “Get Him to the Greek” dropped 43% for an estimated $15.8 million at 3,868 engagements; pic’s cume stands at $36.5 million.

Lionsgate’s femme-driven “Killers” earned an estimated $8.2 million, down 48% in its soph sesh, for a cume of $30.7 million; while Fox’s “Marmaduke” drew enough families to outrank Warner’s “Sex 2″ in its third frame. “Sex 2″ dropped 55% for a take of $5.5 million, bringing its domestic total to $84.7 million.

Also entering its third outing, Disney’s swords-and-sandals epic “Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time” took in an estimated $6.6 million for a cume of $72.3 million.

In limited release, Roadside Attractions launched Sundance Grand Jury prizewinner “Winter’s Bone” at four locations in New York and Los Angeles. Pic totaled an impressive $85,442, averaging $21,360 per screen. Sony Pictures Classics saw an average of $16,297 per screen with a weekend total of $48,892 at three engagements for its debut of “Coco Chanel and Igor Stravinsky.”

Ranking second overseas behind “Sex 2,” Disney’s “Prince” totaled an estimated $19.7 million on 10,211 screens in 50 territories. International figures for the film now stand at $190.3 million.

Top overseas market for “A-Team” was Australia, where the film debuted with $2.9 million on 324 screens, followed by Russia’s $1.7 million take on 755. Fox decided to launch the film wide overseas despite the World Cup kickoff, and will continue its expansion next weekend in several soccer strongholds such as France and Italy.

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