Fox says numbers fine for an adult-targeted caper film

Twentieth Century Fox’s action caper “Knight and Day” scored $3.8 million Wednesday at 3,043 locations, an opening that some B.O. observers have characterized as a bumpy start for the Tom Cruise-Cameron Diaz starrer.

But the film’s largely adult aud doesn’t normally turn out in force for mid-week openings, so Fox stressed that Wednesday’s figures are by no means the final word on “Knight.” Early tracking had suggested a modest opening, prompting the Wednesday bow and last weekend’s sneak previews, which Fox hopes will continue to fuel word of mouth through the weekend.

Still, some question whether the early bow might undercut weekend box office rather than bolster it by diffusing buzz, as one exec at a rival studio suggested.

Last year’s comparable adult-skewing summer title “Public Enemies” opened with $8.2 million domestically on a Wednesday, with three-day totals for the Universal pic totaling a disappointing $25.3 million. Paramount-DreamWorks’ comedy “Tropic Thunder,” which was aimed at somewhat younger moviegoers aged 18-25, debuted mid-week with $6.5 million in August 2008.

“Public Enemies” reached $97.1 million domestically; while “Tropic Thunder,” which grossed $25.8 million during its inaugural frame, fared slightly better overall with $110.5 million.

Meanwhile, Disney’s “Toy Story 3″ continues to benefit from tots on summer vacation, with an additional $13.5 million take on Wednesday for a cume of $154.5 million.

The weekend’s new entries, both rated PG-13, should attract an even split between men and women. “Knight” will expand to some 50 more U.S. engagements today, and Sony’s laffer “Grown Ups” launches at 3,534.

“Grown Ups,” which should play best to young males, stars “Saturday Night Live” alum Adam Sandler, David Spade, Rob Schneider and Chris Rock, with Kevin James added to the mix.

And while Sony embarked on a consistent marketing campaign for “Grown Ups” that features childhood photos of its comedian ensemble, “Knight” went through multiple TV spots and artwork. Pic’s initial trailer promoted “Knight” as an action-comedy, but subsequent promos have ratcheted up the film’s action sequences.

International campaigns picture Cruise and Diaz posed arm in arm, each touting handguns, playing to the pair’s lucrative appeal overseas; U.S. art is notoriously sans stars.

Overseas prospects for “Knight” look promising as Cruise usually draws top coin in some major markets. Despite the World Cup soccer tourney providing stiff competish for overseas multiplexes, pic launched this weekend in 12 markets, including key territories Russia and South Korea, in which it debuted Thursday.

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