Femmes shell out $3 mil Wednesday night

Femmes turned out in force Wednesday for midnight showings of “Sex and the City 2,” shelling out $3 million for the Warner Bros. and New Line pic.

Pic, which opened wide Thursday at 3,445 locations, kickstarts the Memorial Day weekend box office.

“SATC 2″ overpowered the original pic’s midnight gross by 20%, which opened on a Thursday night the week after Memorial Day weekend in 2008.

Warner Bros. prexy of domestic distribution Dan Fellman said the sequel’s mid-week launch at 2,100 midnight engagements exceeded studio expectations given that most moviegoers went to work Thursday. “We purposefully opened on a Wednesday to give working women a day of their own before the weekend,” Fellman said.

Online ticketing services Fandango and MovieTickets.com reported wide sellouts for the pic’s midnight screenings. Upscale exhibs like Gold Class Cinemas and ArcLight Cinemas are hosting “SATC 2″-themed events that continue through the weekend. An ArcLight Hollywood rep said the plex sold out nearly all six midnight screenings to sharp-dressed crowds.

The sparkly weekend outlook for the pic was in direct opposition to reviews, which stand at only 14% positive on Rotten Tomatoes.

Mega chain AMC Theaters has seven Manhattan locations with more than 10 opening midnight screenings and 118 showtimes on Thursday.

“Certainly in Manhattan and elsewhere, it’s become more than a movie; it’s become an event,” said Andy DiOrio, AMC manager of corporate communications.

Pic’s Gotham-hosted preem at Radio City Music Hall also was held Wednesday. Stars Sarah Jessica Parker, Kristin Davis, Kim Cattrall and Cynthia Nixon gathered on the red carpet alongside double-decker buses wrapped in “SATC 2″ signage.

Warner expects the late night shows to translate to a strong holiday run. “SATC 2″ goes up against Disney’s guy-friendly “Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time,” which opens Friday at 3,646 locations.

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