Warner Bros.-New Line reboot nabs top spot

“A Nightmare on Elm Street” rebooted effectively for Warner Bros. and New Line this weekend at the domestic B.O., scaring up an estimated $32.2 million at 3,332 locations to claim the top spot in the last weekend before the summer onslaught.

Blockbuster season kicked off early overseas, with Paramount’s “Iron Man 2,” which opens Friday in the U.S., bowing in 53 overseas territories for an iron-clad take of $100.2 million.

Domestically, Summit’s kidpic “Furry Vengeance” had a soft launch with $6.5 million at 2,997 locations.

The debut characterized what was an overall modest weekend in anticipation of the Stateside bow of “Iron Man 2.” For the past few years, the summer B.O. season has kicked off the first Friday in May, but this year’s later start meant domestic grosses were down 35% from the same weekend last year, which saw an $85.1 million opening for 20th Century Fox’s “X-Men Origins: Wolverine.”

The specialty scene started to pick up with the bow of Nicole Holofcener’s “Please Give” from Sony Pictures Classics. The sophisticated comedy earned a robust per-screen average of $25,739 for a total weekend take of $128,696 at five engagements in New York and L.A.

“Nightmare” got off to a good start Thursday when it became the highest-grossing horror pic during midnight screenings, with $1.6 million added to Friday’s $15.8 million overall take. Friday repped nearly half of the pic’s total weekend gross, but fell a steep 33% on Saturday. Last year’s scarer “Friday the 13th” dropped a comparable 26% when it launched over Presidents Day Weekend, opening to $40.6 million.

Warner exec VP of domestic distribution Dan Fellman attributed the drop to the film’s anticipation among fanboys, saying, “When you have a franchise, your audience is waiting to get in that first day.”

“Horror movies take their big hit on Saturday,” he added. “Whether its a 26% or 33% drop, it doesn’t change how these movies usually play.”

“Nightmare” received an overall C+ CinemaScore rating, with a slightly better score among its targeted younger demo. The R-rated film, starring Jackie Earle Haley as Freddy Krueger, played best with those under 25 and saw an even split between the genders.

The frame’s other wide release, “Furry Vengeance,” debuted behind two romcom holdovers: Fox’s “Date Night” and CBS Films’ “The Back-up Plan.”

Falling 27% in its fourth frame, “Date Night” earned an estimated $7.6 million, followed by “Back-up,” which dropped 42% in its soph sesh for an estimated weekend take of $7.2 million.

Paramount and DreamWorks Animations’ toon holdover “How to Train Your Dragon” continued to hold strong, commandeering second place in its sixth frame with an estimated $10.8 million at 3,426 engagements, down just 29% for a cume of $192.4 million.

Other 3D holdovers, including Disney’s “Alice in Wonderland” and Warner’s “Clash of the Titans,” grossed $1.5 million and $5.9 million, respectively. Cume for “Clash” reached $154 million, while “Alice” became the Mouse House’s third highest-grosser with $329.7 million. The 3D fantasy surpassed the $328.5 million benchmark set by “The Lion King” in 1994.

Boffo opera

The Met’s live HD transmission of Rossini’s “Armida” scored $2.2 million on more than 600 live broadcast screens. “Armida,” starring Renee Fleming, ends a record-breaking season for the Met, with 2.2 million tickets sold compared to last year’s 1.8 million. An average ticket costs $20, totalling a season take of $44 million.

Peter Gelb, exec producer and g.m. for the Met, described the live broadcast as “a rare development in the realm of non-profit performing arts.”

“The Met has worldwide appeal with a global radio audience,” Gelb added. “What has been somewhat of a surprise is the appeal of a live moviegoing experience.”

The Met is seen in more than 1,200 locations in 44 countries. Spain and Portugal will join the network next season, which runs Sept.-May.

Anchor Bay expanded indie drama “City Island” to 269 locations in 85 U.S. markets, up 192 from last weekend. Rollout marks the widest expansion for the distrib, resulting in an estimated weekend gross of $756,000. Pic has cumed $2.1 million.

Samuel Goldwyn and Destination Films bowed its Michael Caine-starrer “Harry Brown” at 19 locations for a per-screen average of $9,525. Brit thriller, about an elderly man who retaliates against gang violence, debuted with an estimated. $180,957. Distribs plan to expand the film to 10 major U.S. markets on May 14.

3D holds overseas

Overseas holdovers were forced to play second fiddle to “Iron Man 2,” but 3D films were the most resilient.

Disney’s “Alice in Wonderland” held best as Japan, the film’s top territory, has yet to bow the comic book sequel. “Alice” earned $12.7 million in that territory, with a substantial 16% uptick during the Golden Week holiday.

Despite “Iron Man 2″ launching in both Brazil and Spain, “Alice” grossed in those territories an estimated $4.3 million and $3.3 million, respectively.

Pic’s top three markets accounted for 90% of the weekend gross, boosting its international cume to $591 million.

Warner’s “Clash” followed with a total $18.4 million on 8,000 screens in 61 markets. The epic’s 3D share accounted for $12.8 million on some 4,200 3D-equipped screens, approximately 52% of the total international count. “Clash” has cumed $273.8 million so far, with more than half attributed to the film’s 3D component.

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