Princess vs. ‘Prince’ at box office

Women line up for 'Sex 2,' while fanboys favor 'Sands of Time'

Memorial Day Weekend is looking like a battle of the sexes at the domestic box office.

Warner Bros. and New Line will get a shapely leg up on the competish as “Sex and the City 2” launches today at 3,445 salons, while Disney’s “Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time” debuts Stateside at approximately 3,660 locations Friday after last weekend’s solid overseas bow.

“Prince” opened with $18 million on 3,658 screens in 19 markets and will expand to 48 in its soph sesh, including key territories like France, Australia, China and Japan. Pic’s overseas cume totaled $23.7 million as of Wednesday. “SATC 2” debuts day-and-date in several overseas territories.

While Stateside auds may divide along gender, Paramount and DreamWorks Animations’ 3D toon “Shrek Forever After” is also in line to benefit as the frame’s freshest kidpic. Toon enters its soph sesh after a $70.8 million bow for a cume of $81.2 million.

Warner described the Thursday launch for “Sex 2” as a girl’s night out, hoping women will help kickstart the holiday frame.

With sold-out midnight screenings and bubbly advance ticket sales, the sequel has become an event for female auds. Some upscale circuits are hosting catered events, with themed cocktails and menus. Online ticketing services Fandango and both reported approximately 80% of Wednesday’s ticket sales were devoted to “Sex 2.”

Warner said it wanted to capitalize on high-end midweek returns that are typical of femme-driven pics. Studio debuted the sequel at some 2,100 midnight screenings, almost twice as many as the original’s 1,100 locations, which brought in $2.5 million of the total opening day gross of $26.8 million. The first “Sex” installment debuted with $57 million the week after Memorial Day weekend in 2008 for a domestic cume of $152.6 million.

This time around, the pic’s leading ladies — Sarah Jessica Parker, Kristin Davis, Kim Cattrall and Cynthia Nixon — travel to the Middle East for a little R&R. Younger femmes are as interested in the sequel as adult women, with many teens lining up adult escorts for the R-rated sequel.

While “Prince of Persia” should attract a heavily male demo, Disney said it expects to also attract younger women who are fans of star Jake Gyllenhaal.

Based on a popular vidgame, pic tells the story of a prince (Gyllenhaal) who teams with a rival princess (Gemma Arterton) to save the world. Brit thesps Ben Kingsley and Alfred Molina co-star. Produced by Jerry Bruckheimer, pic reps a hopeful franchise-starter for the Mouse House and is directed by Mike Newell.

“Sex 2” and “Prince” enter the holiday frame alongside holdovers, including Par’s duo “Forever After” and “Iron Man 2.” The comicbook sequel earned a weekend take of $26.4 million, bringing its overall domestic gross to $255.1 million. “Iron Man 2” dropped 49% in its third frame, similar to U’s “Robin Hood,” which fell 49% to $18.8 million in its second outing. “Robin Hood” has cumed $69.7 million domestically.

In limited release, Reliance Big Pictures expands its re-edited “Kites” to 222 Stateside locations. The Bollywood pic became one of the first Indian films to crack the top 10, debuting near $1 million at 207.

Sony Pictures Classics will also debut “Amelie” helmer Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s “Micmacs” at two locations in New York. SPC plans to expand the whimsical tale to L.A. and a few other markets June 4.

Overseas, “Prince” has put up strong midweek figures, earning $5.7 million since the weekend. Disney launched the film first internationally in order to lengthen playability before the World Cup next month. Spain and Germany repped the top markets for “Prince” last weekend, totaling $3 million and $2.8 million, respectively.

“Sex 2” will bow this weekend in territories including Germany, Italy and the U.K.

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