Big ‘Daddy’ can’t conquer ‘X’ appeal

Sony pic cares for second spot

Twentieth Century Fox’s sequel actioner “X2: X-Men United” copped a sequel sesh atop the box office heap, grossing an estimated $41.4 million over the weekend.

A bit more surprising was the strong $27.6 million runner-up haul for Sony/Revolution’s “Daddy Day Care,” as Eddie Murphy-toplined family laffer sent naysaying crix off to sit in the dunce corner.

Mouse House’s “The Lizzie McGuire Movie,” a tweens laffer based on a Disney Channel skein, finished third in its soph sesh despite a big 55% drop to $7.8 million.

Industrywide, the weekend repped an 11% decline from the same frame a year ago with $110 million in total estimated grosses, according to B.O. tracker Nielsen EDI. Weekend compared with a frame boosted by soph-sesh grosses from Sony’s “Spider-Man” and a $14.1 million opening for Fox’s “Unfaithful.”

“X2” added nine engagements this weekend to raise its record theater count to a mind-bending 3,748 playdates.

Solid soph sesh for the most recent Marvel Comics adaptation — despite a 52% drop from opening grosses — brought pic’s 10-day cume to an enviable $149 million. Banked B.O. will come in handy should Wednesday night’s bow of Warner Bros.’ “The Matrix: Reloaded” limit the third-week haul for “X2.”

Nixing the crix

Murphy’s opening with “Day Care” ranked right between topliner’s perfs with similarly targeted “Dr. Dolittle” ($29 million) and “Dr. Dolittle 2” ($25 mil) in 1998 and 2001, respectively. Some observers anticipated the pic would do just that, but its skewering by many big-market crix must have had execs cringing prior to the weekend.

“People want things to bring their family to,” said a happy Revolution partner Tom Sherak, who added that exit surveys showed patrons enjoyed the pic.

“It turned out to be a good date for us,” Sony distrib prexy Rory Bruer observed.

Pic was a good fit with Mother’s Day and bow in a less crowded pre-summer frame proved a sound decision, Bruer said.

Sony is crowding the top half of the B.O. rankings these days, marking three top-five perfs on the sesh.

Shaping up

In a limited bow this weekend, Focus Features’ opened its film adaptation of Neil LaBute’s stage play “The Shape of Things” in 40 theaters and rang up $177,506. That repped an acceptable $4,438 per venue one week prior to pic’s broadening to at least 70 locations.

Paramount Classics unspooled French drama “The Man on the Train” in five L.A. and Gotham theaters and grossed an estimated $45,400. Solid average of $9,080 per venue precedes pic’s expansion Friday to 18 or more locations in seven markets.

Miramax debuted soul-music docu “Only the Strong” with 10 engagements and grossed $16,000, or a scratchy $1,600 per playdate.

Fox’s Ewan McGregor-Renee Zellweger romancer “Down with Love” opened with a Gotham exclu prior to its wide release Friday and grossed an auspicious $44,098.

Elsewhere in the specialty market, Warner Bros. expanded folk-music spoof “A Mighty Wind” wide to 765 playdates and grossed $2.9 million in seventh place. Cume hit $9.3 million through four frames — $3 million more than helmer Christopher Guest’s perf with his last laffer, “Best in Show,” through a similar period.

Fox Searchlight’s femme-soccer drama “Bend It Like Beckham” added 80 runs for a total 563 and grossed almost $1.7 million in ninth place. Perf moved cume to $13.1 million through nine seshes in platformed release.

Searchlight’s John Malkovich-helmed “The Dancer Upstairs” added 50 engagements for a total 63 and grossed $280,000, or $4,444 per location with a $430,147 cume.

United Artists upped suspenser “City of Ghosts” by 10 runs for a total 16 and grossed $53,000, or $3,331 per site with a $120,000 cume.

Miramax drama “The Blue Car” added three theaters for a total nine and grossed $33,000, or an acceptable $3,667 per venue with a $77,323 cume. Distrib also expanded Al Pacino-Kim Basinger starrer “People I Know” by three engagements for a total eight and grossed $28,000, or $3,500 per playdate with a $103,700 cume.

Sony Classics upped docu “The Winged Migration” by one location for a total of nine and grossed $91,226, an impressive $10,136 per site with a $320,633 cume.

And Thinkfilm’s docu “Spellbound” maintained its successful Gotham exclu, with sesh’s $17,693 raising cume to $55,197.