Auds ‘Break-Up’ with their ‘X’

Laffer sets record, wilts mutants

Jen and Vince slayed the mutants at the box office.

The top two pics set contrasting records. “The Break-Up” had the biggest opening — with $38.1 million — for a romantic comedy in the crowded summer season and the third highest opening of all time for the genre, behind “Hitch” and “50 First Dates.” “The Break-Up” averaged $12,395 at 3,070 theaters.

“X-Men: The Last Stand,” meanwhile, followed its record-breaking three-day bow of $103 million with the largest ever second-weekend decline for a Memorial Day opener, tumbling 67% and landing in second place.

In limited release, docu “An Inconvenient Truth” continues to impress, coming in at No. 9 while playing only 77 theaters.

Universal was the only studio to open a pic wide this frame, as others apparently feared the overhang of “X-Men” and “The Da Vinci Code.” But with both tentpoles fading, the counter-programming strategy worked brilliantly.

In a rarity, most distribution execs at competing studios expressed amazement at “Break-Up’s” bow, which far exceeded tracking that put it in the mid-20s.

“We always loved this weekend for a romantic comedy, especially as we saw that a competitive environment wasn’t developing,” U distribution prexy Nikki Rocco said.

Moviegoers were evenly split by age but were 67% female, indicating “The Break-Up” found success not by expanding beyond typical romantic comedy demos, but by bringing out women en masse.

“X-Men’s” huge drop put its gross at $34.4 million, or $9,249 per play at 3,714 theaters. That’s actually lower than the $40 million second weekend of previous franchise entry “X2,” which opened to $85.6 million, 17% lower than “Last Stand.”

Last frame’s Thursday midnight shows and Sunday evening perfs before Memorial Day hurt the comparison, but it was still a much bigger decline than expected.

Nonetheless, with a $175.7 million cume in only 10 days, Fox execs likely aren’t shedding any tears. It took “X2” until its third weekend to hit that mark.

Even assuming declines stabilize at 40% or 50% going forward, “X-Men: The Last Stand” likely will struggle to hit a $250 domestic million cume.

Family comedies continue to hold extremely well. DreamWorks Animation toon “Over the Hedge” dropped only 24% in its third frame, grossing $20.6 million to land in third place.

That put it ahead of “The Da Vinci Code,” which grossed twice as much on both pics’ opening frame two weeks ago, but is falling much faster. Sony’s adaptation of the bestselling novel was down 43% to $19.3 million, putting it at No. 4.

“Hedge,” distribbed by Paramount, brought its cume to $112.4 million, while “Code” remains well ahead at $172.7 million.

Sony’s Robin Williams starrer “RV” again had the smallest drop in the top 10, declining only 21% to $3.3 million despite losing 300 theaters.

“An Inconvenient Truth” grossed $1.3 million as it expanded from four to 77 playdates on its second weekend, garnering an impressive per-theater average of $17,292.

Par Classics’ Al Gore starrer has a total take of $1.9 million and should double its print count next weekend as it expands from the top 10 to the top 25 markets.

Specialty division also opened Korean import “Typhoon” to a much less impressive $48,216 at 24 theaters, averaging only $2,009.

Magnolia Pictures opened French sci-fi actioner “District B-13” to a weak $410,000 at 151 theaters, or $2,715 per play.

Lionsgate’s adaptation of new-age book “Peaceful Warrior” did a decent $77,000 at 10 playdates, averaging $7,700.

Roadside Attractions opened “The Puffy Chair” to a soft $26,250 from seven theaters in five regional markets, giving it a per-play average of $3,750. It hits L.A. on July 7 and Gotham July 14.

“The War Tapes,” a docu comprising footage shot by soldiers in Iraq, grossed a solid $13,205 at one theater in Gotham, where it was released by SenArt and Scranton-Lacy Films.

Overall, weekend was up 4% from a year ago, according to Nielsen EDI. For the year, 2006 box office is ahead of 2005 by 3%.

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