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Auds get their ‘Man’

Bank caper bags $29 mil; 'Vendetta' legs clipped

Auds turned out for “Inside Man” over the weekend, but “V for Vendetta” isn’t holding up at all.

U’s “Man” posted a $29 million bow, star Denzel Washington’s highest to date. Pic averaged $10,280 at 2,818 playdates to come in just behind the year’s biggest opening, $30 million for “Madea’s Family Reunion.”

Horror pic “Stay Alive” did well with its core young aud, bowing to a better-than-expected $11.2 million, while “Larry the Cable Guy: Health Inspector” failed to pull a Tyler Perry as the pic opened to a modest $7.1 million.

Meanwhile, in its second frame, WB’s “V for Vendetta” fell 52%, grossing $12.3 million at 3,365 locations for a per-play average of $3,663. Cume is $46.2 million.

In limited release, “Thank You for Smoking” continued to do boffo biz as it expanded.

Strong openings helped the biz end its five-week downward streak, posting a 13% gain compared with a weak Easter weekend last year.

Proving moviegoers were hungry for a sophisticated thriller, “Inside Man” outperformed expectations by drawing heavily on adults: 68% of attendees were over 30. Male bias was slight: African-Americans drawn by helmer Spike Lee and star Denzel Washington were overrepresented at 21%.

Washington’s previous best was the $22.8 million opening-weekend take for “Man on Fire” in 2004.

“The combination of director and cast created such curiosity that we somehow managed to outdistance even what we thought,” said producer Brian Grazer.

“Stay Alive,” which Disney distributed and co-financed with Spyglass, got its biggest boost from teens, as the low-budget videogame scarer averaged $5,579 at 2,009 locations. Most industryites expected pic to come in mid- to high-single digits. Its audience was 75% under 25.

Lionsgate’s “Larry the Cable Guy: Health Inspector” failed to draw beyond the comedian’s core aud. Averaging $4,123 at 1,710 plays, pic came in at the low end of expectations even for those who didn’t think it would break out with niche auds, a la “Diary of a Mad Black Woman.”

A trio of comedies had modest drops in fourth, fifth and sixth places. Par’s “Failure to Launch” declined 31% in its third frame to $10.8 million, while Disney’s “The Shaggy Dog” was down 32% in its third weekend to $9.1 million and DreamWorks’ “She’s the Man” fell 31% in its second frame to $7.4 million.

In limited release, Fox Searchlight’s “Smoking” stayed strong as it expanded from five to 54 theaters in 10 cities. Adaptation of the satirical novel averaged $19,630 per play, grossing just over $1 million for the weekend and bringing its cume to $1.4 million. Next weekend, pic adds 64 playdates in 14 more cities.

Sony Pictures Classics opened French import “L’enfant” to a so-so $47,756 at seven theaters, giving it an average of $6,822 per play.

Par Classics’ “Ask the Dust” continued to do weak business as it added 34 theaters in its third frame, bringing its total to 111. Robert Towne-helmed noir grossed $134,000 for an average take of $1,207. Cume is $509,000.

IFC’s “Lonesome Jim” opened to a decent $14,472 at two theaters. Steve Buscemi-helmed 2005 Sundance entry averaged $7,236 per play.

IFC’s “American Gun” had a weaker debut, grossing just $9,711 at four playdates for an average of $2,428. Cume since its Wednesday bow is $10,755.

Despite the frame’s gains, 2006 box office remains 2% behind 2005, according to Nielsen EDI.