‘Superbad’ scores box office lovin’

Sony's raunchy comedy nabs the top spot

Another raunchy Judd Apatow comedy scored at the summer box office over the weekend as Sony’s R-rated teen romp “Superbad” outperformed expectations with an estimated $31.2 million.

Warner Bros.’ Nicole Kidman-Daniel Craig starrer “The Invasion,” proved unable to find an aud, grossing an estimated $6 million from 2,776 runs in its domestic debut. Remake of the sci-fi cult classic “Invasion of the Body Snatchers” placed No. 5 behind holdovers “Rush Hour 3,” “The Bourne Ultimatum” and “The Simpsons Movie.”

Heading into the weekend, New Line’s “Rush Hour” and Universal’s “Ultimatum” were predicted to be in a close race with “Superbad,” produced by Apatow and directed by Greg Mottola. But even the R rating couldn’t slow down the inexpensive laffer, which played in 2,948 locations. Pic cost Sony under $20 million to produce.

Overall, the box office surge continued as the summer wound down, with the top 10 films this weekend up 21% over the same frame last year, when “Snakes on a Plane” led in its bow, according to Rentrak. Summer is running 11% over last year and 6% over summer 2004, the previous record-holder, according to Nielsen EDI.

Helping to fuel the B.O. boom is a strong crop of holdovers, including New Line musical “Hairspray,” which crossed the $100 million mark over the weekend.

Frame produced another milestone in that this summer is the first ever in which two R-rated comedies have opened above $30 million domestically. Universal’s “Knocked Up” — directed by Apatow — bowed to $30.6 million in early June and has grossed $147 million to date domestically.

“Superbad,” starring Jonah Hill and Michael Cera, saw the seventh best opening for an R-rated laffer ever, edging out “Knocked Up.”

Apatow and scribe Seth Rogen shopped “Superbad” for seven years before finding a home at Sony, with every other studio turning down the project because of the risk of making a crude teen comedy with a restrictive rating that makes getting into theaters difficult for the core aud.

“It’s hard to make a great comedy with a PG rating if you have adult subject matter — even immature subject matter,” said Apatow. The R rating allows you to make jokes that reveal characters in an honest way. This is how a lot of young people talk, and if I was trying to dance around that, it would be a terrible movie.”

Sony prexy of distribution Rory Bruer said the studio had expected “Superbad” to hit the high teens or low 20s — in large part because of its rating.

“We didn’t anticipate how broadly the movie would play,” Bruer said.

Roughly 60% of the aud was between the ages of 18 and 30, Bruer said. He attributed the 16% decline from Friday to Saturday to the usual drop seen with teen comedies.

The weekend wasn’t without its sluggish performers.

Warners itself said the perf of “Invasion” clearly showed that the public wasn’t interested. Village Roadshow Pictures was Warners’ co-financing and co-producing partner on the project.

“We were hoping for an audience that didn’t come,” said Warner exec VP of distribution and general sales manager Jeff Goldstein.

Film’s release was delayed for more than a year as the studio and producer Joel Silver tried to address concerns with German helmer Oliver Hirschbiegel’s cut by bringing in Andy and Larry Wachowski, as well as James McTeigue, to do a rewrite and extensive reshoots that bumped up the cost of the pic past the $65 million mark.

Weekend’s other new wide release, “The Last Legion,” also failed to rally, grossing an estimated $2.6 million from 2,002 to come in at No. 12. The Weinstein Co. distributed the pic, made in the vein of Zack Snyder’s “300,” for producer Dino De Laurentiis. TWC didn’t put up any money for the film, whose cast included Colin Firth and Anthony Hopkins.

TWC minimized its risk on “Legion” by limiting P&A spends. As with “Invasion,” pic’s release was delayed several times.

In their second frames, Paramount’s “Stardust” and Sony’s “Daddy Day Camp” continued to lag. “Stardust” declined 43% to $5.2 million from 2,565 locations for a cume of $19 million. “Day Camp” declined 47% to $1.8 million; cume is $8.8 million.

That left plenty of room for other holdovers.

“Hour” took second for the weekend, grossing an estimated $22 million from 3,778 runs. Three-quel declined 55% in its second frame. Cume is $88.1 million.

Coming in next was “Ultimatum,” which declined just 42% in its third frame to $19 million for a cume of $163.8 million. Pic played 3,701 runs.

Taking the No. 4 spot was Fox’s “The Simpsons Movie,” which declined 41% in its fourth frame to $6.7 million for a cume of $165.1 million. Animated laffer played 3,162 locations.

Specialty fare

On the specialty side, Sidney Kimmel Entertainment and MGM’s British farce “Death at a Funeral” debuted at $1.3 million from 260 runs for a per-screen average of $5,012.

Ensemble cast includes Matthew Macfadyen, Keeley Hawes, Andy Nyman and Alan Tudyk.

And a trio of documentaries bowed in limited runs over the weekend.

Picturehouse’s “King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters,” about two men vying for the vidgame “Donkey Kong” championship, grossed $50,294 from six runs in New York and Los Angeles for a per-screen average of $10,059.

Warner Independent Pictures’ environmental docu “The 11th Hour,” produced and narrated by Leonardo DiCaprio, grossed $60,855 from four locations in New York and Los Angeles for a per-screen average of $15,214.

Slowhand’s “Manda Bala,” about corruption and class warfare in Brazil, grossed $13,007 from one screen.

Also among the specialty crowd, Samuel Goldwyn’s dramedy “2 Days in Paris” grossed $180,308 as it expanded to 20 runs in its second frame for a per-screen average of $9,015 and a cume of $447,480. Pic was written and directed by Julie Delpy, who also stars.

Picturehouse’s “Rocket Science,” also in its second frame, grossed $114,453 as it expanded to 40 locations for a per-screen average of $2,861 and a cume of $201,009.

Miramax’s Jane Austen biopic “Becoming Jane,” starring Anne Hathaway, grossed $3 million as it expanded to 1,186 locations for a per-screen average of $2,542 and a cume of $9.1 million.