‘War’ battles ‘Bean,’ ‘Nanny’ at box office

Late summer entries take on holdover 'Superbad'

A nontraditional martial-arts pic starring Jet Li, the bigscreen adaptation of chick lit fave “The Nanny Diaries” and a bumbling Mr. Bean will all be vying this weekend for summer’s last B.O. sunshine, with holdover “Superbad” still looking super good in terms of playability.

Lionsgate unspools “War,” toplining Li and Jason Statham, in 2,277 theaters. With actioner’s male appeal and testosterone-charged storyline, Lionsgate hopes to edge out the Weinstein Co. and MGM’s “Diaries,” based on the 2002 book by Emma McLaughlin and Nicola Kraus.

Toplining Scarlett Johansson, Paul Giamatti and Laura Linney, “Diaries” debuts in 2,629 locations. TWC has moved the release of the film several times. It did so most recently when Lionsgate relocated “Good Luck Chuck,” starring Dane Cook and Jessica Alba, off the Aug. 24 frame, leaving an opening for a female-skewing title.

Universal-Working Title’s “Mr. Bean’s Holiday,” which returns Rowan Atkinson in the buffoonish role he popularized in the U.K. television series and later in a 1997 Brit feature, could prove a worthy opponent because of its G rating and kiddie appeal. Pic, which has grossed more than $188.9 million overseas, plays in 1,713 locations.

Heading into its second frame, Sony’s R-rated raunchy teen laffer “Superbad” could beat them all if it maintains its opening strength and notable weekday hold. Judd Apatow-produced comedy, directed by Greg Mottola and starring Jonah Hill and Michael Cera, opened at $33 million and grossed an additional $14.1 million this week for a cume of $47.1 million. “Superbad” cost under $20 million to produce.

This weekend’s other two new wide entrants, Yari Film Group’s “Resurrecting the Champ,” directed by Rod Lurie, and Slowhand’s “September Dawn,” don’t have as much buzz.

“Champ,” starring Samuel L. Jackson, Josh Hartnett and Alan Alda, is based on the real-life story of a journo who stumbles upon a homeless man who turned out to be boxing great Bob Satterfield. Drama bows in 1,602 locations.

“September Dawn,” a searing indictment of religious extremism that plays 847 theaters, concerns the 1857 Mountain Meadows Massacre in Utah, when Mormons attacked a wagon train of settlers passing West. Film’s cast includes Jon Voight and Terence Stamp, who plays Brigham Young. The Church of Latter-Day Saints has taken issue with the film for suggesting that Young secretly sanctioned the massacre.

On the specialty front, Roadside Attractions opens edgy thriller “Right at Your Door” in 20 theaters in key markets. Pic, about a dirty bomb going off in Los Angeles, is the first released under Roadside’s new deal with Lionsgate, which picked up “At Your Door” at Sundance.

ThinkFilm opens writer-director Ethan Hawke’s “The Hottest State,” based on his book of the same name, in three Gotham locations. Hawkes also stars in the drama, which toplines Mark Webber, Jesse Harris and Linney.

TWC bows Justin Theroux’s directorial debut “Dedication,” whose cast includes Bob Balaban, Peter Bogdanovich, Billy Crudup and Charlene Biton, in four locations in New York and L.A.

Universal opens Latin crime-filled thriller “Illegal Tender,” written and directed by songwriter-dancer Franc Reyes, in 512 locations in markets across the country.

Two docus are set to open. IFC Films’ “Deep Water,” about a disastrous 1968 round-the-world yacht race, debuts on two theaters in New York and L.A. Screen Media’s “Skid Row” chronicles Pras Michel’s experiment living for nine days as a homeless person in downtown Los Angeles and bows in three locations in L.A. and Gotham.

On the foreign front, “The Simpsons Movie” will aim for its fifth straight weekend victory. Toon cumed $276.7 million internationally and $445 million worldwide as of Wednesday.

Toughest competition will come from Universal’s “The Bourne Ultimatum,” which finished a close second last weekend with $22.3 million despite only 1,394 playdates. Actioner, which has already cumed $34 million, expands in Brazil and Russia.

U will have another contender with “Knocked Up” moving into Germany, Mexico and the U.K. as the R-rated comedy tests the foreign taste for raunch — a tricky area for U.S. films. Recent domestic successes such as “Wedding Crashers” and “The 40-Year-Old Virgin” have grossed significantly less internationally.

“Knocked Up” has cumed a socko $147 million domestically and $18 million overseas, mostly from Australia and Russia.

“Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix” will likely become the eighth film to hit the $600 million mark this weekend with an opening in Greece. Other notable launches include “Evan Almighty” in Poland and Spain, “Hot Fuzz” in Italy and “Shrek the Third” in China.