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Box office weekend warriors

Crowded field for holiday

Lionsgate’s urban-skewing comedy “Daddy’s Little Girls,” the latest from hyphenate Tyler Perry, got off to a good start on Valentine’s Day, taking in $4.57 million off 2,111 locations for a per-playdate average of $2,167.

Perry has been a February film standout: His last pic, “Madea’s Family Reunion,” bowed at No. 1 just over a year ago to more than $30 million, while his left-field hit “Diary of a Mad Black Woman” surprisingly hit No. 1 with more than $21.9 million in 2005.

Warner Bros. romantic comedy “Music & Lyrics,” starring Drew Barrymore and Hugh Grant, was No. 2 on Wednesday as it aimed for the date crowd: Pic played to $4.15 million off more than 2,900 theaters for an average of $1,419.

Both will take on returning champion “Norbit” at the B.O. this President’s Day weekend along with “Ghost Rider,” “Bridge to Terabithia” and “Breach.”

“Ghost Rider” is the frame’s widest new rollout, gunning into 3,619 theaters in a market blitz. Sony will aim to capture mostly male action auds with the Nicolas Cage starrer about Marvel Comics character Johnny Blaze, a supernatural stunt motorcyclist.

As the frame’s second widest opener, rolling out at 3,139, Disney’s PG-rated kidlit adaptation “Terabithia” will try to court the “Night at the Museum” crowd.

“Night” is still playing about 2,000 locations in its eighth week and remains in the top five.

Universal will be going for more upmarket, review-driven auds with its domestic spy drama “Breach,” which just played the Berlin Film Festival.

Pic comes from Sidney Kimmel Entertainment, which has international rights and rolls out via U in just under 1,500 theaters.

Ryan Phillippe, Chris Cooper and Laura Linney star in the espionage drama.

On the specialty circuit, the Weinstein Co. moves biopic “Factory Girl” from 18 to 336 screens. Movie has been playing well so far in limited release.

Company also opens its Oscar-nommed import “Days of Glory” in a limited run.

On the foreign front, Sony’s “Ghost Rider” looks likely to debut to significant overseas biz with day-and-date openings in Australia, Mexico, Russia, Spain and Taiwan along with about 20 other smaller markets. The Russian launch is the first under Sony’s newly minted partnership with BVI in that market.

“Rider,” which will open in most other foreign markets over the next few weeks, opened in first in Australia on Thursday and will hit around 2,000 international playdates this weekend.

Pic will probably be the first to challenge the recent dominance of “Night at the Museum,” “The Pursuit of Happyness” and “Blood Diamond.” That troika’s finished in the top three slots internationally for the past three weekends.

“Night at the Museum” has been minting money overseas, with first-place finishes in six of the past seven weekends and a foreign cume of $237.4 million as of Wednesday — topping the domestic cume by $4 million. Ben Stiller laffer expands into China this weekend with a fairly wide release at 380 playdates; it also goes into Holland and Belgium, where it took in $112,000 at 85 on its opening day Wednesday.

“Pursuit” and “Diamond” — aided by Oscar noms for Will Smith and Leonardo DiCaprio, respectively — should remain attractive players, with “Pursuit” clearing the $100 million mark in cumulative international grosses over the weekend while “Diamond” hits around $75 million.

The weekend also will see the major foreign launch of Clint Eastwood’s “Letters From Iwo Jima” with openings in Brazil, Holland, Italy, Mexico and Spain. “Letters” has performed impressively in Japan — its only international market so far — with more than $41 million during its two-month run.

Universal saw socko opening-day grosses in the U.K. for cop spoof “Hot Fuzz,” with $1.76 million at 500 on Wednesday; distrib decided to launch “Fuzz” to coincide with Valentine’s Day. Rogue Pictures will open “Fuzz” domestically April 20.

Warner also expanded “Music and Lyrics,” which won in the U.K. last weekend, into Australia and Taiwan on Valentine’s Day.

Other international launches include “Dreamgirls” into Brazil, Japan and Sweden; “The Good Shepherd” into Australia, Germany and New Zealand; and “Norbit” into Malaysia, Singapore and Taiwan.

(Dave McNary contributed to this report.)

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