Tough ‘Break’ for DreamWorks

Farrelly brothers' hard-R comedy opens soft

Be careful what you wish for.

DreamWorks finally got its first taste of autonomy since being acquired 21 months ago by Paramount. But the results were a little, um, heartbreaking.

With the launch of the Farrelly brothers‘ comedy “The Heartbreak Kid,” DreamWorks debuted its new DreamWorks-Paramount reporting banner, which keeps the B.O. dollars for DreamWorks-produced fare separate from other Paramount-distributed titles.

Trouble was “Heartbreak” was no “Blades of Glory” or “Norbit” — two DreamWorks comedies that helped inflate Paramount’s otherwise anemic box office coffers this year. The Ben Stiller gross-out laffer opened weaker than expected with a soft $14 million and second-place finish, muting what should have been DreamWorks’ celebratory emancipation proclamation.

The good news is that “Heartbreak” did help push DreamWorks and DreamWorks Animation’s combined year-to-date box office over the $1 billion hurdle. But execs had to keep the champagne on ice until Oct. 6, when “Heartbreak” finally crept past the magic number and pushed DreamWorks past the $1 billion mark that had previously eluded the studio.

Nevertheless, most of Team DreamWorks — sans founders Steven Spielberg, Jeffrey Katzenberg and David Geffen — had something to toast at the company’s three-day company retreat, which kicked off Oct. 10 at the Four Seasons in Santa Barbara.