’17 Again’ tops weekend box office

Efron starrer at No. 1 thanks to teens

Weekend results at the domestic B.O. showed femmes under 18 continuing to exert their force at the box office, while New Line continues its enviable winning streak.

Warner Bros. and New Line’s “17 Again,” starring Zac Efron, opened to an estimated $24.1 million from 3,255 locations on the strength of tween and teen girls to land on top. Win came one week after the same audience propelled Disney’s “Hannah Montana: The Movie” to a $32.3 million opening.

Universal’s Russell Crowe starrer “State of Play” opened at No. 2 in a so-so showing. Adult thriller-drama grossed an estimated $14.1 million from 2,803 locations, according to Rentrak.

Sequel “Crank: High Voltage” came in well behind expectations, grossing an estimated $6.5 million from 2,223 locations to place No. 6 domestically. Overseas, however, was another story: Debuting in three territories, pic cumed a healthy $7.8 million at the international B.O.

Even with a few weak spots, it was another boom weekend for moviegoing in the U.S., with revenues up 19% over the same frame last year.

On the specialty side, Sony Pictures Classics’ festival favorite “Every Little Step” scored the best per-screen average of any film at $9,077. Docu grossed $72,616 as it opened in eight theaters in New York and Los Angeles.

At the worldwide box office, U blockbuster “Fast and Furious” was the big winner. Film topped the international chart, grossing $36 million from 5,076 runs in 59 markets for a foreign cume of $145 million. Stateside, pic placed No. 5, declining 55% in its third sesh to an estimated $12.3 million for a domestic total of $136.7 million. Its worldwide tally stands at $281.7 million.

Return-to-youth comedy “17 Again” showed decent traction overseas, where it began rolling out a week ahead of its domestic launch. Film grossed $6 million from 819 playdates in nine markets, led by the U.K. with $3 million and Australia with $1.7 million. Foreign cume is $18.7 million for a worldwide total of $42.8 million.

Domestically, “17 Again” played just as expected, with younger females making up 76% of Friday’s audience. Fan-based films can see sizable drops from Friday to Saturday, but “17 Again” was down just 3%, compared with the 40% drop for “Hannah Montana” last weekend.

“I was looking for Saturday to drop at least 10%. The fact that we held in very tightly at 3% is a positive sign that the movie is playing more broadly,” Warner Bros. prexy of domestic distribution Dan Fellman said.

Outside of “Harry Potter,” Warners isn’t generally known for turning out teen-skewed films like “17 Again.” New Line has been far more friendly to such fare, most recently with the Adam Shankman-directed “Hairspray,” also starring Efron.

Jennifer Gibgot, Shankman’s sister and producing partner, brought “17 Again” to New Line when it was still a standalone studio and suggested Efron for the lead role. New Line greenlit the project, with Gibgot and Shankman producing. Burr Steers directs and Matthew Perry also stars.

When Time Warner disbanded New Line as a standalone studio and made it a label within the WB fold, “17 Again” was among a number of titles that New Line brought with it to Warners. Marketed and distributed by Warners with New Line, many of these titles have gone on to box office success, including “Sex and the City,” “Four Christmases,” “He’s Just Not That Into You” and “Journey to the Center of the Earth.”

“New Line is having a resurgence in terms of its hitmaker status. They are doing just great, and they are very filmmaker-friendly,” Shankman said Sunday.

Universal faced a far bigger challenge marketing “State of Play,” based on the hit BBC miniseries about an old-school journalist who teams with a young blogger to take on an evil corporation and politician. Adult-skewing films that take on politics or current affairs have had a difficult time finding their footing at the domestic box office. Overseas, auds have been more accepting.

Universal and Relativity Media co-financed the film, which cost $60 million to produce, including a hefty payout for Crowe. Box office insiders say U might have hedged its bets more by cutting the production cost. Working Title produced the pic with U.

“State of Play” opened slightly ahead of last year’s “Body of Lies,” a CIA-Middle Eastern thriller that paired Crowe with Leonardo DiCaprio. “Body of Lies” debuted to $12.9 million and grossed $39.4 million domestically. Internationally, pic grossed nearly double that, or $76 million, for a worldwide total of $155.4 million.

U is looking for similar results for “State of Play,” also starring Rachel McAdams, Ben Affleck and Helen Mirren.

“State of Play” opened in three markets overseas to good numbers, grossing $2 million from 375 runs and led by Spain at $1.7 million. Film opens wide in the U.K. next weekend.

Domestically, movie played heavily to older females. Of the audience, 55% were female, while 75% were over age 35. More than 65% of those attending cited Crowe as the main reason for attending, followed by the story (52%).

“The reality is, adults did show up. It’s a smart, journalistic thriller,” said Universal prexy of domestic distribution Nikki Rocco.

Original “Crank” opened to $10.5 million in September 2006. Lionsgate expected the same showing for “High Voltage.” Film played heavily male, while 60% of the aud was under age 25. It also played heavily to African-Americans and Hispanic auds.

“We got our target audience. They just didn’t come in the quantity we thought they would,” Lionsgate prexy of domestic distribution Steve Rothenberg said.

Overseas, “High Voltage” opened No. 1 in Russia ($3.7 million) and in Germany ($3.3 million). In the U.K., it grossed $792,000 to place No. 8.

Among holdovers, “17 Again” took a big bite out of “Hannah Montana” domestically. Pic declined a steep 61% in its second weekend to an estimated $12.7 million from 3,118 runs for a domestic total of $56.1 million. Disney foresaw such a drop but trumpeted the film’s foreign launch in Poland, where it grossed $385,000. Film will expand aggressively at the international B.O. on May 1 as counterprogramming to “X-Men Origins: Wolverine.”

Among other holdovers, DreamWorks Animation/Paramount’s toon “Monsters vs. Aliens” enjoyed another strong weekend as spring break wound down, coming in No. 3. Film declined a mere 41% domestically to $12.9 million for a cume of $162.7 million. Overseas, 3-D toon came in No. 2, grossing $20 million from 7,058 in 58 territories for a foreign cume of $126 million. Worldwide haul is $288.7 million.

“Monsters” and “Fast and Furious” were the only two studio titles seeing major action overseas. “Fast” grossed $5.7 million in its Australian launch, repping the biggest April debut in Oz and the biggest 2009 launch so far. Pic also opened impressively in Italy with $4.2 million.

Disney’s “Race to Witch Mountain” saw good numbers overseas, grossing $5.5 million and narrowly beating “State of Play” in Spain at $1.8 million. Still early in its run overseas, film has a foreign cume of $24.3 million and worldwide tally of roughly $64 million.

Summit Entertainment’s sleeper hit “Knowing” grossed $8.4 million at the foreign box office for an international cume of $54.5 million. Pic came in No. 8 domestically in its fifth week for a cume of $73.7 million and worldwide tally of $128.2 million.

Seth Rogen dark comedy “Observe and Report” fell steeply in its second weekend, declining 63% domestically to an estimated $4.1 million for a cume of $18.7 million in its first 10 days.

While the specialty biz has been struggling in recent weeks, the weekend brought good returns for several titles.

Story Island Entertainment’s “Is Anybody There?” opened to an estimated $45,112 from six runs for a per-theater average of $7,519 and cume of $45,112.

IFC’s Palestinian film “Lemon Tree” grossed an estimated $14,000 as it opened in two theaters.

Samuel Goldwyn/IDP’s “American Violet” opened to an estimated $257,000 from 61 runs for a per-location average of $4,215.

Abramorama docu “Anvil! The Story of Anvil” did nicely in its third frame, grossing $34,293 from six runs for a cume of $85,286 and per-location average of $5,716.