It's all good for 'Superbad' as comedy beats estimate

Tiny Sun. drop fuels $33.1 mil bow

Upbeat word-of-mouth appears to be enveloping Sony Pictures' "Superbad," the latest R-rated comedy from the Judd Apatow combine. The tale of a couple of horny teens debuted in 2,948 theaters in North America during the weekend to the tune of $33.1 million.

The film managed to outgross the studio's Sunday estimate of $31.2 million by nearly $2 million because ticket sales for "Superbad" were off just 2% on Sunday from Saturday's level; the drop on a typical film from Saturday to Sunday is 20% or more. Sony cited the Sunday performance as a testament to "fantastic word-of-mouth."

Starring relative unknowns Jonah Hill and Michael Cera, directed by Greg Mottola and produced by Apatow, the film appeared to find favor with moviegoers. Surveying its opening-weekend audience, CinemaScore reported that audiences broke down 57%-43% male over female, that 58% of the audience was younger than 25 and that respondents awarded the film an A-minus overall.

By contrast, Warner Bros. Pictures' sci-fi remake "The Invasion," which also debuted Friday, generated little excitement. The fourth screen incarnation of Jack Finney's novel "The Body Snatchers," the R-rated film, starring Nicole Kidman and Daniel Craig and directed — for the most part — by Oliver Hirschbiegel, had to settle for a grade of C from the audience that CinemaScore sampled, which skewed slightly more male than female and older than 25. Grossing slightly less than $6 million for the weekend, the film ranked fifth overall.

"The Last Legion," the weekend's other new wide arrival, proved even less of a boxoffice force. From the Dino De Laurentiis Co. and released by the Weinstein Co., the twilight-of-the-Roman Empire actioner, directed by Doug Lefler and starring Colin Firth, bowed in 12th place with a mere $2.7 million.

Still, the boxoffice for the frame remained buoyant. In its second weekend, New Line Cinema's "Rush Hour 3" fell 57% but turned in a solid second-place showing, grossing an additional $21.4 million to raise its 10-day domestic gross to $87.7 million. In its third weekend, Universal Pictures' adrenaline-charged "The Bourne Ultimatum" took in $19.9 million, finishing in third place and raising its domestic cume to $164.7 million. And in its fifth frame, New Line's musical "Hairspray" entered the $100 million club with a weekend haul of $4.5 million to take its cume to $100.8 million.

As a result, the industry witnessed its sixth weekend in a row in which overall boxoffice improved upon the comparable weekend last year. This frame, the 111 films tracked by The Hollywood Reporter grossed $130 million, up more than 17% over the $110.7 collected during the comparable weekend last year.

In the limited-release arena, Miramax Films added 585 theaters to its run of the period romance "Becoming Jane." The additional theaters allowed the film to hold steady against its previous-weekend returns as it grossed $2.9 million to bring its cume to slightly more than $9 million.

MGM launched Sidney Kimmel Entertainment's dark comedy "Death at a Funeral," directed by Frank Oz, in 260 theaters, where it grossed $1.3 million for a per-theater average of $5,000.

Paramount Vantage expanded its environmentally minded nature documentary "Arctic Tale" into an additional 203 theaters, but even with its Starbucks promotion, the film found few takers — grossing $207,346 for the frame, raising its cume to just $369,592.

On the exclusive front, Warner Independent Pictures' "The 11th Hour," which also concerns the environment, grossed $60,853 in its four-theater launch. And Picturehouse' "The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters," a docu about video gamers, found $51,493 in its five-theater bow.
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