'Blades of Glory' skates to top of weekend boxoffice

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Will Ferrell in tights toppled Walt Disney Pictures' latest 3-D effort, but none of the weekend's new releases came anywhere near last year's behemoth opener on the comparable weekend, 20th Century Fox's "Ice Age: The Meltdown," which bowed to $68 million. Still, "Blades of Glory" was able to pull in an estimated $33 million to win the weekend for the Paramount Pictures release of the DreamWorks/MTV Films co-production. And Disney's animated tale "Meet the Robinsons" drew in an estimated $25.1 million for the frame to land at No. 2.

Miramax Films' "The Lookout," the weekend's other new wide release, bowed in 955 theaters to a dismal $2 million, not enough to crack the top 10. Overall, the top 12 films at the boxoffice were down an estimated 14% compared with last year at this time.

Universal Pictures experimented with the rerelease of Sobini Films' "Peaceful Warrior." Bowing in 615 theaters through a giveaway program with Best Buy retail stores, the film grossed what Universal is estimating to be $2.1 million in boxoffice receipts.

The holdovers from last frame had a hard time maintaining audiences, a factor many in the industry attributed to the NCAA men's basketball tournament, which played its Final Four games Saturday night.

Warner Bros. Pictures' "TMNT," which occupied the top spot the previous weekend, dropped a steep 62% in its sophomore session to an estimated $9.2 million. Facing competition from both "Robinsons" and "Blades," the film has grossed $38.4 million in 10 days. Warners is confident, though, that the film will make up its deficit with the majority of school-aged children on spring break this week.

New Line Cinema's "The Last Mimzy" also wobbled in its second weekend; the PG family film dropped a steep 60% to $4 million. From director Robert Shaye, the movie's 10-day cume is $16.4 million.

Fox Atomic's "The Hills Have Eyes 2" fell 59% in its second weekend in theaters. The R-rated horror film earned an estimated $3.9 million to put its 10-day gross at $15.8 million -- the number to which last year's "The Hills Have Eyes" opened.

Paramount's "Shooter" held on the best among the previous weekend's new releases. The Mark Wahlberg starrer dropped 45% to an estimated $8 million; the R-rated film's cume is $27.2 million after two weekends.

Sony Pictures' "Reign Over Me" struggled in its second weekend. In 1,671 theaters, the Adam Sandler-starring drama grossed an estimated $3.7 million to put its 10-day cume at $13.3 million.

Lionsgate Films received dismal results for its second week of the Terrence Howard-Bernie Mac starrer "Pride." In 1,518 theaters, the biopic was down an estimated 58%, grossing $1.5 million. The film's two-week total stands at an estimated $5.8 million.

Meanwhile, the juggernauts of the spring boxoffice held their ground. Warners' R-rated "300" grossed an additional $11.2 million. The Zack Snyder-directed film, which finished in third place overall, has grossed close to $180 million and clearly will cross the $200 million mark. Buena Vista's "Wild Hogs" took the fifth spot for the frame, grossing an additional $8 million. The road-trip comedy has grossed $135.4 million overall.

"Blades," produced by Ben Stiller's Red Hour Films, marks Ferrell's second-highest opening, after last summer's surprisingly large bow of Sony's "Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby," which debuted to $47 million. Made for about $60 million, "Blades" lured in the under-35 crowd in big numbers, which were evenly split between men and women.

The film was down 1% from Friday to Saturday, a pattern DreamWorks spokesman Marvin Levy said is consistent with the performance of Ferrell's last DreamWorks film, "Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy," which earned $85 million domestically after bowing to $28.4 million. With "Blades" opening higher and earning strong marks from critics, the film could reach the $100 million milestone.

Although some had predicted "Robinsons" would emerge as the weekend winner, the film had to settle for second place in the frame. Bowing in 3,413 theaters -- 500 of which were equipped with Real D 3-D technology -- "Robinsons" performed on average 2.5 times better in its 3-D theaters. The studio said it was satisfied with the weekend numbers and believes the A- it received from CinemaScore polling portends good things to come during spring break.

"The 3-D worked out really well, performing similarly to 'Chicken Little's' numbers back in 2005," said Chuck Viane, Buena Vista president of domestic distribution. "But realistically, we got hit by the (NCAA) tournament. Everyone did."

Miramax's "Lookout," from veteran screenwriter-turned-director Scott Frank, generated strong critical response, but the R-rated heist movie starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt was unable to attract a sizable audience. The film, which bowed in 955 theaters, is unlikely to have much of a rebound in its second weekend because the R-rated "Grindhouse," from the Weinstein Co., bounds into theaters Friday and is expected to dominate the very audience "Lookout" is courting.

Universal was encouraged by the results for "Warrior." Spending the equivalent of $2 million in prints and advertising, the studio created a successful online system that effectively lured audiences to theaters.

"Everything I wanted to accomplish with this experiment, we accomplished," Universal marketing president Adam Fogelson said. "There were people out there who assumed no one would go see a film that was already in limited release. This is now definitely a tool that would be worth discussing as a component in a campaign for a larger movie."

In exclusive releases, IFC Films opened Suzanne Bier's Oscar-nominated drama "After the Wedding" in five theaters, where it collected $46,300 for a per-screen average of $9,260.

Milestone Films released Charles Burnett's "Killer of Sheep" on two screens New York on the film's 30th anniversary. The film, which never received a theatrical release because of rights issues, collected $21,500 at the IFC Center in Manhattan, which Milestone said was a three-day, single-screen house record. The film will bow Friday in Los Angeles.

For the week ending Thursday, total boxoffice was $180.4 million, up almost 33% from last year's $146.9 million for the comparable week. The year-to-date boxoffice is $2.01 billion, up more than 6% from 2006's $1.89 billion. Admissions are up more than 2%.
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