'Disturbia' tops slow b.o. race pre-'Spidey 3'

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The North American boxoffice appeared to be marking time during the weekend as if waiting for Friday's expected blowout, when Sony Pictures' "Spider-Man 3" comes knocking. None of a weak array of new arrivals managed to break through the $10 million barrier, so the teen thriller "Disturbia" remained king of the hill for the third frame in a row.

Of the newcomers, Buena Vista Pictures' "The Invisible," tapping into the same younger audience as "Disturbia," ranked second overall with an estimated $7.6 million. The Nicolas Cage sci-fi thriller "Next," from Paramount Pictures and Revolution Studios, had to settle for third place and an estimated $7.2 million, while the "Stone Cold" Steve Austin actioner "The Condemned," from Lionsgate, entered the list in ninth place with an estimated $4 million. As for the Yari Film Group's "Kickin' It Old Skool," starring Jamie Kennedy, it finished outside the top 10 with an estimated $2.8 million.

According to Nielsen EDI, the weekend represented a 23% drop from the comparable weekend last year, when Sony's "RV" led the pack with $16.4 million. But though the past two weekends have shown steep declines from last year, the spring season, which began March 9 and concludes Thursday, has set record numbers. With $1.231 billion in Hollywood's coffers, this spring is outpacing the record spring of 2004 that took in $1.2 billion. And while that year "The Passion of the Christ" dominated as the top grosser with $370.3 million, this year the wealth has been spread around a bit more since top grosser "300" has accounted for $207 million.

For Paramount, it was a good news/bad news weekend. The studio's "Disturbia," from DreamWorks and Montecito Pictures, ranked first for the third weekend in a row as it fell just 30% while taking in an estimated $9.1 million.

Directed by D.J. Caruso and starring Shia LaBeouf as a housebound teen who suspects a neighbor of murder, the film -- written by Christopher Landon and Carl Ellsworth -- crossed the $50 million mark, hitting an estimated $52.2 million.

But Paramount's release of "Next," a thriller directed by Lee Tamahori ("Die Another Day"), generated little excitement. The $7.2 million it found in 2,725 theaters was a dramatic comedown from Cage's previous opening, the February launch of the Marvel adaptation "Ghost Rider," which bowed to $45.4 million. It even trailed such disappointing Cage bows as last year's "The Wicker Man," with its first-weekend take of $9.6 million, and 2005's "Lord of War," which claimed $9.4 million in its first weekend. It also represented another poor showing from Revolution, whose thriller "Perfect Stranger" fell out of the top 10 in its third weekend; its estimated $2.2 million brought that film's domestic cume to just $21.6 million.

Still, Paramount, which has enjoyed a buoyant spring, could point to the fact that it had three films in the top five during the weekend -- its release of the DreamWorks/MTV Films comedy "Blades of Glory" earned the fifth spot with an additional $5.2 million, bringing its cume to $108.1 million.

As the spring season heads to a close, Paramount is the market-share leader among the studios, the first time it has been in that position since 2001. However, with Sony nipping at its heels, "Spider-Man" will boost Sony into the lead position this weekend.

"Invisible," from the Walt Disney Studios' Hollywood Pictures and Spyglass Entertainment, escaped invisibility with its second-place showing. The film, directed by fan favorite David S. Goyer ("Blade: Trinity"), which at one point was to have opened opposite "Disturbia," distanced itself from that film by a few weeks and appeared to benefit from the move. The PG-13 account of a seemingly dead teen, played by Justin Chatwin ("War of the Worlds"), who must solve the mystery of his own death bowed in 2,019 theaters, posting the best per-theater average ($3,767) of the top 10 films.

Hard-core action fans didn't show up in any significant numbers for the R-rated "Condemned." The tale of a prisoner (Austin) who must fight for his life against nine other condemned killers on a desert island, director Scott Wiper's ("A Better Way to Die") movie eked out $4 million in 2,310 theaters for a per-screen average of $1,732.

The PG-13 comedy "Kickin' It" found even less traction. Although Kennedy's last vehicle, "Malibu's Most Wanted," bowed to $12.6 million in 2003 in 2,503 theaters, the comic's latest turn as a 1980s break dancer just recovered from a coma elicited few laughs. Yari booked the comedy into 1,816 theaters, but its weekend tally of $2.8 million resulted in a per-theater average of $1,542.

Moviegoers looking for laughs did seek out the second weekend of the cop comedy "Hot Fuzz." Focus Features' Rogue label added 447 theaters to bring the count to 1,272. With an estimated weekend number of $4.8 million, the comedy, in seventh place overall, took in $3,758 per screen to bring its cume to date to an estimated $12.4 million.

Meanwhile, in its second weekend, New Line Cinema's legal thriller "Fracture" fell 36%, capturing an estimated $7.1 million to bring its purse to date to $21.3 million.

Rounding out the top 10, Buena Vista's animated "Meet the Robinsons," in sixth place, found an estimated $4.8 million, bringing its total to $88.4 million. Sony's "Vacancy," in eighth place, grabbed an estimated $4.2 million for a $13.9 million total, while Sony's "Are We Done Yet?" arrived in 10th place with an estimated $3.4 million for a total of $43.8 million.

Among exclusive releases, Sony Pictures Classics' "Jindabyne," an adaptation of a Raymond Carver short story directed by Ray Lawrence, found $30,243 on six screens for a per-screen average of $5,041.

ThinkFilm launched "Zoo," Robinson Devor's documentary about man-horse love, at the IFC Center in Manhattan, where it notched $8,500. Opening on Wednesday, its five-day cume stands at $10.610.

For the week ending Thursday, total boxoffice amounted to $116.9 million, down more than 16% from the comparable week in 2006, which brought in $23.1 million. For the year to date, boxoffice stands at $2.66 billion, up nearly 5% over 2006's $2.54 billion. Admissions are up more than 1% compared with last year.
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