'Fantastic Four' rides wave to top of weekend boxoffice

'Nancy Drew' uncovers $6.8 million

As the summer sequels keep washing up on the shore, 20th Century Fox's "Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer" managed to establish a beachhead this past weekend. Arriving two years in the wake of the original "Fantastic Four," which opened to $56.1 million, the sequel's opening number swelled to $58.1 million as the Marvel super-hero movie took over 3,959 theaters.

Like the original, the follow-up was helmed by Tim Story and reunited actors Ioan Gruffudd, Jessica Alba, Chris Evans, Michael Chiklis and Julian McMahon. It also was able to build interest around the introduction of a new character, the intergalactic Silver Surfer, with movements from actor Doug Jones, voice by Laurence Fishburne and CG work from Weta Digital. But the film also may have gotten an added boost from the fact that it was designed as a family-embracing PG feature rather than a PG-13, the rating that the original carried.

While CinemaScore reported that in its sampling of the audience, 62% were male and 38% were female, the movie drew from all age sectors — 53% were 25 and older while 47% were under 25. Overall, moviegoers graded the movie a B.

By contrast, Warner Bros. Pictures' "Nancy Drew," the weekend's other new wide release, earned an overall grade of A-, but it drew from a much narrower slice of the moviegoing public. The PG detective tale, an updating of the venerable Nancy Drew character, directed and modernized by Andrew Fleming and starring Emma Roberts of Nickelodeon's "Unfabulous," opened in seventh place with just $6.8 million from 2,612 locations. According to CinemaScore, its audience was, somewhat predictably, 77% female and 48% were under 18.

Meanwhile, the Weinstein Co.'s Dimension Films label opened "D.O.A.: Dead or Alive," director Corey Yuen's distaff martial arts movie, on just 505 screens nationwide. The PG-13 film barely caused a ripple, grossing $260,713 for a per-theater average of $516. Aimed at the video-game crowd, the movie will attempt to find a second life on DVD.

Overall, boxoffice was down slightly from 2006 levels for the third weekend in a row. The 117 films tracked by The Hollywood Reporter collected $145.4 million, a decrease of more than 4% from the $151.7 million collected during the comparable weekend last year when "Cars," in its second weekend, was No. 1 with $33.7 million while "Nacho Libre," in second place, proved the strongest of the new releases with $28.3 million.

Among the weekend's holdovers, Warner Bros. Pictures' "Ocean's Thirteen," in its second weekend, lost only 45% of its opening weekend punch. Attracting $19.7 million, it raised its domestic cume to $70.4 million.

However, Lionsgate's "Hostel: Part II," in its second weekend, went into something of a tailspin, falling 63%. The hard R-rated horror movie took in just $3 million to bring its domestic total to $14.2 million.

In its third weekend, Universal Pictures' pregnancy comedy "Knocked Up" exhibited the strongest hold of the top 10. It fell just 28% as it picked up an additional $14.1 million to bring its kitty to $90 million.

Among animated fare, Sony Animation's "Surf's Up," in its second weekend, occupied the fifth spot, grossing $9.3 million to bring its total to $34.6 million.

May release "Shrek the Third" occupied the sixth rung, pulling in an additional $9 million as its cume rose to $297.2 million, leaving the franchise poised to become the second release this year to cross the $300 million mark.

A number of films bowed in exclusive situations. Miramax Films' odd-couple comedy "Eagle vs. Shark" took in $20,361 on three screens, while Roadside Attractions' horror comedy "Fido" notched $10,203 in two theaters.
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