Friday Box Office: Universal's 'Bridesmaids' Heads for a Strong $21.5 Mil Debut

 Universal

Universal’s R-rated female comedy Bridesmaids cashed in at the Friday box office, opening to a better than expected $7.8 million and putting it on course to gross $21.5 million for the weekend.

Bridesmaids wasn’t able to catch up with Paramount and Marvel Studios’ Thor, however. Thor grossed roughly $9.2 million on Friday for a domestic cume of $94 million and pushing its worldwide total past $300 million.

Thor is expected to remain No. 1 throughout the weekend, since it has a broader play than Bridesmaids.

Either way, Bridesmaids is a key win for Universal and director Paul Feig, both of whom took a sizeable risk in making a Judd Apatow-branded comedy about, and for, women.

Bridesmaids stars Kristen Wiig, Maya Rudolph, Rose Byrne, Ellie Kemper, Melissa McCarthy and Wendi McLendon-Covey. John Hamm also has a role.

Heading into the weekend, most box office observers thought Bridesmaids would be a solid player, and gross between $15 million and $17 million. (Baby Mama, rated PG-13, opened to $17.5 million). Its over-performance signals it is working as a counter-programming move.

Females made up roughly 65% of the audience--while a full 77% were over the age of 25 as younger moviegoers continued to stay away from the multiplex. Overall, the audience gave Bridesmaids a B+ CinemaScore.

Bridesmaids cost roughly $32 million to produce, with Relativity Media chipping in some of the financing.

Universal also claimed the No. 3 spot on Friday with Fast Five, which grossed $5.9 million for a domestic cume of $155.1 million. Overseas, Fast Five has earned north of $220 million.

Sony/Screen Gems’ Priest 3D, the weekend’s other new film at the domestic box office, grossed $5.6 million to come in No. 4 on Friday. Sony is now looking at a $14 million opening, also a better than expected showing. The movie, starring Paul Bettany, received a C+ CinemaScore, with the majority of the audience over the age of 25.

Overseas, Priest has gotten off to a good start in Russia and Spain, suggesting it will do more business internationally than domestically. Priest cost $60 million to produce, making it one of Sceen Gems' most expensive pics.

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