'Ghost' riding high at No. 1 as '23' makes $14.6 mil bow

'Farmer' struggles to reap b.o. field

On Oscar weekend, while Hollywood was celebrating the finest achievement in film, the North American boxoffice was rewarding entertainment geared to the masses with Sony Pictures' "Ghost Rider" gracing the top spot at the boxoffice for the second weekend in a row. The new releases couldn't compete with the Marvel adaptation, settling for lesser spots in the weekly boxoffice derby.

New Line Cinema's "The Number 23" got the closest to "Ghost," heading out of the gate neck-and-neck on Friday but lagging behind on Saturday as the market heated up. In the end, the R-rated Jim Carrey starrer fell to second place with a $14.6 million opening take. 20th Century Fox had an even harder time with its Comedy Central TV show adaptation "Reno 911!: Miami." Also rated R, the film opened to $10.2 million for the three-day frame.

Warner Bros. Pictures' "The Astronaut Farmer" struggled in its efforts to lure in audiences. The PG-13 film starring Billy Bob Thornton opened in ninth place to $4.4 million. Bowing in 2,155 theaters, the film's per-screen average totaled a paltry $2,066.

Roadside Attractions and Samuel Goldwyn's film "Amazing Grace," from Bristol Bay Prods., succeeded, bowing in 791 theaters to $4 million and a 10th spot in the rankings. The Christian-themed film about British General William Wilberforce's campaign against the slave trade generated a per-screen average of $5,125.

Last weekend's holdovers held well in the marketplace when comparing the three days of last weekend's four-day holiday frame to this weekend's three-day numbers. Buena Vista's "Bridge to Terabithia" fell a scant 37% for the frame, earning $14.1 million to put its total cume at $46.8 million. "Norbit's" third weekend at the boxoffice was a successful one, dropping 41% to gross another $9.8 million. While lead Eddie Murphy didn't walk away with the Oscar Sunday night, his comedy, from DreamWorks Pictures, has now grossed close to $75 million. Warner Bros. Pictures' "Music and Lyrics" fell 43.8% and grossed another $7.6 million, while Universal Pictures' CIA thriller "Breach" fell 43% and took in $5.9 million.

The holdover with the steepest drop-off was "Tyler Perry's Daddy's Little Girls," which lost 57% of its boxoffice in its second weekend in theaters. The film grossed an additional $4.8 million to put its total cume at $25.1 million.

According to exit pollster CinemaScore, the new release with the greatest audience appeal was Warner Bros. Pictures' "The Astronaut Farmer" with a B+ from audiences. From the Polish brothers, the film was best received by the under-25 crowd but most attended by the over-25 group. "23" rated a B-, according to the pollster. Attended equally by men and women, the film was also best received by the under-25 group but attended more prominently by the over-25 audience.

"Reno 911!" received the lowest CinemaScore, earning a C+ from a primarily male audience. In this case, the under-25 crowd was both the most entertained audience and the one that turned out in the greatest numbers.

After Dark Films bowed its R-rated horror film "The Abandoned" on 1,000 screens to $782,000. The film's paltry $782 per-screen average doesn't bode well for the indie horror distributor.

Picturehouse opened "Starter for 10" on 20 theaters to $37,141. The British comedy grossed a weak per-screen average of $1,857.

Yari Film Group also struggled with the indie release "Gray Matters." The gender-bending romantic comedy grossed $25,711 in 15 theaters to $1,714.
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