'Greek' rocks but 'Shrek' reigns at No. 1

Four feature debuts can't shake Ogre's three-peat at the top

The newbies didn't come close.

Universal's "Get Him to the Greek," an R-rated comedy about a drug-addled rocker, knocked off Lionsgate's action comedy "Killers" and two other wide openers but failed to keep DreamWorks Animation's 3D laugher "Shrek Forever After" from three-peating atop the domestic boxoffice with room to spare. The leggy Paramount-distributed pic fetched an estimated $25.3 million during the weekend for $183 million in cumulative coin through its third frame.

Starring British actor and comedian Russell Brand, "Greek" rung up $17.4 million in second place, while "Killers" -- toplined by Ashton Kutcher and Katherine Heigl -- registered $16.1 million in third place. Fox's live-action family comedy "Marmaduke" bowed limply with $11.3 million in sixth, and Warner Bros.-distributed sci-fi thriller "Splice" pieced together just $7.5 million to open in eighth.

Disney's "Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time" fell 54% in its second weekend to $13.9 million in fourth place with a $59.5 cume. One rung lower, Warners' "Sex and the City 2" wooed $12.7 million for cume of $73.4 million, as a big-but-not-ugly 59% sophomore session drop bolstered exec hopes of developing a recast franchise prequel.

Rentrak said the weekend top 10 rung up $120 million, or 24% less than top performers in a comparable frame last year, with industryites lost to explain yet another weak session in a soft start to the summer boxoffice.

In a limited bow, Vitagraph/Phase 4's romantic comedy "Finding Bliss" found a thin $2,400 in a single New York venue.

Elsewhere in the specialty market, "Micmacs" -- a dark comedy distributed by Sony Pictures Classics and Entertainment One in the U.S. and Canada, respectively -- added 31 playdates for a total 35 and grossed $140,434. That represented a sturdy $4,012 per engagement, as the cume for "Micmacs" climbed to $208,673.

"Shrek Forever After" appears on track for a domestic campaign of at least $250 million-plus, though DWA marketing maven Anne Globe declined to project its ultimate performance.

"The movie continues to hold very strongly," Globe allowed.

"Shrek the Third" rung up $322.7 million in summer 2007; "Shrek 2" registered a franchise-best $441.2 million three summers earlier.

The "Greek" cast also includes Jonah Hill ("Funny People"), Sean Combs and Rose Byrne ("Knowing"). Nick Stoller -- who directed Brand in the same rock star role in 2008's "Forgetting Sarah Marshall" -- helmed the well-reviewed pic, with Judd Apatow among its producers. Opening audiences skewed 53% male, with 45% of patrons aged 30 or older.

"It's in the wheelhouse of what we thought the opening would be," Uni distribution president Nikki Rocco said. "That bodes well, as I think the word of mouth is going to be very, very strong."

"Greek" was produced for an estimated $40 million.

Rated PG-13, "Killers" was directed by Robert Luketic ("The Ugly Truth"). Critics were denied prerelease screenings of the pic, which drew opening audiences comprised 62% of females with 50% of patrons under age 25.

Lionsgate CEO Jon Feltheimer recently said "Killers" likely would lose money if it didn't open with at least $20 million. But execs will hope the pic proves sufficiently playable to limit any loss.

"I was happy that we were up 11% on Saturday over Friday," Lionsgate distribution topper David Spitz said.

Tom Dey ("Failure to Launch") helmed "Marmaduke." The PG-rated pic co-stars Lee Pace ("When in Rome") and Judy Greer ("Barry Munday") with Owen Wilson voicing Marmaduke, one of several talking pets featured in the mutts-vs.-pedigrees yarn.

Family moviegoers dominated opening audiences, which were comprised 61% of females with 57% of patrons under age 25.

"The opening was within our expectations," Fox senior vp distribution Bert Livingston said. "And with kids out of school, every day is a Saturday, so it's a solid start."

An inexpensive but heavily marketed pickup by genre vet Joel Silver, "Splice" stars Adrien Brody and Sarah Polley ("Mr. Nobody") with Vincenzo Natali ("Nothing") directing. Its audiences skewed 58% male, with 62% of pic patrons aged 25 or older.

"We're disappointed that the film didn't do better," Warners exec vp distribution Jeff Goldstein said.

Looking ahead, two films open wide on Friday: Fox's big screen adaptation of classic TV series "The A-Team" and Sony's remake of "The Karate Kid," with Jaden Smith and Jackie Chan.
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