'Harry Potter' subdued by 'Force'

'Prince' finishes second in its sophomore outing

You know it's a competitive summer when not even Harry Potter is wizard enough to repeat as boxoffice champ.

Disney's "G-Force," a 3D mix of family-oriented live action and CGI, debuted at No. 1 during the weekend with an estimated $32.2 million in domestic boxoffice, exceeding even the most bullish projections for the heavily marketed Jerry Bruckheimer-produced pic. Warner Bros.' "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince" finished second after dropping a big 61% from its first Friday-Sunday tally, though $30 million from its sophomore session conjured a magical 12-day cume of $221.8 million.

Sony's romantic comedy "The Ugly Truth," starring Katherine Heigl and Gerard Butler, opened solidly in third with $27 million, and Warners' R-rated horror pic "Orphan" bowed softly in fourth with $12.8 million. Fox's leggy 3D animated feature "Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs" finished fifth, with $8.2 million from its fourth frame yielding a cume of $171.3 million.

The $138 million produced by the weekend's top 10 pics represented a 19% downtick from the collective grosses of top performers during the same frame last year, Nielsen EDI said. But with 2009 boxoffice outpacing last year's receipts by 6% to date, the industry is tracking a bit ahead of last year in admissions after accounting for ticket-price inflation. Ticket prices rose 4.6% in the first half to $7.45, according to the National Association of Theatre Owners.

In a limited bow, IFC Films unspooled the military comedy "In the Loop," starring Peter Capaldi and James Gandolfini, in eight theaters in six markets, grossing $200,816. That represented an auspicious $25,102 a venue ahead of a scheduled expansion Friday into 14 additional markets.

Roadside Attractions' Kevin Spacey starrer "Shrink" opened with single playdates in New York and Los Angeles to gross $17,000. That launched the drama's platform campaign with a solid $8,500 per engagement.

Elsewhere in the specialty market, Fox Searchlight's romantic comedy "(500) Days of Summer" added 58 locations for a total of 85 and grossed $1.6 million, or an impressive $19,176 a site, with a $3 million cume. "Summer" is set to expand Friday to about 300 venues.

Summit Entertainment's Iraqi War drama "The Hurt Locker" added 132 theaters for a total of 238 and grossed $1.5 million, or a sturdy $6,122 per venue. "Hurt's" cume climbed to $4 million.

Sony Pictures Classics' African-concert documentary "Soul Power" added two playdates for a total of nine and grossed $13,035, or faint $1,862 per engagement. "Soul" powered its cume to $81,994 through three weeks of theatrical play.

Helmed by visual effects supervisor-turned-director Hoyt Yeatman, "G-Force" is an action fantasy about guinea pigs trained as CIA operatives. The CGI creatures' voices are provided by Sam Rockwell, Penelope Cruz, Nicolas Cage, Steve Buscemi and Jon Favreau.

Produced for more than $80 million, "G-Force" attracted audiences that were 75% families.

"It played very Disney," Disney executive vp distribution Chris LeRoy said. "It played to moms and dads and kids."

The 3,694 theaters lined up for "G-Force" showed the pic in a total of 1,604 3D auditoriums. As 3D tickets cost more than those for conventional venues, the extra-dimensional grosses from those sites padded boxoffice significantly and compensated for more modest ticket charges on kids admissions.

Rated R, "Truth" was directed by Robert Luketic ("21").

"There's nothing ugly about this opening," Sony distribution boss Rory Bruer quipped. "It really performed as well as we could possibly hope for."

That would seem to be particularly true in light of the film's narrow demographics. "Truth" drew audiences that were 62% female, with 64% of patrons 25 or older.

"Truth" was produced for an estimated $38 million.

Produced by Joel Silver's Dark Castle genre outfit, Warners is only the distributor on "Orphan" and will receive a handling fee but no equity payout.

"It will be a winner for all of us," Warners distribution president Dan Fellman said.

Opening audiences were 58% female, with 63% of patrons under 25.

"Orphan" was directed by Jaume Collet-Serra ("Goal II: Living the Dream").

Warners' lustrous new cume for its latest "Potter" makes for five $200 million-plus domestic grosser this year -- all summer releases.

Meanwhile, "Prince" will be boosted midweek by the addition of 156 high-grossing Imax theaters for a total of 160 Imax venues. That should help it outperform the last "Potter" pic -- 2007's "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix," which grossed $292 million -- by the end of its run, Fellman said.

From the start, "Prince" has been roughly following the theatrical trajectory of the previous franchise release. "Phoenix" fetched $207.9 million during its first 12 days.

Looking ahead, two pics are set for wide release Friday: Fox's family-targeting adventure fantasy "Aliens in the Attic" and Universal's "Funny People," a Judd Apatow-directed dramatic comedy.
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