'Proposal' accepted at the boxoffice

11:22 AM PST 06/21/2009 by Gregg Kilday, AP

Sandra Bullock comedy knocks 'Hangover' to No. 2

Moviegoers said yes to Disney's "The Proposal" during the weekend as the debut of the female-skewing romantic comedy topped the North American boxoffice with an estimated $34.1 million, knocking the hard-partying guys of "The Hangover" into second place.

Sony's "Year One," Harold Ramis' burlesque of the early history of mankind and the weekend's other new wide opener, found it tougher going. Unable to overcome strong holdover business from "Hangover" and "Up," it had to settle for a fourth-place showing of $20.2 million.

Among exclusive openings, Woody Allen's "Whatever Works" worked just fine. The Sony Pictures Classics release bowed on nine screens, grabbing $280,720 for a per-screen average of $31,191.

After several weekends in which the domestic boxoffice was down from year-ago frames, ticket sales finally registered an uptick, performing 3%-4% better than they did last year at this time, when the debut of "Get Smart" led the list with a $38.7 million opening.

The holdovers certainly helped. Falling just 18% as it took in $26.9 million in its third weekend, Warner Bros.' "Hangover," with a cume of $152.9 million, hit the $150 million mark faster than any other R-rated comedy. It took just 17 days to establish the record, besting "Wedding Crashers" by 10 days, and is positioned to play well into $200 million territory.

Disney/Pixar's "Up" also continued to glide along. Ranked third during the weekend, it attracted $21.3 million, bringing its cume to $224.1 million as it sailed past the final gross of last summer's Pixar hit "WALL-E."

The PG-13-rated "Proposal," from Disney's Touchstone label and Mandeville Films, resulted in personal best for Sandra Bullock, who plays a corporate exec who forces her assistant (Ryan Reynolds) to pretend they are getting married so she can avoid deportation to Canada. Attracting $34.1 million in 3,056 locations, it easily topped Bullock's previous record opening of $17.6 million, for 2007's "The Premonition."

The romantic comedy also underscored Reynolds' rising star power. He appeared this year in a supporting role in "X-Men Origins: Wolverine," which opened to $85.1 million. The previous opening-weekend record for a movie he headlined was the $23.5 million got for 2005's "The Amityville Horror."

The third film to be directed by Anne Fletcher, produced by David Hoberman and Todd Lieberman, "Proposal" played to an audience that was 63% female. Age-wise, it exhibited wide appeal, with 70% of its audience in the 18-49 category. Moviegoers rewarded it with an upbeat cinemaScore of A-minus.

"I have to lay it at the feet of Anne Fletcher; she made a terrific movie," Disney distribution president Chuck Viane said. "It's a terrific movie, and the word-of-mouth is exceptional. Sandra Bullock and Ryan Reynolds have great chemistry and worked their butts off, and Betty White was the secret sauce in the recipe."

The PG-13-rated "Year One," starring Jack Black and Michael Cera, debuted in 3,022 theaters. Its fourth-place finish and $20.2 million opening was in line with expectations, Sony said. The low-brow comedy played heavily male (57%), with 47% of its audience under 21.

"Although it played a little more male, I like the mix in regard to age," said Rory Bruer, Sony's president of worldwide distribution. "We did seem to get a pretty good piece of the older audience as well."

Sony's thriller "The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3," entering its second weekend, took the fifth slot as it dipped by 52%. Its weekend haul of $11.3 million raised its cumulative gross to $43.3 million.

In ninth place, the second weekend of Paramount's Eddie Murphy comedy "Imagine That" dropped by 44%. After collecting $3.1 million, its cume is a mere $11.4 million.

Rounding out the top 10, Fox's "Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian" ranked sixth with $7.3 million and a cume of nearly $156 million.

In seventh place, Paramount's "Star Trek" picked up $4.7 million, bringing its domestic purse to $239.4 million.

Universal's "Land of the Lost" was eighth with nearly $4 million and a cume of $43.7 million.

Warners' "Terminator Salvation" ranked 10th with $3.1 million and a total of $119.5 million.

Sony's "Angels & Demons" was 11th with a weekend take of $2.8 million and a overall domestic tally of $128.1 million, and it took in another $8.4 million internationally. With an overseas cume of $329.2 million, its worldwide total is more than $457 million.

On the specialty front, Allen's PG-13 "Whatever," starring Larry David and Evan Rachel Wood, met an enthusiastic response in its nine locations as it collected more than $280,000.

"I went to all the theaters in New York where it's playing; there was a real broad audience, and there was a lot of laughter and enjoyment coming out of the theaters," SPC co-president Michael Barker said. "The chemistry between Larry David and Woody Allen can't be beat." The movie will expand to 300 screens July 3.

Here Media and Regent Releasing opened Tatia Rosenthal's stop-motion-animated "$9.99" -- set in a Sydney apartment complex and featuring a voice cast led by Geoffrey Rush -- on two screens in New York and Los Angeles, where it tallied $11,027 for a per-screen average of $5,513. It will expand to additional markets throughout the summer.

IFC Films introduced Tommy Wirkola's Nazi zombie movie "Dead Snow" on one screen in New York, where it grossed $6,037.

In its second weekend, SPC's sci-fi "Moon" pulled in nearly $190,000 on 21 screens for a per-screen average of $8,879 and a cume of $400,076.

The second weekend of American Zoetrope's Francis Ford Coppola-directed "Tetro" grossed more than $55,000 in eight situations for a per-screen average of $6,928 and an $85,803 gross.

Magnolia's documentary "Food, Inc." tasted $280,000 on 51 screens in its second weekend for a per-screen of $5,490 and a cume of $378,000.

In its third weekend, Focus' "Away We Go" grossed just more than $900,000 in 132 theaters. It has picked up nearly $2 million in its first 10 days.

IFC's French import "Summer Hours," in its sixth weekend, picked up another $120,000 on 48 screens. It passed the $1 million mark Thursday and boasts a cume of $1.1 million.

In its eighth weekend, Stony Island Entertainment's Michael Caine starrer "Is Anybody There?" took in just more than $19,000 on 39 screens as its total neared the $2 million mark.
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