'Vantage Point' leads boxoffice

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CORRECTED 7:59 p.m. PT Feb. 24

Sony's action-thriller "Vantage Point" took advantage of limp competition to open atop the domestic boxoffice with an estimated $24 million, easily felling its nearest rival.

Fox's action fantasy "Jumper" finished second in its sophomore session with $12.7 million, as a 54% drop from opening grosses yielded a 10-day cume of $56.2 million. Paramount's family fantasy "The Spiderwick Chronicles" rung up $12.6 million on a modest 34% fall in its second outing to grab third place and produce a $43.6 million cume.

The Disney dance sequel "Step Up 2 the Streets" slipped 48% in its second frame to gross $9.8 million for fourth place, yielding a cume of $41.4 million. Warner Bros.' adventure yarn "Fool's Gold" fetched enough coinage from its third weekend to finish fifth with $6.3 million and a $52.4 million cume.

The romantic comedy "Definitely, Maybe" from Universal and Working Title notched a 47% downtick from its opening grosses, counting another $5.2 million in sixth place for a $21.8 million cume.

New Line's Jack Black comedy "Be Kind Rewind" opened in seventh place with $4.1 million from a barely wide 808 playdates.

But Lionsgate's Larry the Cable Guy comedy "Witless Protection" bowed out of the top rankings with $2.2 million. And MGM's Robert Downey Jr. starrer "Charlie Bartlett" debuted with just $1.8 million.

Also, National Geographic Cinema expanded its "U2 3D" concert film into wide release after a previous limited run, grossing $1 million from 686 venues, up from a previous 40. That shaped a cume of $4.9 million.

Industrywide, the weekend's $107 million in collective grosses represented an 8% decline when compared with the same frame a year ago, according to Nielsen EDI. That's the third consecutive year-over-year weekly decline.

Moviegoers' preoccupation with the Academy Awards telecast caused distributors to pencil in lighter grosses than for a typical winter Sunday, but that was true on the comparable frame from 2007. Still, 2008 boxoffice remains 10% ahead of the same portion of last year, EDI said.

Meantime, Oscar's independent-minded batch of best picture nominees grabbed some additional wealth amid the kudos limelight.

Fox Searchlight's "Juno" -- the belle of Saturday's Spirit Awards ball -- wooed another $4.1 million from 1,727 playdates to finish eighth and shape a $130.4 million cume.

"There Will Be Blood" from Par Vantage and Miramax grossed $2.6 million from 1,402 theaters for a 10th place ranking on the weekend and a $35 million cume.

"No Country for Old Men" from Miramax and Paramount Vantage rung up $2.3 million from 1,101 engagements to boost its cume to $64.2 million.

"Atonement" from Focus Features and Working Title scored $1.2 million from 755 locations for a $49.4 million cume. And Warner Bros.' "Michael Clayton" fetched $620,000 from 525 venues for a $48.5 million cume.

"Persepolis," Sony Pictures Classics' Iranian-themed nominee that was in the running for an Oscar, added 324 theaters this weekend for a total of 536 and grossed $441,970. That was just $825 per venue, but the critically praised animated film's carefully crafted platformed campaign has shaped a tidy cume of $3.5 million.

Meanwhile, after giving "The Counterfeiters" an Academy Award-qualifying run late last year, SPC staged a limited bow this weekend for the drama, which grossed $100,469 from eight playdates, or a solid $12,559 per engagement.

The distributor also added 13 locations for a total 26 for its Middle East-themed comedy "The Band's Visit," grossing $143,850, or a sturdy $5,533 per site, with a $449,964 cume.

IFC First Take debuted the Jacques Rivette directed drama "The Duchess of Langeais" in two sites and fetched $22,514, or a notable $11,257 per location.

And Focus' Colin Farrell starrer "In Bruges" added 51 playdates for a total of 163 in grossing $740,586, an acceptable $4,543 per engagement and a $2.7 million cume.

"Vantage Point," starring Dennis Quaid, Matthew Fox and Forest Whitaker and directed by theatrical newcomer Pete Travis, had to overcome some harsh critical reviews. But Sony heavily marketed the film, and its cast pitched in with energetic promo pushes as well.

"We're just thrilled," Sony distribution president Rory Bruer said. "The whole cast worked really hard to make this movie a success, (and) the whole thing has been an adrenaline rush -- just like the movie."

Audiences skewed 52% male, with 51% of "Point" patrons under age 30.

"Rewind," directed by Michel Gondry and co-starring Mos Def, opened about as expected. Audience demos were not immediately available for the film, on which New Line acquired domestic distribution rights for less than $10 million.

"Witless" targeted older males and was always figured to make its most revenue on DVD.

Rated R and produced by Sidney Kimmel Entertainment, "Bartlett" was expected to draw young females, though demos from its opening audiences weren't immediately available.

"This is a picture that by virtue of its appeal to (younger patrons) and its R rating is going to have to hang in there," MGM distribution president Clark Woods said. "We always knew this was a picture we were going to have to work to spread the word in the marketplace."

The weekend haul for "U2 3D" represented a disappointing $1,507 per playdate. The concert pic had been playing since Jan. 23 in Imax venues, some of which are expected to keep playing the film in the coming months. This weekend's wide expansion saw the movie move into digital 3-D venues elsewhere.

"We know this film has a long tail and will play almost indefinitely in select markets," NGC distribution president Mark Katz said.

Looking to next weekend, wide openers include New Line's Will Farrell sports spoof "Semi-Pro," Sony's costume drama "The Other Boleyn Girl" and Summit's Christina Ricci starrer "Penelope."
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