A summer of record heat

'Superbad' a rare repeat champ in $4 bil season

A bunch of horny teens managed to vanquish a batch of new releases at the North American boxoffice this weekend as the blistering summer moviegoing season slowed down en route to its Labor Day weekend close. Crossing the $4 billion mark, summer 2007 passed summer 2004 to set a record for the season a week before it officially ends.

Sony Pictures' R-rated "Superbad" collected an estimated $18 million to top the chart for the second weekend in a row. It's only the third film this summer to claim the No. 1 spot for two consecutive frames, following the $300 million-plus sequels "Spider-Man 3" and "Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End."

Three of the weekend's new arrivals were clustered around the $10 million mark, with Universal Pictures' comedy "Mr. Bean's Holiday" the most buoyant, finishing in fourth place with an estimated $10.1 million, followed by Lionsgate's "War" at $10 million and MGM's release of the Weinstein Co.'s "The Nanny Diaries" at $7.8 million. Finishing well outside of the top 10 were the Yari Film Group's dramatic "Resurrecting the Champ," Universal's Latino-flavored "Illegal Tender" and Slowhand Releasing's history-based Western "September Dawn."

Even so, the boxoffice registered an improvement over the comparable frame last year for the seventh weekend in a row. According to Nielsen EDI, the top 10's haul of an estimated $85.5 million was up 12% over the comparable frame in 2006, when Buena Vista's football tale "Invincible" topped the list with a $17 million opening.

"Bean" was something of a wild card heading into the weekend. While awareness of the G-rated comedy starring Rowan Atkinson as a pratfall-prone Englishman on holiday was high, it appeared to be the weekend's underdog because definite interest appeared low. But the film, directed by Steve Bendelack, surprised by grossing an estimated $10.1 million from 1,714 theaters, a per-theater average of $5,904. Given that the movie has already collected nearly $190 million internationally, it's all gravy.

"War," video-maker-turned-director Philip G. Atwell's R-rated actioner that pits Jet Li against Jason Statham, ranked third on Friday but shifted to fifth place over the course of the weekend. Playing in 2,277 theaters, its weekend take of an estimated $10 million translated to a per-theater average of $4,391.

"Nanny Diaries," the film adaptation of the tell-all novel by Emma McLaughlin and Nicola Kraus adapted for the screen by Shari Springer Berman and Robert Pulcini, was the widest release among the new titles, arriving in 2,629 theaters. But the PG-13 satire of child care on New York's tony Upper East Side starring Scarlett Johansson stumbled in smaller towns and could only muster a per-theater average of $2,971 as it collected an estimated $7.8 million for a sixth-place finish.

" 'Nanny Diaries' played very strongly in big cities, and we are hoping that word-of-mouth and our increased targeted marketing campaign will build buzz and turnout in smaller markets across the country," Weinstein Co. co-head Harvey Weinstein said.

The weekend's midrange releases had little to crow about, either.

"Resurrecting the Champ" offered up a serious, PG-13 drama, starring Samuel L. Jackson as a washed-up boxer and directed by Rod Lurie, but didn't prove to be much of a contender. It risked debuting in 1,605 theaters but collected only an estimated $1.8 million for a per-theater average of $1,152.

Universal bowed the Latino crime drama "Illegal Tender," directed by Franc. Reyes, in 512 theaters, where it grossed an estimated $1.4 million for a per-theater average of $2,805.

"September Dawn," Christopher Cain's R-rated look at a 19th century massacre committed by a band of Mormons, bowed in 857 theaters but mustered just an estimated $1.1 million for a per-theater average of $1,226.

In its second weekend, "Superbad" fell by just 46%. Its weekend take of an estimated $18 million raises the comedy's domestic cume to $67.8 million as it aims for the $100 million mark. "We've had an absolutely terrific response from audiences and critics alike," said Rory Bruer, Sony's president of domestic distribution.

Universal's "The Bourne Ultimatum," in its fourth weekend, held down the second slot. Grossing an estimated $12.4 million, it saw its domestic cume rise to $185.1 million.

In its third weekend, New Line Cinema's "Rush Hour 3" ranked third, grossing an estimated $12.3 million as its cume crossed the $100 million mark to reach $109 million — the 19th film this year to cross that mark.

Although it finished outside the top 10, Buena Vista's "Ratatouille" took in an estimated $1.1 million, and its cume now stands at $199 million as it eyes the $200 million milestone.

On the specialty front, MGM's comedy "Death at a Funeral" was off just 16% in its second weekend, as it found an estimated $1.1 million in 261 theaters to bring its cume to $2.9 million.

Roadside Attractions opened Chris Gorak's R-rated thriller "Right at Your Door" in 20 theaters, where it grossed an estimated $31,768 for a per-theater average of $1,589.

IFC Films opened the seafaring documentary "Deep Water," directed by Louise Osmond and Jerry Rothwell, in two theaters, where it grossed an estimated $21,728. The distributor's "Hannah Takes the Stairs," directed by Joe Swanberg, bowed Wednesday in one theater and took in an estimated $6,454 over the weekend; it has grossed slightly more than $10,000 to date.

Samuel Goldwyn Film's "2 Days in Paris," directed by Julie Delpy, expanded to 75 venues, adding 14 new markets. It grossed an estimated $470,641 for a per-screen average of $6,275 and a new cume of slightly more than $1 million. It will move up to 100 screens for the Labor Day weekend.

Warner Independent Pictures raised its environmentally concerned docu "The 11th Hour," narrated by Leonardo DiCaprio, to 20 locations, where it grossed an estimated $70,000 for a per-screen average of $3,500 and a new cume of $150,000. It will move up to 75 runs next weekend.

For the week ending Thursday, total boxoffice amounted to $204.1 million, up 24.6% over the comparable week last year. As of Thursday, the year-to-date boxoffice stood at $6.76 billion, up 7.8% over last year's $6.27 billion. Admissions are running more than 2% ahead of last year's levels.