It's all good for 'Superbad' as comedy beats estimate


Upbeat word-of-mouth appears to be enveloping Sony Pictures' "Superbad," the latest R-rated comedy from the Judd Apatow combine. The tale of a couple of horny teens debuted in 2,948 theaters in North America this weekend to the tune of $33.1 million.

The film managed to outgross the studio's Sunday estimate of $31.2 million by nearly $2 million because ticket sales for "Superbad" were off just 2% on Sunday from Saturday's level; the drop on a typical film from Saturday to Sunday is 20% or more. Sony cited the Sunday performance as a testament to "fantastic word-of-mouth."

Starring relative unknowns Jonah Hill and Michael Cera, directed by Greg Mottola and produced by Apatow, the film did appear to find favor with moviegoers. Surveying its opening-weekend audience, CinemaScore reported that audiences broke down 57%-43% male over female, that 58% of the audience was younger than 25 and that respondents awarded the film an A-minus overall.

By contrast, Warner Bros. Pictures' sci-fi remake "The Invasion," which also debuted Friday, generated little excitement. The fourth screen incarnation of Jack Finney's novel "The Body Snatchers," the R-rated film, starring Nicole Kidman and Daniel Craig and directed -- for the most part -- by Oliver Hirschbiegel, had to settle for a grade of C from the audience that CinemaScore sampled, which skewed slightly more male than female and older than 25. Grossing slightly less than $6 million for the weekend, the film ranked fifth.

"The Last Legion," the weekend's other new wide arrival, proved even less of a boxoffice force. From the Dino De Laurentiis Co. and released by the Weinstein Co., the twilight-of-the-Roman Empire actioner, directed by Doug Lefler and starring Colin Firth, bowed in 12th place with a mere $2.7 million.

Still, the boxoffice for the frame remained buoyant. In its second weekend, New Line Cinema's comic "Rush Hour 3" fell 57% but turned in a solid second-place showing, grossing an additional $21.4 million to raise its 10-day domestic gross to $87.7 million. In its third weekend, Universal Pictures' adrenaline-charged "The Bourne Ultimatum" took in $19.9 million, finishing in third place and raising its domestic cume to $164.7 million. And in its fifth frame, New Line's musical "Hairspray" entered the $100 million club with a weekend haul of $4.5 million that took its cume to $100.8 million.

As a result, the industry witnessed its sixth weekend in a row in which overall boxoffice improved upon the comparable weekend last year. This frame, the 111 films tracked by The Hollywood Reporter grossed $130 million, up more than 17% over the $110.7 collected during the comparable weekend last year.

In the limited-release arena, Miramax Films added 585 theaters to its run of the period romance "Becoming Jane." The additional theaters allowed the film to hold steady against its previous weekend returns as it grossed $2.9 million to bring its cume to slightly more than $9 million.

MGM launched Sidney Kimmel Entertainment's dark comedy "Death at a Funeral," directed by Frank Oz, in 260 theaters, where it grossed $1.3 million for a per-theater average of $5,000.

Paramount Vantage expanded its environmentally minded nature docu "Arctic Tale" into an additional 203 theaters, but even with its Starbucks promotion, the film found few takers -- grossing $207,346 for the frame, raising its cume to just $369,592.

On the exclusive front, Warner Independent Pictures' "The 11th Hour," which also concerns the environment, grossed $60,853 in its four-theater launch. And Picturehouse' "The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters," a docu about video gamers, found $51,493 in its five-theater bow.