'Forbidden Kingdom' rules boxoffice
Empty"The Forbidden Kingdom," from Lionsgate and the Weinstein Co., traveled to the top of the domestic boxoffice during the weekend, bowing with an estimated $20.9 million.
Universal's R-rated comedy "Forgetting Sarah Marshall" grabbed the frame's silver medal with a memorable $17.3 million in opening grosses. Sony Screen Gems' horror film "Prom Night" saw a 56% drop over its sophomore session but still finished third with $9.1 million, good for a $32.6 million cume.
Sony's Al Pacino thriller "88 Minutes" debuted in fourth place with $6.8 million. "Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed," a Ben Stein-narrated documentary about critics of the intelligent-design theory of creation, bowed in ninth place with $3.2 million from 1,052 playdates.
Among other holdovers, the cop drama "Street Kings" from Fox Searchlight and Regency fell 68% from its opening grosses to ring up $4 million in sixth place and produce a $19.9 million cume. The Miramax drama "Smart People" tumbled from the top 10 on a 61% decline in its second weekend to $1.6 million, with a $6.8 million cume.
Industrywide, the weekend's $92 million in collective grosses marked a 4% increase from the same frame a year go, according to Nielsen EDI data. That represents only the second year-over-year weekend uptick in the past 10 sessions. Year-to-date, 2008 trails the same portion of last year by 3%, at $2.43 billion, Nielsen said.
In a limited bow for the weekend, the Weinstein Co.'s documentary "Where in the World Is Osama bin Laden?" grossed $143,299 from 102 theaters, or $1,405 per venue.
IFC Films' thriller "Anamorph" unspooled in a single venue and grossed $3,024.
Elsewhere in the specialty market, the Overture drama "The Visitor" visited an additional 14 locations for a total of 18 to gross $163,000, or a solid $9,056 per site, with a cume of $280,437.
Sony Pictures Classics' Holocaust drama "The Counterfeiters" mounted a 23-screen expansion over the Passover session for a total of 170 engagements, grossing $250,070, or $1,471 per venue, with a $3.8 million cume.
The Weinstein Co.'s Spanish-language drama "Under the Same Moon" added four theaters for a total of 454 and grossed $554,667, or $1,222 per venue, with an $11.2 million cume.
Directed by Rob Minkoff ("Stuart Little"), "Kingdom" drew audiences skewing 58% male, with 54% of patrons under age 25.
"We achieved our purposes," Lionsgate distribution president Steve Rothenberg said. "We got the older, martial arts crowd who have been following Jet Li and Jackie Chan for years, and the PG-13 rating helped us also get the teenaged crowd."
"If you get Jackie and Jet in the same movie, you have boxoffice gold," Weinstein Co. co-topper Harvey Weinstein said.
Produced on a shared budget estimated at $55 million, "Kingdom" represented a first film financing through the Weinstein Co.'s recently unveiled $285 million Asian fund.
"Marshall," whose producers included comedy dynamo Judd Apatow, was written by topliner Jason Segel and co-stars Kristen Bell ("Veronica Mars"). Nick Stoller, previously a screenwriter on films including "Fun With Dick and Jane," copped a first-time directing credit.
"It certainly opened to the high end of our expectations," Universal distribution president Nikki Rocco said.
The solid opening for the modestly budgeted film was particularly gratifying considering its restricted rating and the recently slack marketplace, Rocco added.
Late pre-release tracking had been a little light. But Apatow films do tend to be tough to forecast, and a debut of at least in the low- to mid-teen millions had been expected.
"Marshall" skewed 53% female, with 56% of patrons under age 30. That was fairly typical for an Apatow comedy, though it seemed to play just a bit younger than the producer's previous films like "Knocked Up."
Sony didn't survey "88" audiences for demographic data. Distribution president Rory Bruer said the studio expected to "come out fine" on the Jon Avnet-directed film, which Sony picked up for $5 million.
"The performance was kind of in line with our expectations," Bruer said.
"Expelled" was heavily marketed to church groups and was expected to play best in the Bible Belt and other heartland states. But demo breakdowns of its opening audiences were unavailable.
The "Expelled" bow was the best ever for an April documentary, outpacing a $2.1 million debut by New Line's "The Real Cancun" in 2003, Nielsen said.
Looking ahead, Friday will see Universal unspool "Baby Mama," a PG-13 comedy likely to skew more heavily female than "Marshall." Also, Warner Bros. is set to bow the stoner comedy "Harold & Kumar Escape From Guantanamo Bay," and Fox will debut the broadly targeted crime thriller "Deception."