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CANNES — The mighty Thor and raunchy female comedy Bridesmaids helped fuel a box office rebound in the U.S., even without a new summer tentpole.
Overall, domestic box office revenues were down just 3 percent from the same weekend a year ago, a lower-than-expected drop, considering the two new films — Universal’s Bridesmaids and Sony/Screen Gems’ Priest 3D — were smaller counter-programming moves.
Both titles overperformed, but not well enough to vanquish Paramount and Marvel Studios’ Thor. The superhero pic stayed at No. 1 in its second weekend, declining a respectable 48 percent to $34.5 million for a domestic cume of $119.3 million. Thor is showing glimmers of playing like a family film, with traffic up a whopping 66 percent from Friday to Saturday.
Overseas, Thor grossed $27.5 million for the weekend to push its foreign take to $225 million and world total to $344.5 million.
Universal continued its recent winning streak with Paul Feig’s R-rated Bridesmaids, produced by Judd Apatow. The comedy grossed $24.6 million, instead of the anticipated $15 million to $17 million, a result of getting a reasonable number of males (who made up 33 percent of the audience). It even out-grossed Apatow’s The 40-Year-Old Virgin, which debuted to $21.4 million in 2005
However, Bridesmaids did nothing to ease Hollywood’s worry over the flight of young people from the box office, playing older than expected. Of those buying tickets, 63 percent were over the age of 30, according to Universal, while CinemaScore exit polling showed that 77 percent were over the age of 25. The film received a B+ CinemaScore overall.
Regardless, Bridesmaids is a key vindication for Universal after the dismal showing for recent comedy Your Highness. It’s also a big boost for Kristen Wiig’s film career, and for Feig, who worked with Apatow on Freaks and Geeks.
Even rival studios have been commended Universal for taking a risk and making a raunchy comedy about women since most films in this subgenre have targeted men.
Bridesmaids’ lineup includes Wiig — who also co-wrote the film — Maya Rudolph, Rose Byrne, Ellie Kemper, Melissa McCarthy and Wendi McLendon-Covey. Jon Hamm also stars.
Relativity Media is Universal’s financial partner on the comedy, which had a net budget of $32.5 million.
“It certainly opened bigger than we anticipated,” Universal president of domestic distribution Nikki Rocco said. “Audiences were ready for a super humorous R-rated comedy.”
Bridesmaids will face tough competition in two weeks when Warner Bros. opens The Hangover Part II (some have billed Feig’s pic the female counterpart of Hangover).
Universal also took the No. 3 spot at the domestic box office with Fast Five, which dropped less than 40 percent in its third weekend to $19.5 million. It’s now the No. 1 title of the year domestically, sporting a cume of $168.8 million.
Overseas, Fast Five continued to roar with a weekend gross of $58 million, putting it ahead of Thor and upping its international cume to $271.1 million. The movie’s world total is $440.5 million.
Sony and Screen Gems’ Paul Bettany starrer Priest 3D debuted to No. 4 domestically, grossing an estimated $14.6 million to come in ahead of expectations. Overseas, the $60 million adaptation of the popular Korean graphic novel series is faring better, cuming $16.7 million in its second weekend for a foreign total of $25.6 million.
The opening weekend audience for Priest skewed slightly male, or 57 percent. Roughly the same percentage was over the age of 25.
Sony president of worldwide distribution Rory Bruer said Priest will be a solid performer, considering it’s already made $40.1 million all in.
Priest, receiving a C+ CinemaScore in the U.S., is one of the most expensive movies made by Screen Gems. Directed by Scott Stewart, it was produced by Michael De Luca, Joshua Donen and Mitchell Peck.
Twentieth Century Fox’s 3D toon Rio rounded out the top five at the domestic box office, falling a mere 6% to $8 million for a domestic total of $125 million.
There were a number of limited openings, but overall, the results were soft. National Geographic’s The First Grader grossed $22,568 from three locations in New York and Los Angeles for a location average of $7,523.
Will Ferrell specialty title Everything Must Go, from Roadside Attractions, grossed $825,100 from 218 locations for a screen average of $3,784.
Roadside fared better with holdover The Conspirator, which crossed the $10 million mark over the weekend.
The Metropolitan Opera’s The Met: Live in HD continued to thrive, with Saturday’s broadcast of Wagner’s Die Walküre grossing $2.3 million from 850 screens in the U.S.
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