Looks like a pot of gold for 'Pineapple'

Stoner comedy inhales $12.2 mil Wed.; 'Sisterhood 2' should stitch together solid bow

As the boxoffice wags are putting it, "Wednesday is the new Friday."

That's certainly the case for the next few weeks as wide openers and even some limited releases unspool midweek to maximize playtime before September's return to the classroom for the nation's college students and schoolkids.

Sony opened the R-rated stoner comedy "Pineapple Express" on Wednesday, while Warner Bros. debuted the female-skewing PG-13 sequel "The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2." The former rang up an estimated $12.2 million in first-day grosses — helped by 12:01 a.m. showtimes in 750 venues — and the latter fetched an estimated $5 million, with just a smattering of midnight showings.

"Pineapple" seems destined for as much as $30 million this weekend and $40 million or more for its first five days. That's likely plenty to win the weekend; Warners' Batman behemoth "The Dark Knight" is unlikely to top $25 million during its fourth frame.

"Dark Knight" grossed $5 million Wednesday to push its domestic cume to $410.7 million.

"Sisterhood 2" follows a June 2005 original that bowed with $9.8 million during its first weekend en route to $39.1 million domestically. Tracking shows the sequel, starring Amber Tamblyn, Alexis Bledel, America Ferrera and Blake Lively, in line for a first-weekend haul in the teen millions and a five-day gross north of $20 million.

Alcon Entertainment financed the first film entirely and was a 50% co-financier of the sequel, also covering prints and advertising. Alcon co-presidents Andrew Kosov and Broderick Johnson said the first "Sisterhood" cost $23.5 million to produce and the sequel $26.5 million.

"We said if for some reason we do no better than the first picture — even though there's no reason for that to happen — we don't want to spend any more money," Kosov said.

Johnson said the film's mid-August slotting sets up "Sisterhood 2" for a potentially leggy late-summer run. "The competitive profile of the following weeks looks very favorable," he said.

Speaking of strong legs, Universal will be hoping to mount a sturdy second session for its adventure threequel "The Mummy: Curse of the Dragon Emperor," whose soft domestic bow totaling $40.5 million last weekend was in marked contrast to its robust first-weekend tallies overseas.

Universal hopes that a decent sophomore session can restore some luster to the film's domestic run, but it's entirely possible that it will fall to third place this weekend after opening in second behind "Dark Knight."

Elsewhere, the Wednesday-opening bug seems to have spread to the indie community. Freestyle Releasing bowed its California vineyards drama "Bottle Shock" midweek in 48 theaters. (partialdiff)