Moviegoers into 'Into You'

Ensemble comedy bows with $27.5 mil

Even more moviegoers than expected were into Warner Bros.' "He's Just Not That Into You" this weekend as the ensemble comedy topped domestic rankings with a $27.5 million opening that underscored fervor for escapist films.

Similarly, Fox's action-laden thriller "Taken" fell a measly 18% over its sophomore session to ring up $20.3 million in second place and push its 10-day cume to $53.4 million. Focus Features' 3-D animated feature "Coraline" also overachieved, corralling $16.3 million with a third-place debut.

Yet Sony's bow of Steve Martin starrer "Pink Panther 2" was a notable disappointment with just $12 million in fourth place, while Summit Entertainment opened sci-fi thriller "Push" at the high end of expectations with $10.2 million in sixth place. In another solid second-session hold, Sony's PG-13 horror film "The Uninvited" dropped just 38% to $6.4 million in ninth place for an $18.4 cume.

Industrywide, the $154 million weekend represented an impressive 37% improvement over the comparable session last year, according to Nielsen EDI data. Year to date, the boxoffice is off 5% at $1.01 billion, but that's due solely to seasonal quirks of the boxoffice calendar.

Elsewhere among holdover pics, Fox Searchlight's Indian drama "Slumdog Millionaire" maintained market traction with $7.4 million in seventh place for a $77.4 million cume. And though the Weinstein Co.'s Kate Winslet starrer "The Reader" shed 140 playdates, its still-wide 862 engagements registered $2.3 million to lift its cume to $16.1 million.

In a limited bow, Weinstein genre label Third Rail Releasing unspooled the "Star Wars"-themed caper film "Fanboys" in 44 theaters and rung up $164,000, or an acceptable $3,736 per venue.

Among notable expansions, Sony Pictures Classics' French-language drama "The Class" -- a nominee in Oscar's best foreign-language category -- added 21 locations for a total 27 and grossed $192,367. That gave "Class" a classy $7,125 per site as cume reached $587,623.

The big bow for "Into You" follows an overachieving theatrical run for last month's two-time boxoffice champ "Paul Blart: Mall Cop." The Sony comedy finished fifth this weekend with $11 million to pump four-week cume to $97 million.

"Mall Cop" got no favors from reviewers and stars previously unheralded Kevin James, so industryites have attributed its success in large part to recession-wracked consumers' seeking out frothy fare. It's been a particularly welcome trend, as some had feared boxoffice might suffer from consumers' fiscal woes despite the industry's historic resistance to economic vagaries.

Based on a best seller popular with 20-something women, "Into You" features an ensemble cast including Jennifer Aniston and Scarlett Johansson. Opening audiences were 80% female, with 60% of patrons under age 25.

"Bottom line, it played great," Warners distribution president Dan Fellman said. "And it's positioned well, as next weekend is not only a four-day weekend (including Presidents Day) but has Valentine's Day falling on Saturday."

"Into You" was produced through Warners-affiliated New Line Cinema.

Helmed by stop-motion animation auteur Henry Selick ("James and the Giant Peach"), PG-rated "Coraline" drew family patrons and moviegoing "sophisticates," Focus distribution president Jack Foley said. "The reviews were glowing."

But he added some regret that the installed base of 3-D venues was insufficient to allow the film to play entirely in 3-D auditoriums. "Coraline" was in 1,005 3-D venues and 1,294 conventional auditoriums, with 70% of its gross coming from the extra-dimensional locations.

"It's a tragedy that there aren't more 3-D screens out there," the Focus exec said.

Co-produced by MGM, "Panther 2" follows 2006's "The Pink Panther," which bowed with $20.2 million en route to registering $82.2 million overall domestically. "Panther 2" skewed 56% female, with 55% of patrons under age 25.

"It was at the lower end of our expectations," Sony distribution topper Rory Bruer said of the bow.

Starring Dakota Fanning and Chris Evans ("Fantastic Four"), "Push" audiences skewed 63% male, with 59% of patrons age 25 and older.

"It was slightly above our expectations and is going to get us to a respectful number," Summit distribution boss Richie Fay said. "Ultimately, we're going to be OK."

Icon Prods. was a co-financier on "Push," whose production costs totaled an estimated $38 million.

Looking ahead to double-holiday weekend, three wide releases are set to unspool Friday: Sony's political thriller "The International," Warners' horror pic "Friday the 13th" and Disney's youthful comedy "Confessions of a Shopaholic."