'Ocean's' makes waves atop weekend's boxoffice

'Pirates 3' holds other new releases at bay

The competition got a little stiffer this past weekend as three new wide releases entered the fray, forcing their way into a marketplace that has been dominated by the big sequels of May — "Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End," "Shrek the Third" and "Spider-Man 3."

Warner Bros. Pictures' "Ocean's Thirteen," which Warners produced with Village Roadshow, managed to beat the house, walking away with $36.1 million from 3,565 theaters. But the PG-13-rated, Vegas-set caper, which reunites director Steven Soderbergh, George Clooney and the gang from the first two "Ocean's" movies, didn't prove quite as potent as its two predecessors: 2001's "Ocean's Eleven," which opened to $38.1 million, and 2004's "Ocean's Twelve," which bowed to $39.2 million.

With 71% of the audience sampled by CinemaScore over age 25, the latest "Ocean's" outing attracted a somewhat older audience and earned an overall grade of B+. But Warners is betting that the film can establish itself against the younger-skewing fare it will be competing against in upcoming weekends.

Sony Pictures' release of the PG-rated "Surf's Up," the second animated penguin movie to court moviegoers within the course of a year, didn't catch a big initial wave — its opening weekend bow of $17.6 million put it in fourth place. But it did find favor with its family audience — 61% of attendees were under 25 — who greeted it with an A-, according to CinemaScore.

Lionsgate's "Hostel: Part II," the weekend's third new wide release, met much more resistance. While the original "Hostel," released in January 2006, opened to $19.6 million, its hard R-rated sequel, directed by Eli Roth, who also helmed the first feature, proved anemic despite all the blood that flowed on-screen. The new gorefest opened to just $8.2 million from 2,350 theaters, which relegated it to sixth place. Those moviegoers who did brave the film's horrors could only muster a C rating.

Overall, the weekend business was down from last year's pace for the second weekend in a row. The 112 films tracked by The Hollywood Reporter collected $135.7 million, down nearly 12% from the $153.9 million tallied during the comparable weekend last year when Disney/Pixar's "Cars" opened to $60.1 million.

Among the holdovers, Buena Vista's "Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End" settled into second place after two weekends at the top of the pack. However, the film's dropoff did stabilize some during its third weekend as it fell by 52%. Taking in an additional $21.1 million, the adventure franchise saw its domestic purse rise to $253.4 million.

In fourth place, Universal Pictures' pregnancy comedy "Knocked Up" could boast the best hold of the wide releases in the top 10. Falling just 36% in its second weekend, it picked up $19.6 million to bring its tally to $65.9 million.

Facing off against "Surf's Up," the animated "Shrek the Third," from Paramount Pictures and DreamWorks Animation, ranked fifth. With a weekend take of $15.3 million, the film's domestic cume now stands at $281.5 million.

In seventh position, MGM's serial killer thriller "Mr. Brooks," starring Kevin Costner, fell by 51% in its second weekend. Registering $4.9 million, it saw its domestic total edge up to $18.6 million.

Picturehouse launched a potential awards contender on the specialty film front. "La Vie en Rose," director Olivier Dahan's biopic of Edith Piaf, starring Marion Cotillard as the French singer, took in $179,848 in eight theaters for a per-screen average of $22,481.

Fox Searchlight's "Waitress" also is proving itself as an alternative to the blockbuster titles so much in evidence. The comedy romance added 102 theaters to bring its theater count to 707. Its weekend gross amounted to $1.6 million, which brings its tab to nearly $12 million.