'Ocean's Thirteen' tops lackluster weekend


The "Ocean's Thirteen" gang engineered a boxoffice heist, capturing the top spot in the weekend listings. But a bit of a summer chill settled over North America's megaplexes as the latest installment of the caper franchise came up just short of its two predecessors, while the weekend's other new debuts -- the animated "Surf's Up" and the gorefest "Hostel: Part II" -- arrived below expectations.

Warner Bros. Pictures launched "Thirteen" -- which it financed with Village Roadshow -- in 3,565 theaters, where it delivered an estimated $37.1 million. But while the PG-13, Las Vegas-set tale reunited all the principals from the last two "Ocean's" movies -- producer Jerry Weintraub, director Steven Soderbergh, and George Clooney and his gang of modern-day rat packers -- it didn't quite equal the initial take of the two previous titles. "Ocean's Eleven," a remake of the 1960 Frank Sinatra film, bowed in December 2001 to $38.1 in 3,075 theaters, while "Ocean's Twelve" followed three years later, also in December, with a $39.2 million opening in 3,290 theaters. ("Eleven" went on to gross $183.4 million domestically; "Twelve" captured $125.5 million.)

This time out, the "Ocean's" gang placed its marker on a summer opening rather than winter, so Warners domestic distribution president Dan Fellman is predicting that strong midweek business should see the new film outdistance the first-week gross of "Eleven," which amounted to $50.2 million, as well as "Twelve," which rang in at $50.4 million. "It's the first film of the series released in June, so we're well positioned to take advantage of strong midweek business," he said.

The film, which bowed to $13 million on Friday, $13.9 million Saturday and an estimated $10.2 million Sunday, skewed slightly older; of the audience, 63% was over 25. It skewed slightly female as well, 52%-48%.

"I think we were very bold to go out in the summer, but it worked," Weintraub said. "Now that we've got it into the market, because our audience is not kids who run out to the theater on Friday night, we are close enough to 'Eleven' and 'Twelve' that at the end of the day, I think we're going to outdo both of them. We'll have enough play time now that I think this will be our biggest week."

With this weekend's openers including Weintraub's "Nancy Drew," appealing to girls and their moms, and 20th Century Fox's "Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer," making a bid for the younger male demo, Weintraub predicted, "If an adult wants to go to a movie, we're that other movie."

Sony Pictures' "Surf's Up," from Sony Animation, also will be looking to midweek grosses to boost its purse. The flick about surfing penguins, with a voice cast headed by newly minted star Shia LaBeouf ("Disturbia," the weekend's 10th-ranked movie), made its entry into the marketplace in fourth place with an estimated $18 million. That is well below the debut of last year's animated penguins movie, Warners' "Happy Feet," which bowed to $41.5 million, as well as Sony Animation's first effort, last year's "Open Season," which debuted to $23.6 million.

The PG-rated movie, directed by Ash Brannon and Chris Buck, attracted a family audience -- 72% of attendees belonged to families, according to Sony -- and domestic distribution president Rory Bruer characterized the opening as respectable.

"Hopefully, because the movie played so well -- it's gotten terrific reviews, an A-minus from CinemaScore, and we've had extensive word-of-mouth screenings -- as more and more kids get out of school, we'll hang in strong," Bruer said.

Liongate's R-rated "Hostel: Part II," director Eli Roth's sequel about tortured coeds, attracted some outraged reviews but not the audience interest of the first film, which Roth also helmed. The follow-up took in an estimated $8.8 million at 2,350 theaters for a sixth-place showing overall compared with the $19.6 million bow by the original in its opening weekend in January 2006.

Overall for the weekend, the boxoffice for the top 10 films was down 8% from the comparable weekend last year, when Disney/Pixar's "Cars" left the starting gate with a $60.1 million opening frame, according to Nielsen EDI.

It was the second down weekend in a row; after a torrid May, the June boxoffice appears to be undergoing something of a correction. Although EDI reports that summer 2007 remains ahead of summer 2006 by 10% and 2005 by 9%, it has slipped behind the record summer of 2004 by 1%.

After two weekends in the top spot, Buena Vista Pictures' "Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End" moved to second place, though its drop-off stabilized. After falling 62% in its second weekend, its third-weekend drop was 52% as the threequel took in an estimated $21.3 million, bringing its domestic total to just more than $253 million.

Disney reported that that franchise movie has taken in $746.6 million worldwide, making it the fourth-best-performing Disney film in history on a worldwide basis.

Demonstrating the best hold of the wide releases in the top 10 was Universal Pictures' R-rated relationship comedy "Knocked Up," which delivered a third-place showing with an estimated $20 million. With an assist from strong midweek numbers, its cume is just more than $66 million.

In its fourth weekend, Paramount Pictures' release of DreamWorks Animation's "Shrek the Third" stood in fifth place overall with an estimated $15.8 million and a domestic cume of $281.9 million.

Sony's "Spider-Man 3," in its sixth weekend, ranked eighth as it scored an additional $4.4 million to bring its domestic cume to $325.7 million.

In its second weekend, MGM's thriller "Mr. Brooks" fell 50% as it collected an estimated $5 million, bringing its total to $18.7 million.

On the specialty film front, Picturehouse launched "La vie en rose," Olivier Dahan's biopic of Edith Piaf that has critics swooning over Marion Cotillard's lead performance. Playing in eight theaters in Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco and Toronto, the film attracted an estimated $171,786 for a strong per-screen average of $21,473.

"The averages were good, word-of-mouth is great, and the reviews all emphasized the film's awards potential," Picturehouse president Bob Berney said. The plan is to expand the film into 60-70 theaters by this weekend and to have it play in about 200 theaters by June 22.

Fox Searchlight's "Waitress" also is finding a receptive audience. The late Adrienne Shelly's romantic comedy, which is playing in 708 theaters, ranked ninth for the weekend with an estimated $1.7 million. Its cume is $12 million.

Searchlight's Irish musical "Once," which is playing in 95 theaters, also appears to be attracting a following. It pulled in an estimated $512,000 in its fourth weekend, bringing its tally to $1.8 million.

For the week ending Thursday, total boxoffice was $197.9 million, down more than 5% from the $209.2 million collected during the comparable week last year. For the year to date, the total boxoffice stands at $3.9 billion, up nearly 6% compared with last year's $3.68 billion. Admissions are running about 1% ahead.