'Pirates' rules b.o. seas but 'Knocked Up' not out

Comedy makes impressive bow with $30.7 mil

While Buena Vista's pirates predictably rode atop the boxoffice's high seas during the second weekend of "Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End," there was also room for Universal Pictures' R-rated comedy "Knocked Up" to establish itself as an upstart hit.

After a smash opening over the Memorial Day weekend, "At World's End" registered a 68% decline from the previous four-day holiday weekend — a familiar fall-off for a mega-movie that saw its business front-loaded over its opening frame. Grossing $44.2 million, the Gore Verbinksi-directed "At World's End" has grossed $217.5 million domestically during its first 10 days. To date, it's running ahead of the first film in the franchise, 2003's "The Curse of the Black Pearl," which collected $109.4 million in its first 10 days and $133 million by the end of its second weekend. But it's running behind last year's "Dead Man's Chest," which boasted $258.4 million by the end of its first 10 days — "Dead Man's Chest," however, had the advantage of enjoying bigger weekday numbers because it opened in July, when school was out for summer.

Sensing an opportunity after a May packed with three powerhouse sequels that also included Sony Pictures' "Spider-Man 3" and Paramount/DreamWorks' "Shrek the Third," Universal sent out an original comedy in "Knocked Up" and found a receptive, and largely female audience, for director Judd Apatow's heartfelt jokefest about a one-night stand between Katherine Heigl and Seth Rogan that results in an unintended pregnancy.

"Knocked Up," which opened in second place to a resounding $30.7 million, bettered the opening of Apatow's "The 40-Year-Old Virgin" in the summer of 2005, which opened to $21.4 million and went on to gross $109.4 million domestically. Playing in 2,871 theaters — about 1,500 fewer than "At World's End" was lodged in — "Knocked Up" attracted an audience that was 61% female, according to CinemaScore's audience sampling. Overall, moviegoers rewarded the film with a B+ rating.

MGM's murder-minded "Mr. Brooks," starring Kevin Costner — the only other film to open in more than 2,000 theaters (2,453 to be exact) — checked in in fourth place with a $10 million bow. The CinemaScore sample greeted it with a grade of B-.

While Picturehouse attempted to establish the femme-centric soccer tale "Gracie" by opening it in 1,164 theaters, the film, based on the real-life experiences of actress Elisabeth Shue, who served as one of its producers and who also appears in the picture, had to settle for a seventh-place bow, taking in just $1.4 million.

Fox Searchlight's "Waitress," written and directed by the late Adrienne Shelly, proved a more popular specialty film offering. Adding 95 theaters to bring its theater count to 605, it picked up $2 million in its fifth weekend to bring its domestic cume to $9.4 million as it settled into the sixth-place slot.

Rounding out the top five were "Shrek the Third" and "Spider-Man 3." "Shrek" ranked No. 3, picking up an additional $28 million as its cume rose to $255.9 million, while "Spider-Man 3," in fifth place, attracted another $7.6 million as its cume fattened to $318.3 million.

For all the activity at the boxoffice, however, the weekend failed to match that of the comparable frame in 2006, when Universal's comedy "The Break-Up" opened to $39.2 million, taking the top slot ahead of "X-Men: The Last Stand," last year's Memorial Day weekend opener, which collected $34 million in its second weekend.

The 118 films tracked by The Hollywood Reporter grossed a collective $135.1 million, down marginally from the $135.8 million collected during the first weekend of June 2006.