'Rookies' swings for weekend fences

Baseball film knocks 'Angels' from Japan's top slot

TOKYO -- The 1.2 billion yen ($13 million) opening weekend for "Rookies" -- the big-screen spinoff from last year's hit Tokyo Broadcasting System baseball drama -- suggests it might live up to its huge prerelease hype.

Almost a million moviegoers crowded 428 screens during the May 30-31 weekend, according to distributor Toho. Knocking Sony Pictures' "Angels and Demons" out of the No.1 spot, it raked in nearly 22% more than the opening of last year's "Hano Yori Dango -- Final" (Boys Over Flowers". Also a manga-to-TBS-to-theatrical production, it went on to gross $82 million, the highest take for a live-action feature in 2008.

Toho said its target is for "Rookies" to join the handful of non-anime Japanese films that have grossed more than $105 million.

"Star Trek" opened in fourth place over the weekend and Paramount has been hitting the promotion hard, with director, cast and local "talento," to create a buzz around the movie. The "Star Trek" series has a limited fan base in Japan and 2002's "Nemesis" took just over half a million dollars.

TBS has been putting its full weight behind "Rookies," with the high school baseball team cast appearing at professional games broadcast by the network, which owns the Yokohama Bay Stars team.
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