'Tropic' tops tepid b.o. frame


Moviegoers were again drawn to the surprisingly resonant allure of "Tropic Thunder" this weekend.

DreamWorks/Paramount's R-rated comedy repeated atop the domestic boxoffice amid weaker-than-expected competition, marking a modest 38% decline from its first session for an estimated $16.1 million on the frame and a 10-day cume of $65.7 million.

Sony's PG-13 comedy "The House Bunny" hopped into second place with a sprightly $15.1 million in opening grosses. But Universal's action thriller "Death Race" — which had been expected to speed to the top spot — found its boxoffice throttle stuck at just $12.3 million in a third-place bow.

Elsewhere, the grosses were similarly tepid over summer's penultimate boxoffice frame, though Warner Bros.' "The Dark Knight" reached a phenomenal cume of $489.2 million in a fourth-place showing of $10.3 million over its sixth session.

Warners' "Star Wars: The Clone Wars" landed in fifth place during its second frame, sliding 61% to $5.7 million on the session and a $25 million cume. Fox's horror film "Mirrors" finished in seventh place over its sophomore session, with a 56% drop from opening grosses producing $4.9 million on the frame and a $20.1 million cume.

The Ice Cube-starring family comedy "The Longshots" from MGM and Dimension debuted with $4.3 million in eighth place. Fox's PG-13 comedy "The Rocker," toplined by Rainn Wilson, failed to crack the top 10 with just $2.8 million this weekend and $3.8 million since a Wednesday bow.

More positively, Woody Allen's "Vicky Cristina Barcelona," from MGM and the Weinstein Co., saw a solid second session. "Barcelona" fell just 20% from opening grosses for $3 million on the frame and an $8.6 million cume.

Industrywide, the weekend's $107 million marked a 1% dip from the same frame last year, according to Nielsen EDI data.

Seasonal boxoffice is neck-and-neck with last summer headed into the home stretch at $3.86 billion.

Year to date, 2008 is off 1% from the same portion of last year, at $6.53 billion.

In a limited bow this weekend, Focus Features unspooled its well-reviewed comedy "Hamlet 2" in 103 theaters and grossed $435,294, or an acceptable $4,226 per venue. "Hamlet 2" expands wide to about 1,600 theaters on Wednesday.

Zeitgeist Films' New Orleans documentary "Trouble the Water" bowed in three locations and grossed $28,281, or a solid $9,427 per site.

Among other limited players, Summit's 3-D animated feature "Fly Me to the Moon" added 88 theaters for a total of 540 locations — all 3-D venues — and grossed $1.4 million, or $2,657 per site, with a $4.2 million cume.

Freestyle Releasing's wine drama "Bottle Shock" added 207 playdates for a total of 324 and grossed $719,928, or a thinning $2,222 per engagement, with a $1.7 million cume.

And IDP/Samuel Goldwyn expanded its drama "Elegy" by 86 locations for a total of 92 in grossing $502,136, or a sturdy $5,458 per engagement. Its cume hit $749,225.

"Tropic" became only the third film to repeat at No. 1 this summer, after "Iron Man" and "Dark Knight."

"Bunny," starring Anna Faris ("Scary Movie"), drew audiences comprised 68% of females, with 54% of patrons under 21.

"We're very happy with the results," Sony distribution president Rory Bruer said.

Rated R and starring Jason Statham, "Death Race" was a loose remake of the 1975 Roger Corman production, "Death Race 2000." Some 63% of its patrons were males, and 52% were aged 25 or older.

"There's no question that it was softer than it might have been, but the results were fine," Universal distribution president Nikki Rocco said.

Directed by rocker-turned-helmer Fred Durst, "Longshots" skewed family and urban.

"We didn't really pop in the bigger markets, which is a little disappointing," Weinstein Co. distribution chairman Steve Bunnell said. "But we have a family movie that we feel can still play over the Labor Day weekend."

"Rocker" played to audiences comprised 51% of moviegoers under 21, with males representing about 55% of patrons.

"It's a very modestly budgeted movie, but we're disappointed," Fox senior vp Chris Aronson said.

"Rocker" production costs were estimated at well under $20 million.

Looking ahead, the long holiday session will see five films entering the market in wide release, including "Hamlet 2."

Wide openers set for Friday include Fox's sci-fi thriller "Babylon A.D.," starring Vin Diesel; Lionsgate's comedy spoof, "Disaster Movie"; and MGM's comedy "College." Overture's thriller "Traitor" — toplined by Don Cheadle — will get a jump on the crowded session by unspooling Wednesday. (partialdiff)