Uni's 'Ultimatum' accepted: No. 1 open

Damon starrer tops previous entries in series

Matt Damon's Jason Bourne may be a hyperactive, 21st-century version of the spy who came in from the cold, but North American moviegoers gave his third screen outing, "The Bourne Ultimatum," a very warm welcome this weekend. The Universal Pictures action thriller burst out of the gate, grabbing $69.3 million in the 3,660 theaters in which it played.

With a potent per-theater average of $18,930, the PG-13 film directed by Paul Greengrass built on the momentum of the first two movies based on the Robert Ludlum novels. 2002's "The Bourne Indentity" bowed to $27.1 million, and 2004's "The Bourne Supremacy," also helmed by Greengrass, launched to $52.5 million. The new film not only outdistanced both its predecessors, but also set a benchmark for August openings, surpassing the $67.4 million bow of "Rush Hour 2" in 2001.

Adult moviegoers don't always pack the multiplex on a film's opening weekend, but they couldn't resist Damon in one more go-round as Bourne. According to Cinemascore's sample of the opening weekend audience, 82% were 25 and older, while 56% were male. The movie earned an A rating or better from every segment of its audience.

With 20th Century Fox's "The Simpsons Movie" in second, grossing an additional $25.1 million despite a 66% decline, and Buena Vista's "Underdog" debuting in third place with $11.6 million, the frame enjoyed a significant boxoffice uptick from the comparable weekend last year, when Sony Pictures' "Talledega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby" opened to $47 million.

The 103 films tracked by The Hollywood Reporter collected $177.3 million, up more than 25% from the $141.1 million grossed during the comparable frame last year.

While "Bourne" scored with adults, the PG-rated "Underdog," Frederik Du Chau's live-action remake of the '60s cartoon about a canine superhero, entertained the family audience. According to Cinemascore, 49% of its audience was under 18 years of age and 55% was under 25. Females outnumbered males 57% to 43% as the film earned an overall grade of A-minus.

The weekend's other two wide releases didn't cause much of a ripple at the boxoffice. Paramount Pictures' PG-13 comedy "Hot Rod," starring "Saturday Night Live's" Andy Samberg, coasted to just $5.3 million in 2,607 theaters for a ninth-place showing. Skewing toward younger males, it earned an overall Cinemascore grade of B-minus.

Lionsgate's "Bratz: The Movie," the high school-set film based on the popular MGA doll line, pulled in younger females --just not a lot of them. Playing in 1,509 theaters, it grossed $4.2 million, though its target audience did award it a grade of B-plus.

Among the holdovers, Paramount/DreamWorks' "Transformers" is closing in on the $300 million mark. In eighth place for the weekend, it grossed $6 million, bringing its domestic tally to $296.4 million.

As for third-weekend holdovers, Universal's "I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry" captured $10.6 million, bringing its purse to $91.8 million, while New Line's "Hairspray" attracted $9.3 million, bringing its account to $78.9 million.

On the specialty film front, Picturehouse rolled out "El Cantante," a biopic starring Marc Anthony as salsa singer Hector Lavoe, in 542 theaters, where it grossed $3.2 million for a per-theater average of $5,908.

Miramax Films' introduced its period romance "Becoming Jane," starring Anne Hathaway as a young Jane Austen, in 100 theaters, where it grossed $972,066 for a per-screen average of $9,721.

ThinkFilm raised the curtain on David Wain's sketch comedy "The Ten," a comic riff on the Ten Commandments that originally premiered at this year's Sundance Film Festival. The R-rated film grossed $121,374 in 25 theaters for a per-screen average of $4,855.