'Watchmen' earns $24.9 mil in first day

Pic tracking under '300,' helmer Zack Snyder's last film

Moviegoers came out to watch "Watchmen" on Friday to the tune of an estimated $24.9 million, including the $4.6 million that the graphic novel adaptation about dystopian superheroes picked up at midnight screenings Thursday.

The film, co-produced by Warner Bros. and Legendary Pictures and playing in 3,611 locations, the widest release ever for an R-rated film, is currently pulling in somewhat less than director Zack Snyder's last film, "300," which grabbed $28.1 million on its first day of release in March 2007 and went on to a first-weekend gross of $70.9 million.

On Thursday night, "Watchmen" attracted more than double the audience that showed up for midnight showings of "300," which took in $2.5 million when it originally bowed at midnight screenings. But while "Watchmen" is now playing in about 500 more theaters than "300," it also is contending with a running time that is more than 45 minutes longer.

Whether "Watchmen" ultimately tops "300's" opening, which looks as if it could be a challenge, it will dominate the weekend as the only new wide opener.

Lionsgate's "Tyler Perry's Madea Goes to Jail," the No. 1 film for the past two weekends, moved to the second slot, where it took in an estimated $2.5 million Friday, bringing its domestic total to just over $70 million.

Disney's "Jonas Brothers: The 3D Concert Experience," which entered the ranks in second place last weekend, skidded down to ninth place. Its Friday take of $851,000 was down more than 80% from last Friday's opening number of $4.96 million.

The resilient "Taken," the thriller from 20th Century Fox, moved up a notch from its fourth-place showing last weekend to third place as it picked up an additional $2.3 million.

Fox Searchlight's Oscar-validated "Slumdog Millionaire" occupied the fourth position with nearly $2 million as it topped the $120 million mark. Hanging onto fifth place, Warners' ensemble romantic comedy "He's Just Not That Into You" took in $1.3 million for the day.