Fox scored its first number one hit in five months with "Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer" which grossed an estimated $57.4M on its opening weekend, tripling its nearest competitor’s sales.

Carrying a milder PG rating into 3,959 theaters, the super hero sequel averaged a sturdy $14,499 and just barely edged out the $56.1M bow of the first "Fantastic Four" pic from July 2005. A sequel has now topped the box office for seven consecutive weekends.

Reviews were mixed, but were better than for its predecessor which was critically panned. The sequel brought back director Tim Story along with the four main cast members Ioan Gruffudd, Jessica Alba, Chris Evans, and Michael Chiklis. However, the iconic Marvel Comics character Silver Surfer was prominently added to the film, and even to its title, to help bring back comic fans who may have had a bad taste after the first "Fantastic" pic. Laurence Fishburne provided the voice for the computer-generated space traveler.

The latest summer sequel kicked off the weekend on Friday with $22M, dipped an understandable 11% to $19.6M on Saturday, and is projected to drop by another 19% on Sunday to $15.8M. Fox also reported that "Rise of the Silver Surfer" opened in 32 overseas markets with a combined $25.4M this weekend although most were minor territories. Russia, Italy, and the United Kingdom were among the only major international markets that launched this frame with more to come in the weeks ahead.

"Ocean’s Thirteen" enjoyed a good hold in its second weekend dropping only 47% to an estimated $19.1M in its sophomore frame. Warner Bros. has now made off with $69.8M in ten days. Threequels often drop by 55% or more and "Ocean’s Twelve" even fell by 54% in its second try. That caper sequel grossed $18.1M in its second weekend and bagged a similar $68.5M worth of loot in its first ten days. "Thirteen," which will not benefit from holidays like Christmas and New Year’s prolonging its run, could be on track to finish with $105-110M domestically which would still be the lowest in the "Ocean’s" series.

Universal’s sleeper hit "Knocked Up" continued to capitalize on strong word-of-mouth and held onto third place with an estimated $14.5M, off only 26%, for a $90.5M cume. The R-rated smash will join the century club next weekend making it the studio’s first $100M hit since its last June romantic comedy offering "The Break-Up."

Disney’s "Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End" followed dropping 43% to an estimated $12M in its fourth adventure. Cume stands at $273.8M which is up 31% from 2003’s "Curse of the Black Pearl" after its fourth weekend, but down 24% from last summer’s "Dead Man’s Chest" at the same point. "At World’s End" did manage to rise to number 32 on the all-time domestic blockbusters list sailing past the $267.7M of 2001’s "Shrek."

A trio of kidpics followed. The animated penguin movie "Surf’s Up" sank 47% in its second weekend to an estimated $9.3M giving Sony a not-so-cool $34.7M after ten days. A final gross of about $60M could result. "Shrek the Third" landed in sixth place with an estimated $9M, off 41%, for a $297.2M total. Knocking on the triple-century mark, the Paramount release now stands at number 24 on the all-time list just behind the first "Pirates" film which banked $305.4M four years ago.

Moviegoers passed on solving a mystery with "Nancy Drew" which opened poorly in seventh with only $7.1M, accoridng to estimates. Averaging a weak $2,732 from 2,612 theaters, the PG-rated film starring Emma Roberts failed to make a dent in the summer box office this weekend. "Nancy" opened in the same neighborhood as other films aimed at tween girls like "Ice Princess," "Little Black Book," and "Aquamarine" which all bowed to roughly $7M a piece.

Lionsgate saw its horror sequel "Hostel Part II" tumble 64% after its weak opening to an estimated $3M this weekend. With only $14.2M taken in thus far, the torture pic should finish with just under $20M, or less than half of the $47.3M of the first "Hostel" flick from last year. MGM’s "Mr. Brooks" grossed an estimated $2.8M, off 43%, pushing the cume to only $23.4M for the Kevin Costner thriller.

"Spider-Man 3" rounded out the top ten with an estimated $2.5M falling 42% from last weekend. With $330M after its seventh frame, the Sony sequel climbed to number 15 on the list of all-time domestic blockbusters right behind "Finding Nemo" which took in $339.7M in 2003.

Opening dead on arrival was the new actioner "D.O.A.: Dead or Alive" which bowed to an estimated $232,000 from 505 theaters for a pathetic $460 average. The Weinstein Co. title was released with little fanfare and should see most of its business on DVD.

A pair of hits fell from the top ten over the weekend. Fox Searchlight’s indie darling "Waitress" grossed an estimated $1.3M, down only 21%, for a $14.1M cume to date. A final tally of $17-20M from a limited national release is likely. Paramount’s Shia LaBeouf thriller "Disturbia" collected an estimated $250,000 in its tenth frame pushing the stellar cume to $78.3M. Look for a $79M final which will serve as an appetizer to the studio’s next Shia offering — "Transformers" opening July 3.

The top ten films grossed an estimated $136.8M which was down 2% from last year when "Cars" remained at number one with $33.7M; but up 8% from 2005 when "Batman Begins" debuted in the top spot with $48.7M over three days.

Author: Gitesh Pandya, www.BoxOfficeGuru.com

One super hero on a motorcycle looks to get replaced by four middle-aged bikers at the number one spot at the North American box office this weekend.

The new comedy "Wild Hogs" leads the pack of new releases with the widest release of the trio. Also debuting are the serial killer thriller "Zodiac" and the southern sizzler "Black Snake Moan" to kick of a March movie marathon.

Starpower is at the center of Buena Vista’s new highway to hell comedy "Wild Hogs." The PG-13 film brings together Tim Allen, John Travolta, Martin Lawrence, and William H. Macy as four suburban men who take to the road to put some adventure back into their lives. An adult audience is likely here and both genders should be represented fairly evenly. Star wattage and concept should sell the picture and trailers and commercials haven’t been half bad. The studio saw encouraging results from its sneak previews last Saturday which were at 85% capacity and skewed 51% male. "Wild Hogs" could reach the same audience that came out for Travolta’s "Be Cool" and "Ladder 49" which opened to $23.5M and $22.1M, respectively. Both Travolta and Allen have been out promoting the film aggressively so awareness is sizable. Opening in about 3,300 theaters, "Wild Hogs" may take in around $23M in ticket sales this weekend giving Allen a badly-needed hit.


Several actors attempt to kickstart their stalled careers in "Wild Hogs."

Jake Gyllenhaal, Robert Downey Jr., and Mark Ruffalo star in the new serial killer pic "Zodiac" from director David Fincher ("Seven," "Panic Room"). The R-rated film chronicles the investigation behind one of the most notorious and mysterious murderers of the twentieth century. Paramount has long had a solid track record at finding success from crime thrillers with its slick marketing. For this particular film, the studio is hoping that the public does not find out that it is in for a nearly three hour saga. The running time should cut into the box office potential of the film since theaters will have to offer one less showtime per day compared to most other movies. A more subdued theater count will play a role too.

Still some appealing names are being offered in front of and behind the camera. Older adults are more likely to show up as the subject matter is too ancient for those in their early 20s. Films about famous California murders were met with indifference last fall in the other 49 states when Ben Affleck‘s "Hollywoodland" and Josh Hartnett‘s "The Black Dahlia" opened nationally to just $5.9M and $10M, respectively. "Zodiac" is a little more modern and is being packaged in a better way so its debut should be stronger. But the film lacks a star that can really bring some bang to the box office right out of the gate. Critics have been very supportive which will help with the older target audience. Attacking 2,362 theaters, "Zodiac" might find itself with about $16M this weekend.


Contemplating horoscopes is emotionally draining in "Zodiac."

With the eye-catching image of an older black man chaining up a young scantily clad white woman, Paramount Vantage’s "Black Snake Moan" already has one of the year’s most memorable posters. The new R-rated entry from writer/director Craig Brewer is the follow-up to his 2005 hit "Hustle & Flow" which won an Oscar last year for best song. With some more cash and bigger stars, "Snake" features Samuel L. Jackson as a Bible-loving blues guitarist who finds and cares for a beaten, bruised, and half-naked woman with a disturbing past played by Christina Ricci. Justin Timberlake adds some starpower with his second film of the year following
January’s "Alpha Dog."

"Black Snake Moan" should appeal to much of the "Hustle" crowd. That film was a summer opener and bowed to $8M from just over 1,000 locations for a solid $7,915 average. Jackson is always a wild card at the box office as many of the films he anchors do not pull in the big numbers while his ensemble pics tend to thrive. Here, he is the main draw. Competition from other contenders should not be that much of a factor as the film will work if audiences find it cool. Reviews have been generally favorable so that could provide an assist at the turnstiles. Young adults not interested in Vincent Vega and Santa on choppers might go for a more bold moviegoing choice like this. Opening in 1,252 locations, "Black Snake Moan" may debut with about $8M.


Ricci and Jackson in "Black Snake Moan."

After leading the pack for two weeks, Sony’s "Ghost Rider" will get passed up by some of the new releases this weekend. A 50% drop to about $10M seems likely giving the Nicolas Cage film $93M in 17 days.

Disney should enjoy a better hold for its fantasy drama "Bridge to Terabithia" since its audience is a little too young for the newcomers. A 35% decline would leave the PG-rated film with roughly $9M for the frame and push the 17-day cume up to $58M. Jim Carrey on the other hand should tumble with his thriller "The Number 23" which will see some direct competition from "Zodiac." A 55% drop would leave New Line with $7M over the weekend and $25M after ten days.

LAST YEAR: Tyler Perry stayed at number one for the second straight weekend with the Lionsgate comedy "Madea’s Family Reunion" which grossed $12.6M despite a hefty sophomore drop. Opening close behind in the runnerup spot was the Bruce Willis actioner "16 Blocks" with $11.9M on its way to $36.9M for Warner Bros. Disney’s family adventure "Eight Below" held up well in its third ride grossing $10.1M for third place. Debuting with unimpressive results were Sony’s action flick "Ultraviolet" with $9.1M in fourth and Fox’s drama "Aquamarine" with $7.5M in fifth. Final grosses reached $18.5M and $18.6M, respectively. Opening with decent results was "Dave Chappelle’s Block Party" with $6.2M for Focus from 1,200 theaters on its way to $11.7M overall.

Source: Gitesh Pandya, www.BoxOfficeGuru.com

Are you between the ages of 13 and 19? Do you like … stuff? Then click right here and cast your votes for the 329th annual Teen Choice Awards, which is where you can tell the universe that Puffy is more illing than Snoop Dogg, Will Ferrell is funnier than Brad Pitt, and Katie Holmes is cuter than Katey Sagal. Or something.

Click right here for the ballot, but don’t even think of voting if you’re older than 19. The Teen Choice Awards employ a bunch of enforcers who’ll come to your house and check your birth certificate.

I had to lie about my age to check out the nominees (don’t tell anyone), but the TCAs are poised to celebrate some of the following flicks:

Best Action Adventure:
"King Kong," "Mission Impossible 3," "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest," "Superman Returns," "V for Vendetta," "X-Men: The Last Stand"

Best Drama: "Flightplan," "Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire," "Pride & Prejudice," "Take the Lead," "Goal!," "Walk the Line"

Best Chick Flick: "Failure to Launch," "Just Like Heaven," "Just My Luck," "Last Holiday," "Aquamarine," "The Lake House"

Best Comedy: "Click," "Nacho Libre," "Scary Movie 4," "She’s the Man," "The Benchwarmers," "The Break-Up"

Best Thriller: "An American Haunting," "Hostel," "Red Eye," "Saw 2," "Silent Hill," "The Omen"

They also have a bunch of actor’s categories, but the choices managed to somehow get even sillier. Click here to cast your votes, kids.

The power of Tyler Perry continued over Oscar weekend, with his "Madea’s Family Reunion" snagging the #1 spot for a second consecutive weekend. Despite a Tomatometer stuck on 30%, the flick just keeps packing ’em in: Madea made another $13 million last weekend, giving her a total purse of $48.1 million.

Debuting in the #2 spot was the Bruce Willis action thriller "16 Blocks," which tallied an estimated $11.7 million from 2,700 theaters. Disney’s "Eight Below" exhibited some strong staying power by hanging at #3 in its third weekend. The frozen dog flick made another $10.3 million last weekend, giving it a grand total of $58.8 million thus far.

A pair of kid-friendly newcomers rounded out the top five. Milla Jovovich‘s futuristic action flick "Ultraviolet" pulled in $9 million from 2,500 theaters, while the teen-girl mermaid comedy "Aquamarine" made about $7.5 million from its own 2,500. (I’d pay nine bucks to see a sequel called "Ultraviolet vs. Aquamarine.")

Next Friday sees the unleashing of three new wide releases: The rather painful-looking Disney remake "The Shaggy Dog," the slacker-boy/smart-girl rom-com "Failure to Launch," and Searchlight’s geek-anticipated revisit of Wes Craven‘s "The Hills Have Eyes."

For a closer look at the weekend numerals, please do stop by the Rotten Tomatoes Box Office Page.

This week’s wide releases will take us on a journey. We’ll walk a couple blocks ("16 Blocks," "Dave Chappelle’s Block Party"), take a dip in the ocean ("Aquamarine") and feel the rays of the sun ("Ultraviolet"). And the critics will be our guide.

With the first two "Lethal Weapon" films, Richard Donner perfected a certain kind of action-buddy template, and he gives it another try in "16 Blocks." Bruce Willis and Mos Def star in this tale of a cop who must transport a witness across town to testify in court, but must make it past a bunch of bad guys first. Critics say the film is a solid action picture with interesting characters, but it’s still a little too formulaic. It’s currently at 49 percent on the Tomatometer, well below Donner’s best-reviewed action film ("Superman," 94 percent) and Willis’ ("Die Hard," 92 percent).

We’ve missed you, Dave Chappelle. We were deeply concerned when you went on hiatus. We were afraid we’d lost the comedy voice of a generation. We needn’t have worried, say critics. "Dave Chappelle’s Block Party" is a raucous return to the spotlight, and Dave’s incisive, observational wit appears to be as sharp as ever. Directed with style by Michel Gondry and featuring exceptional musical performances by some of hip-hop’s heaviest hitters (including — will wonders never cease — the reunited Fugees), this is one swingin’ "Party." It currently stands at 93 percent on the Tomatometer, and if that number holds, "Block Party" will be the best reviewed wide release of the year. It’s also nearly 50 points higher than Chappelle’s career Tomatometer of 44 percent. Heck, even he makes fun of "Half Baked.")

"Aquamarine" tells a fish-out-of-water story — or, better yet, a mermaid-out-of-the-ocean story. A couple of teenage girls discover a mermaid who, like Ariel before her, is looking for love, preferably on dry land. As you can probably guess, the target audience for this movie is ichthyologists. Sorry, I meant teenage girls. Critics say that demographic will dig it to an acceptable degree, but their parents and the fellas will be feeling a bit seasick. At 50 percent on the Tomatometer, "Aquamarine" is a tad soggy.

Extensive exposure to ultraviolet rays can be very harmful, particularly to the eyes. So the people behind the futuristic action flick "Ultraviolet" did the critics a favor by not screening the film for them. Whether it’s harmful for audiences, we can’t say at this point. Just be warned.

Speaking of which, it’s time to announce the winners of last week’s Guess the Tomatometer contest. Mizzoucritic was one point off in his/her evaluation of "Tyler Perry’s Madea’s Family Reunion," which landed at 32 percent, and lovelykeira came the closest to "Doogal"’s score of six percent. So the next time we’re in Mizzou’s neck of the woods, we’ll get dinner at Shakespeare’s Pizza to celebrate. Go Tigers.

Recent Bruce Willis Movies:
—————————————-
33% — Hostage (2005)
78% — Sin City (2005)
5% — The Whole Ten Yards (2004)
36% — Tears of the Sun (2003)
39% — Rugrats Go Wild (2003)

Recent Dave Chappelle Movies:
———————————————
75% — Undercover Brother (2002)
7% — Screwed (2000)
31% — 200 Cigarettes (1999)
35% — Blue Streak (1999)
25% — Half Baked (1998)

Recent Richard Donner Movies:
——————————————–
12% — Timeline (2003)
57% — Lethal Weapon 4 (1998)
46% — Conspiracy Theory (1997)
14% — Assassins (1995)
66% — Maverick (1994)

Head on over to the Ghost House Pictures website and you’ll find a new press release that’ll thrill all you ravenous "Grudge" holders. Seems the sequel just started production in Japan, and that "The Grudge 2" will be ready for ticket-buyers this October, a month that promises a whole lot of goodies for the horror geeks.

"Principal photography has begun on "The Grudge 2," it was announced today by Columbia Pictures and Ghost House Pictures. The film is the much-anticipated sequel to the 2004 hit "The Grudge," which earned $188 million in worldwide box office receipts.

"The Grudge 2" delves into the secrets behind the grudge’s wrath and introduces a seemingly unrelated host of new characters who find themselves connected by the same terrifying supernatural curse.

The movie stars Amber Tamblyn ("Stephanie Daley," "Joan Of Arcadia") with Sarah Michelle Gellar returning in her role as ‘Karen.’ Arielle Kebbel (upcoming "Aquamarine") joins the growing ensemble cast with Jennifer Beals ("The L Word") and newcomer Teresa Palmer (upcoming "December Boys") co-starring.

Japanese actress Takako Fuji reprises her role as the terrorizing ‘Kayako,’ making it the fifth time that she has played this role—three times in the Japanese "Ju-On" as well as the first installment of the English version. Ryo Ishibashi also returns briefly in a cameo as ‘Detective Nakagawa.’

Other supporting cast includes Japanese teen pop star Misako Uno of the popular group AAA in her feature film debut, Shaun Sipos ("Complete Savages"), and the well-known Chinese actor Edison Chen, who is best known for his role in "Infernal Affairs," the 2002 hit Hong Kong film which is being remade by Martin Scorsese and set to be released as "The Departed."

Also returning are director Takashi Shimizu, writer Stephen Susco, and producers Sam Raimi, Rob Tapert and Taka Ichise.

Producer Sam Raimi offers, “For "The Grudge 2," Ghost House has reunited our original team led by master filmmaker Takashi Shimizu. It promises to deliver gripping sequences of suspense and shocking jolts that should have the fans of "The Grudge part 1" leaping out of their seats and coming back to the theater again and again.”

Other key filmmakers returning for the second installment include Production Designer Iwao Saito who ingenuously designed the house for the first movie; Visual Effects Supervisor Hajime Matsumoto who handled the three Japanese versions of "Ju-On" as well as the English-language version; and Editor Jeff Betancourt ("When A Stranger Calls," "The Exorcism Of Emily Rose"). In addition, Cinematographer Katsumi Yanagijima who has made a name for himself in collaborating with respected Japanese writer/director Takeshi Kitano, in the recent cult classics “Zaoitchi: The Blind Swordsman” and “Dolls,” joins this talented group in his first English-language movie.

With the story still set in Tokyo, the production is shooting on location in various places around the metropolitan area as well as the famous Toho Studios, the largest sound stages in Japan. Filming began on Monday, Feb. 13, and is scheduled to wrap at the end of April. Columbia Pictures will release the movie on October 20, 2006, in the United States."

Tyler Perry‘s follow-up to "Diary of a Mad Black Woman," "Madea’s Family Reunion" had no trouble leaping to the top of the box office in its first weekend, handily satisfying its target demographic (and without any help from the film critics, tyvm). The flick snagged an estimated (and rather impressive) $30.2 million from 2,200 theaters, while fending off a pair of underperforming newcomers and a handful of hangers-on.

Aside from the #1 spot, the top five was populated by older titles, with Disney’s "Eight Below" ($15.7m weekend, $45.1m total) coming in a distant second and spots 3 through 5 belonging to "The Pink Panther" ($11.3m weekend, $61m total), "Date Movie" ($9.2m weekend, $33.9m total), and "Curious George" ($7m weekend, $43.1m total), respectively.

A pair of new releases debuted rather inauspicously in Madea’s wake: Weinsteins’ "Doogal" managed $3.6 million from 2,300 theaters while the action thriller "Running Scared" scared up an anemic $3.1 million from 1,600 theaters.

Next weekend sees the release of three big titles: WB’s action flick "16 Blocks," Fox’s tweenie comedy "Aquamarine," and Screen Gems’ futuristic thriller "Ultraviolet." Also opening on about 800 screens is Rogue’s "Dave Chappelle’s Block Party."

For a closer look at the weekend numerals, make a stop at the Rotten Tomatoes Box Office Page.