Adam Sandler
scored the ninth number one opening of his career with his latest comedy
I
Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry
which edged out former champ

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
for the top spot at the North
American box office. The frame’s only other wide opener
Hairspray
enjoyed a
magical debut of its own with a strong third place bow. Overall, moviegoers
spread their dollars around as for first time in more than three years, four
films grossed over $20M each over the same weekend.

Universal won a slim box office victory with the launch of

Chuck and Larry
which grossed an estimated $34.8M to lead the frame.
Debuting in 3,495 theaters, the PG-13 pic about two straight firefighters who
pretend to be gay for the domestic partner benefits averaged an impressive
$9,950 per location. Though a solid first place performance, Chuck and Larry
also delivered the worst opening for one of
Sandler’s broad
live-action comedies since the 2000 flop
Little Nicky
.
His more dramatic turns in films like
Spanglish
and
Reign Over Me

have attracted modest openings, but his mainstream laughers typically debut near
the $40M mark. Sandler still stands a good chance of earning a $100M blockbuster
for the sixth consecutive year.

Falling down one spot to the runnerup position was

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
which grossed an estimated
$32.2M in its sophomore session. Down a steep 58%, the Warner Bros. release
lifted its 12-day cume to a stunning $207.5M. Second weekend declines are
typically large for high-profile tentpole films. Phoenix’s drop was a bit
smaller than the 62% for both
Spider-Man 3
and
Pirates
of the Caribbean: At World’s End
which each debuted on a Friday in May.
However, it was larger than the drops for fellow midweek openers
Live Free or
Die Hard
and
Transformers

which witnessed sophomore declines of 47% and 48%, respectively.





The new Potter film had to compete with the arrival of the seventh and
final wizard book on Saturday which appealed to the exact same audience and
probably kept many away from the multiplexes. Still the gross to date compares
favorably to the $201M that the last film

Goblet of Fire
generated by the end of its second weekend in November
2005. That tally however was over two fewer days but did have the benefit of the
Thanksgiving holiday. With the summer playing period, Phoenix stands a
good chance of matching the $290M of Goblet and could even crack the
$300M mark. Together with Transformers, that would give this summer a
record five megablockbusters crossing the $300M threshold.





Helped by monster openings in Japan and Russia, the fifth wizard tale grossed a
staggering $100.8M overseas this weekend to boost the international tally to
$351.3M. That puts the global box office for Order of the Phoenix at a
towering $559M after only 12 days. This weekend the Harry Potter movie
franchise also crossed a major milestone as the global box office for all five
films combined shattered the $4 billion mark.





New Line attracted a large audience to its musical comedy
Hairspray
which
opened better than expected at number three with an estimated $27.8M. Playing in
3,121 houses, the PG-rated film averaged a stellar $8,907 and gave the studio
its best opening in two years. Hairspray earned rave reviews from critics
and starred a diverse cast that allowed the marketing team to target different
audiences. Hollywood veterans
John Travolta and
Michelle Pfeiffer
helped bring in adult moviegoers,
Amanda Bynes and
Zac Efron caught the
attention of teens,
Queen Latifah
helped give the film appeal to African American moviegoers,
and newcomer
Nikki Blonsky
hit the talk show circuit making everyday Americans feel they
too can win their shot at movie stardom. Many audience segments found something
here to like.

Transformers banked another $20.5M, according to estimates, and saw its
total soar to $263M. Off 45% in its third weekend, the Paramount/DreamWorks
production climbed to number 34 on the list of all-time domestic blockbusters
passing the $262M of 2002’s Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets.

The animated rodent film
Ratatouille

dropped 39% to fifth place with an estimated $11M in its fourth outing to boost
the cume to $165.6M. Although the acclaimed comedy is on its way past the $200M
mark, it will end up being Pixar’s lowest-grossing film since 1998’s
A Bug’s Life
. Fox’s
action sequel
Live Free or
Die Hard
followed in sixth with an estimated $7.3M, off 35%, lifting the
total to $116.5M. By Tuesday the new installment will become the top-grossing
Die Hard
film edging past the $117.3M of 1990’s Die Hard 2, however
ticket prices were much lower when all previous John McClane pics were released.

The Warner Bros. comedy
License to
Wed
fell 49% to an estimated $3.8M and gave the
Robin Williams
film $38.7M to date. The hit thriller
1408
scared up an
estimated $2.6M, down 47%, giving MGM a cume of $67.5M.





Universal rounded out the top ten with a pair of comedies from the men behind
The 40-Year-Old
Virgin
. Steve
Carell’s
Evan
Almighty
grossed an estimated $2.5M, down 50%, for a $93.5M sum. But
director Judd Apatow has been the bigger winner with
Knocked Up
which
slipped 37% to an estimated $2.3M raising the stellar total to $142.7M and
counting. Final domestic grosses should be roughly $100M and $150M,
respectively.




In limited release, Fox Searchlight’s sci-fi thriller
Sunshine
opened well
with an estimated $235,000 from only ten locations for a scorching $23,548
average. The Danny Boyle-directed
pic expands on Friday to over 400 theaters nationwide. Also posting a solid
average was Don Cheadle’s
Talk to Me with an
estimated $342,000 from 36 sites for a commendable $9,491 average. The total
sits at $895,000 with an expansion set for Friday as well.




A pair of films fell from the top ten over the weekend.
Michael Moore’s
health care documentary
Sicko
dipped 26% to an estimated $1.9M pushing the overall cume to
$19.2M. A final take of about $25M seems likely for the Lionsgate release. The
caper sequel
Ocean’s Thirteen
grossed an estimated $1.1M in its seventh heist, down
47%, for a $114.6M cume to date. A final North American tally of approximately
$118M seems likely which would be just 6% less than the $125.5M of 2004’s
Ocean’s Twelve.




The top ten films grossed an estimated $144.7M which was up 5% from last year
when

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest
remained at number one for
the third time with $35.2M; and up 17% from 2005 when Johnny Depp also ruled
with

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
which took in $28.3M in its sophomore
session.

Author: Gitesh Pandya, www.BoxOfficeGuru.com

Hogwarts fans flexed their muscles at the North
American box office showing up in droves once again for the extended opening
weekend of "Harry
Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
" which seized control of the multiplexes
with its top spot debut. Most holdovers fared well too as no film in the top ten
suffered a decline of more than 50%.

Flying in and winning the box office crown, the fifth "Harry
Potter
" film grossed an estimated $77.4M over the Friday-to-Sunday weekend
period and an eye-popping $140M since its Wednesday launch. That gave Warner
Bros. the second best Wednesday-to-Sunday opening in history trailing only the
$152.4M of "Spider-Man 2"
which debuted just ahead of the Independence Day holiday in 2004.

Comparing "Phoenix" to previous "Potter" films or even to this summer’s biggest
opening weekends would be pointless since those blockbusters all debuted on a
Friday. The latest wizard film did set a new Wednesday opening day record with
$44.2M which ranked as the fifth best opening day overall. The budget was
reportedly in the neighborhood of $200M.

Overseas, Warner Bros made a deep impact as well collecting a staggering $190.3M
over five days from 44 territories from over 12,000 prints. In North America,
the PG-13 film launched in 4,285 theaters with over 9,000 total prints. That
gave "Phoenix" a jaw-dropping global opening of $330M in just five days. The
film also set Imax records around the world.
 


Directed by David Yates,
"The Order of the Phoenix" took the longest book in the wildly popular series
and transformed it into the shortest of the five films thus far. Reviews were
mixed but overall most were positive. Extra excitement was generated by the hype
surrounding the debut of the seventh and final book which hits stores by no
coincidence just a week after the film’s opening weekend.
 

"Phoenix" hopes to eventually generate the $882M that the past Potter films have
averaged in worldwide box office. The stunning amount is equal to the current
average of the three "Pirates of the Caribbean" pics and is higher than the
$830M for each of the three "Spider-Man" films and the $808M average gross for
the recent "Star Wars" trilogy. However, "Potter" still has a long way to go in
order to come close to boosting its global box office average to the astounding
$970M for "The Lord of the Rings" trio.

 

"Phoenix" averaged a powerful $18,065 over three days from its ultrawide
saturation release which included 91 Imax locations. The blockbuster averaged an
additional $14,974 from 4,181 playdates over its $62.6M Wednesday-Thursday
midweek bow. Though diluted down by the midweek launch, the new wizard film
still outdistanced its nearest competitor by more than a two-to-one ratio over
the weekend period.
 

Bumped to second place in its second weekend was the robot megahit "Transformers"
with an estimated $36M for Paramount and DreamWorks. The
Michael Bay-directed
actioner dropped only 49% which was encouraging for a summer tentpole given the
arrival of "Potter." The cume shot to an astounding $223M in only 13.5 days and
became the director’s all-time top grosser. Budgeted at $150M, the Autobots
could go on to gross about $300M domestically and over $700M worldwide making it
one of the summer’s top-performing hits.
 


Disney and Pixar followed with their computer-animated concoction "Ratatouille"
which slipped 38% to an estimated $18M in its third outing. The total reached
$143M and the $200M mark still seems within reach.
Bruce Willis
captured an estimated $10.9M with his action sequel "Live
Free or Die Hard
" which fell 39% and upped its cume to $102.9M. A domestic
final of roughly $130M seems likely.
 


The
Robin Williams comedy "License to Wed" enjoyed a remarkably good hold in its
second weekend grossing an estimated $7.4M. Off only 29%, the Warner Bros. title
has taken in $30.5M in 13 days and could make its way to $50-55M.
 


MGM’s long-lasting horror flick "1408" dipped only 29% in its fourth frame to an
estimated $5M raising the cume to a solid $62.2M. The
John Cusack starrer now
looks on track to surpass "Disturbia" to become the top-grossing fright flick of
2007. Struggling to make its way into the century club,
Steve Carell’s "Evan
Almighty
" grossed an estimated $5M as well, down 43%, putting its total at
$87.9M.
 

Universal stablemate "Knocked Up" followed with an estimated $3.7M, down only 30%,
for a sum of $138.2M. The
Michael Moore documentary
"Sicko" dropped 26% to an
estimated $2.7M giving Lionsgate $15.9M to date. Rounding out the top ten was
"Ocean’s Thirteen" with an estimated $1.9M, down 46%, putting the Warner Bros.
sequel at $112.4M.
 

Don Cheadle’s new indie film
"Talk To Me" opened to solid results in limited
release grossing an estimated $391,000 from only 33 theaters for a potent
$11,848 average. The Focus release about controversial radio host Petey Greene
earned strong reviews and played to both arthouse and African American
audiences. Talk will expand further on July 27.
 

After Dark Films couldn’t find paying customers for its new horror title
"Captivity" which bowed to just $1.6M, according to estimates. The R-rated gorefest starring
Elisha Cuthbert averaged a puny $1,476 from 1,050 venues and
should arrive on DVD within minutes.

Falling from the top ten over the weekend was the super hero sequel "Fantastic
Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer
" which collected an estimated $1.6M tumbling 63%
in its fifth mission. With $127.1M in the bank, the Fox release seems headed for
a final domestic total of roughly $130M which would be 16% lower than the
$154.7M of its 2005 predecessor. "Silver Surfer" has company in that department
since most high profile summer films this year are running behind the paces of
their last corresponding films. Percentages that this season’s sequels are
trailing their predecessors by include 6% for "Ocean’s Thirteen," 10% for
"Spider-Man 3," 25% for
"Shrek the Third," 25% for
"Pirates of the Caribbean: At
World’s End
," and 55% for "Evan Almighty." Even Pixar’s
"Ratatouille" is currently 9%
behind the pace of last summer’s "Cars."

A handful of limited releases expanded into more markets and were met with
varying results. MGM’s war drama "Rescue Dawn" widened from six to 38 sites and
grossed an estimated $357,000 for a strong $9,395 average. Cume is $586,000. Fox
Searchlight’s "Joshua" expanded from six to 151 locations and took in an estimated
$210,000 for a mild $1,391 average. Total stands at $285,000. Warner Independent
grossed an estimated $91,000 for its comedy "Introducing the Dwights" after going
from four to 35 playdates. With an average of only $2,600, the total reached
$145,000.

The top ten films grossed an estimated $167.9M which was up 14% from last year
when "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest" remained at number one with
$62.3M; and up 10% from 2005 when "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory"
debuted on top with $56.2 million.

Author: Gitesh Pandaya, www.boxofficeguru.com

With the cinema section winding down and the musical segment ramping up, this year’s South By Southwest Festival is officially in full swing! Although the flicks will keep playing throughout the weekend, the awards were handed out last night. Here’s what the jury and the audiences enjoyed the most...

Jury Awards:

Documentary Feature
Special Jury Award – "Maxed Out," Dir. James D. Scurlock
Winner – "Jam," Dir: Mark Woollen

Narrative Feature
Special Jury Prize – Outstanding Ensemble Cast – "AMERICANese," Dir: Eric Byler
Special Jury Prize – Outstanding Visual Achievement – "Inner Circle Line," Dir: Eunhee Cho
Winner – "Live Free or Die," Dir: Andy Robin & Gregg Kavet

Audience Awards:

Emerging Visions
Runner Up – "Manhattan, Kansas," Dir: Tara Wray
Winner – "High Score," Dir: Jeremy Mack

Lone Star States
Runner Up- – "Slam Planet: War of the Words," Dir: Mike Henry & Kyle Fuller
Winner – "State vs. Reed," Dir: Ryan Polomski & Frank Bustoz

Documentary Feature Winner – "Darkon," Dir: Andrew Neel & Luke Meyer

Narrative Feature Winner – "AMERICANese," Dir: Eric Byler

–Keep your eyes peeled at RT Newsday for the scoop on these (and more) SXSW movies! And for even more on the SXSW goodness, feel free to visit the festival’s official site!

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