Weekend Box Office (June 20 - 22, 2008)

by Gitesh Pandya

THIS WEEKEND Steve Carell took control of the North American box office with his action-comedy Get Smart which powered its way to an easy win at the multiplexes. Mike Myers saw his new comedy The Love Guru settle for a fourth place launch behind holdovers Kung Fu Panda and The Incredible Hulk which fought fiercely for the number two spot. Overall business cooled down after four scorching frames of stellar sales, but the marketplace was still comfortably ahead of year-ago levels.

A modern update on the classic 1960s spy series, Get Smart was what the public wanted as the Warner Bros. vehicle bowed to $38.7M, according to final studio figures, from an ultrawide 3,911 locations to lead the box office this weekend. Averaging a solid $9,891 per site, the PG-13 film starring Carell as bumbling agent Maxwell Smart overcame weak reviews to post the best opening ever for the comedian in the lead role of a live-action film. Earlier this year he co-anchored with Jim Carrey the Dr. Seuss toon Horton Hears a Who! which debuted to $45M. Smart packed in extra starpower with Anne Hathaway, Dwayne Johnson, and Alan Arkin. After stumbling last month with its other television remake Speed Racer, Warner Bros. hit the jackpot this time around with a film that blended comedy with action giving audiences the kind of entertainment worth leaving home for. It was also the studio's biggest opening of the year so far, not counting New Line's Sex and the City which it handled distribution for.

Dropping a notch to second was Universal's comic book reboot The Incredible Hulk which fell 60% to $22.1M for a ten-day tally of $97.1M. It was a better hold and gross compared to Ang Lee's Hulk from 2003 which suffered a stunning 70% freefall to $18.8M in its sophomore session for a ten-day cume of $100.6M. Incredible will probably find its way to about $140-145M domestically. The old Hulk finished with $132.2M five years ago which would translate to around $155M at today's ticket prices meaning the Edward Norton vehicle will end up selling about 8% fewer ticket stubs. But the new film is well-liked by fans so the franchise now has a promising future. Overseas, The Incredible Hulk grossed an estimated $23.4M from 50 territories boosting the international take to $63.3M and the global gross to $160M with several key markets yet to open.

Thanks to a solid hold, the animated comedy Kung Fu Panda bounced into third place with $21.9M dropping only 35%. The 17-day total is now $155.8M for Paramount and DreamWorks. The Jack Black martial arts tale is still performing much like Pixar's 2006 June toon Cars which raced to a nearly identical $156.7M after 17 days. That film enjoyed a slightly better third lap grossing $23.3M for a slim 31% decline. Kung Fu Panda is still on course to surpass the $225M mark making it difficult for Pixar and Disney's next offering Wall-E to steal the animation crown for the summer. That toon invades multiplexes this Friday.

Settling for a fourth place debut was the new Mike Myers comedy The Love Guru which grossed $13.9M from 3,012 locations for a mild $4,617 average. Paramount's PG-13 pic about a self-help expert hired to fix a star hockey player's love life came in below expectations and was the smallest bow for a Myers comedy since the $9.5M of 1997's Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery. Panned by critics, Guru opened to $5.4M on Friday, dropped a troubling 12% on Saturday to $4.7M, and dipped another 19% to $3.8M on Sunday.

M Night Shyamalan's latest creepfest The Happening collapsed in its second weekend tumbling 66% to $10.5M pushing the ten-day total to $50.7M. The Fox release was the director's third consecutive film to tumble by 60% or more in the second weekend. The Mark Wahlberg starrer looks to finds its way to about $70M making it the second lowest grosser for Shyamalan since he hit it big with 1999's The Sixth Sense. Only 2006's Lady in the Water did worse with $42.3M.

It was another good hold for Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull which dropped 42% in its fifth frame to $8.5M. The Paramount release upped its cume to $291M putting the much-anticipated return of Indy at number 31 on the list of all-time domestic blockbusters after the $291.7M of 2005's The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.

Comedy stars with stylish hair followed. Sony's You Don't Mess With the Zohan fell 55% to $7.5M giving the Adam Sandler pic $84.3M to date. Warner Bros. and New Line's Sex and the City held up better dipping only 33% to $6.5M boosting the domestic total to $132.5M. Add in the incredible $169.7M from overseas and the ladies of New York cruised past the $300M global mark this weekend with $350M well within reach.

Audiences still can't get enough of Iron Man which posted the smallest dip in the top ten for the third consecutive weekend. The Marvel super hero eased by 28% to $4M and raised its tally to a stunning $304.8M joining Juno as the only films this year to spend eight straight weeks in the top ten. The pregnancy comedy's total streak was ten frames including the final two weekends of 2007. Iron Man held steady at number 27 on the all-time list right behind the $305.4M of 2003's Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl.

Rounding out the top ten was the horror flick The Strangers with $2.1M, off 47%, for a $49.8M take for Universal.

Two films with very different production costs fell out of the top ten. Disney's The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian dropped 43% to $1.8M giving the fantasy sequel $135.5M to date. Budgeted at nearly $200M, the second installment in the C.S. Lewis series should finish up with about $140M which would be a sharp 52% decline from the $291.7M of its 2005 predecessor. The studio has two years to reignite interest in the franchise with the next film The Voyage of the Dawn Treader currently set to open on May 7, 2010, just one week after what is guaranteed to be a gargantuan debut for Iron Man 2.

Fox's $35M comedy What Happens in Vegas has been a big winner this summer and took in $791,628 this weekend falling 53%. The Cameron Diaz-Ashton Kutcher pic has banked $77.5M in winnings and should conclude with roughly $80M domestically. Overseas results have also been robust with Vegas collecting over $121M to date for a global tally just shy of $200M.

The top ten films grossed $135.8M which was up 11% from last year when Evan Almighty opened in the top spot with $31.2M; and up 9% from 2006 when Click debuted at number one with $40M.

Compared to projections, Get Smart opened on target with my $38M forecast while The Love Guru debuted well below my $23M prediction.

For NEW reviews of Get Smart and The Love Guru visit The Chief Report.

Be sure to check back on Thursday for a complete summary, including projections, for next weekend when Wall-E and Wanted both open.

Marketplace - Shop for DVDs, electronics, books, and posters at discounted prices:

# Title Jun 20 - 22 Jun 13 - 15 % Chg. Theaters Weeks AVG Cumulative Distributor
1 Get Smart $ 38,683,480 3,911 1 $ 9,891 $ 38,683,480 Warner Bros.
2 The Incredible Hulk 22,136,060 55,414,050 -60.1 3,508 2 6,310 97,055,430 Universal
3 Kung Fu Panda 21,934,716 33,612,594 -34.7 4,053 3 5,412 155,830,875 Paramount
4 The Love Guru 13,907,130 3,012 1 4,617 13,907,130 Paramount
5 The Happening 10,482,146 30,517,109 -65.7 2,986 2 3,510 50,749,495 Fox
6 Indiana Jones and the Kingdom... 8,540,313 14,741,834 -42.1 3,171 5 2,693 290,961,044 Paramount
7 You Don't Mess With the Zohan 7,453,215 16,370,344 -54.5 3,278 3 2,274 84,308,418 Sony
8 Sex and the City 6,532,394 9,788,353 -33.3 2,442 4 2,675 132,452,769 New Line
9 Iron Man 4,030,272 5,620,375 -28.3 1,912 8 2,108 304,816,141 Paramount
10 The Strangers 2,122,410 4,024,485 -47.3 1,578 4 1,345 49,759,735 Universal
11 The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian 1,790,715 3,165,013 -43.4 1,462 6 1,225 135,549,086 Buena Vista
12 What Happens in Vegas 791,628 1,667,587 -52.5 708 7 1,118 77,543,162 Fox
13 Mongol 778,963 112,212 594.2 94 3 8,287 1,149,760 Picturehouse
14 The Visitor 383,584 420,928 -8.9 224 11 1,712 7,192,751 Overture
15 Baby Mama 247,160 441,685 -44.0 296 9 835 59,290,980 Universal
16 Kit Kittredge: An American Girl ($20 tix) 220,297 5 1 44,059 220,297 Picturehouse
17 Forgetting Sarah Marshall 202,540 287,625 -29.6 247 10 820 62,483,490 Universal
18 Made of Honor 166,972 303,434 -45.0 223 8 749 45,744,707 Sony
19 Speed Racer 152,674 183,385 -16.7 151 7 1,011 42,737,927 Warner Bros.
20 Nim's Island 150,881 165,442 -8.8 250 12 604 46,970,329 Fox
Top 5 $ 107,143,532 $ 150,655,931 -28.9
Top 10 135,822,136 174,921,744 -22.4
Top 20 140,707,550 177,402,526 -20.7
Top 20 vs. 2007 140,707,550 129,151,143 8.9

Last Updated: June 23, 2008 at 10:40PM ET

Watch Gitesh Pandya's weekly box office preview on CNN International airing live each Friday at 9:50am ET.