Weekend Box Office (August 17 - 19, 2007)

by Gitesh Pandya

THIS WEEKEND Horny teenagers flocked to the multiplexes for stimulation as the raunchy new sex comedy Superbad powered its way to number one while the frame's other new releases, the sci-fi thriller The Invasion and the adventure tale The Last Legion, were met with yawns. The overall North American box office continued its red hot pace significantly beating out year-ago levels yet again on its way to possibly ending the summer season with a new record.

Sony captured the top spot for the first time since early May with Superbad which powered ahead of expectations to bow to $33.1M, according to final studio figures. The R-rated tale of three nerdy high school pals on a wild search to get booze to impress their lady friends averaged a potent $11,212 from 2,948 locations. The opening even beat out by a healthy margin the $30.7M debut of June's Knocked Up from director Judd Apatow and actor Seth Rogen. Apatow produced Superbad which co-starred and was co-written by Rogen. Critics were quite impressed with McLovin and friends and gave the film high marks.

The studio pushed the teen comedy for months with a well-executed marketing campaign which included a popular uncensored trailer and touring the main actors around the country for promotional events. Superbad delivered the second biggest opening for an R-rated film this year only trailing 300. The two are the only R pics to reach number one at all in 2007. With a production cost of only $18M, the comedy will easily become a healthy moneymaker for Sony. But the film's troubling Friday-to-Saturday drop of 15% could mean that fans rushed out upfront as if this were a sequel and that big dropoffs could be on the horizon. Still it was the second biggest opening ever in the traditionally slow second half of August behind just Freddy vs. Jason which debuted to $36.4M in 2003. Studio research showed that the audience was 52% male and 60% in the 18-34 bracket.

Rush Hour 3 fell 57% in its second weekend and slipped to the runnerup spot with $21.4M pushing the ten-day cume to $87.7M. The New Line action sequel should find its way to about $135-140M from North America. Like most of this summer's threequels, Rush Hour 3 will end its domestic run well behind the gross of its predecessor.

The one threequel to break that trend is The Bourne Ultimatum which followed in third place this weekend with $19.9M, off only 40%. Universal's latest action entry has taken in a stellar $164.7M in only 17 days and should surpass the $176.1M of 2004's The Bourne Supremacy by the end of the week to become the top-grossing film of the franchise. Grossing $6.8M in its fourth frame, down 39%, was The Simpsons Movie which has taken in $165.3M for Fox to date.

Starpower from Nicole Kidman and Daniel Craig meant nothing at the box office for their new sci-fi thriller The Invasion which bombed with an opening of just $6M. Playing wide in 2,776 theaters, the PG-13 remake of Invasion of the Body Snatchers averaged a measly $2,144 per site. The Warner Bros. release earned mostly negative reviews.

Paramount's fairy tale adventure Stardust fell 38% to $5.7M for a ten-day sum of just $19.5M. A $30-35M final seems likely. The musical smash Hairspray joined the century club over the weekend grossing $4.5M for New Line, down just 30%, for a total of $100.8M. Disney's Underdog dropped 39% to $3.8M to boost its tally to $31.9M.

Falling to ninth place was Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix which took in $3.7M, off just 33%, giving Warner Bros. $278.8M from North America. Overseas, the fifth wizard tale collected $15.6M from 62 territories boosting the international cume to $591.2M and the global gross to a stunning $870M. Rounding out the top ten was Adam Sandler and Kevin James in the Universal comedy I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry which made $3.6M, down 39%, for a total of $110.5M thus far.

Opening with weak results outside of the top ten was the historical epic The Last Legion starring Ben Kingsley, Colin Firth, and Aishwarya Rai which launched with $2.7M from 2,002 playdates for a dismal $1,372 average.

Debuting with respectable results in limited release was MGM's Death at a Funeral which bowed to $1.3M from 260 theaters for a $4,935 average. Warner Independent platformed Leonardo DiCaprio's documentary The 11th Hour in New York and Los Angeles and generated a strong start. The PG-rated pic looking at environmental problems grossed $60,853 from four sites for a muscular $15,213 average. Hour expands to the top ten markets on Friday.

Two films dropped out of the top ten over the weekend. The Warner Bros. pic No Reservations took in $2.4M, off 39%, giving the Catherine Zeta-Jones film $36.5M to date. A $40-43M final seems likely. Sony's Daddy Day Camp fell 43% in its second outing to $2M for a weak $8.9M after ten days. The Cuba Gooding Jr. sequel should stumble to a final take of just $12M which will be a far cry from the $104.3M of Eddie Murphy's Daddy Day Care in the summer of 2003.

The top ten films grossed $108.3M which was up 25% from last year when Snakes on a Plane opened in first place with $15.2M; and up 17% from 2005 when The 40-Year-Old Virgin debuted in the top spot with $21.4M.

Compared to projections, Superbad debuted ahead of my $25M forecast. The Invasion and The Last Legion both opened below my respective predictions of $13M and $6M.

For a NEW review of The Invasion visit The Chief Report.

Be sure to check back on Thursday for a complete summary, including projections, for next weekend when War, Mr. Bean's Holiday, The Nanny Diaries, September Dawn, and Resurrecting the Champ all squeeze into theaters everywhere.

Marketplace: Shop for videos, DVDs, music, books, and posters at discounted prices using search engines

# Title Aug 17 - 19 Aug 10 - 12 % Chg. Theaters Weeks AVG Cumulative Distributor
1 Superbad $ 33,052,411 2,948 1 $ 11,212 $ 33,052,411 Sony
2 Rush Hour 3 21,353,361 49,100,158 -56.5 3,778 2 5,652 87,676,529 New Line
3 The Bourne Ultimatum 19,874,370 32,879,125 -39.6 3,701 3 5,370 164,694,690 Universal
4 The Simpsons Movie 6,829,648 11,269,651 -39.4 3,162 4 2,160 165,271,443 Fox
5 The Invasion 5,951,409 2,776 1 2,144 5,951,409 Warner Bros.
6 Stardust 5,651,343 9,169,779 -38.4 2,565 2 2,203 19,493,894 Paramount
7 Hairspray 4,502,455 6,396,666 -29.6 2,389 5 1,885 100,805,456 New Line
8 Underdog 3,848,791 6,352,377 -39.4 2,551 3 1,509 31,927,488 Buena Vista
9 Harry Potter and the Order... 3,656,379 5,432,130 -32.7 1,955 6 1,870 278,762,117 Warner Bros.
10 I Now Pronounce You Chuck... 3,601,545 5,877,915 -38.7 2,258 5 1,595 110,484,335 Universal
11 Becoming Jane 2,935,129 2,902,117 1.1 1,186 3 2,475 9,083,790 Miramax
12 The Last Legion 2,746,312 2,002 1 1,372 2,746,312 Weinstein Co.
13 No Reservations 2,363,459 3,855,029 -38.7 1,604 4 1,473 36,518,274 Warner Bros.
14 Daddy Day Camp 1,950,823 3,402,678 -42.7 2,332 2 837 8,918,854 Sony
15 Transformers 1,948,099 3,236,060 -39.8 1,206 7 1,615 306,487,922 Paramount
16 Ratatouille 1,643,850 2,373,416 -30.7 1,403 8 1,172 196,620,846 Buena Vista
17 Death at a Funeral 1,282,973 260 1 4,935 1,282,973 MGM
18 El Cantante 640,627 1,401,148 -54.3 374 3 1,713 6,686,803 Picturehouse
19 Hot Rod 571,780 2,223,876 -74.3 811 3 705 13,106,020 Paramount
20 Bratz 439,599 1,420,336 -69.0 533 3 825 8,893,678 Lionsgate
Top 5 $ 87,061,199 $ 108,815,379 -20.0
Top 10 108,321,712 133,735,508 -19.0
Top 20 124,844,363 149,485,273 -16.5
Top 20 vs. 2006 124,844,363 102,058,366 22.3

Last Updated: August 20, 2007 at 9:45PM ET

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