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Sunday, June 1, 2008

'Sex and the City' tames 'Indy' to top box office with $55.7m, May 30-June 1, 2008

Women showed up in droves this weekend and helped carry Sarah Jessica Parker & Co. to the top of the charts, as New Line's big screen treatment Sex and the City took in a surprisingly powerful $55.7 million in its debut. Last week's champ Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull took a 54% fall to finish second.

Blowing past all industry expectations Sex and the City charged into cineplexes with a massive media blitz and phenomenal buzz, earning $55.7 million over the weekend and a jaw-dropping $26 million on Friday alone. Released at a time usually reserved for big-budget action adventures, New Line's summer gamble certainly paid off. Women made up the vast majority of the ticket buyers this weekend, particularly on Friday when over 85% of audience members were female. Starring the same core cast from HBO's hugely popular tv series of the same name, the $65 million budgeted picture averaged an incredible $16,968 in 3,285 theaters, becoming the year's third largest debut (behind only Indy IV $100.1m and Iron Man's $98.6m) and largest R-rated opening of 2008.

Despite mixed reaction from critics this was the female event pic of the year, ending Sex fans' four-year drought from the series' 2004 finale on HBO. It was the fifth biggest R-rated opening in history, behind only The Matrix Reloaded ($91.8m), The Passion of the Christ ($83.8m), 300 ($70.9m), and Hannibal ($58m). For soon to be defunct New Line Cinema -- which will be folding back into parent Warner Bros. -- the debut was the studio's biggest since 2003's The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King. But unless the film can find a way to break into the male demographic or gather repeat viewers, look for substantial drops in the weeks to come.

Falling 54% in its sophomore frame to second place was Lucasfilm/Paramount's Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, which took in $46 million over the weekend. In 11 days the $185 million budgeted Steven Spielberg film has grossed $216.9 million, putting the film on pace to reach $300 million domestically. Already Crystal Skull is the sixth highest grossing film of Spielberg's storied career, nudging past 1998's Saving Private Ryan with $216.5 million. 1982's E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial is still the filmmaker's highest grossing film ever with $435 million. The highest grossing Indiana Jones film is still 1981's Raiders of the Lost Ark with $242.3 million.

Rogue Picture's well-timed horror thriller The Strangers took in an estimated $20.7 million in its opening weekend, posting the second biggest horror opening of the year (April's Prom Night debuted with $20.8m). Budgeted at just $9 million, the Liv Tyler starrer averaged a strong $8,394 in 2,467 theaters. Reviews were mixed-to-poor, not that it really matters in the horror genre.

Still going strong in its fifth weekend of release was Marvel/Paramount's Iron Man, which fell just 32% to $14 million in fourth place. In 31 days the $140 million budgeted blockbuster has amassed $276.6 million. At its current pace, look for the film to surpass $320 million domestically.

Disney's fantasy sequel The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian fell 43% in its third weekend to $13 million, bringing its 17-day take to just $115.7 million. Budgeted at a massive $200 million the film looks on pace to finish with just half of its predecessor's $291.7 million domestic total back in 2005.

Thanks to a much stronger than anticipated debut from Sex and the City the top ten films grossed $163.7 million, up 28% from last year's comparable frame when Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End held onto the top spot with $44.2 million.

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