According to The Hollywood Reporter, Universal's The 40 Year Old Virgin sowed its boxoffice oats in the top spot on its debut this weekend, taking in an estimated $20.6 million, while DreamWorks' Red Eye took flight in the second with an estimated opening of $16.5 million. But though both pictures landed at the high end of expectations, and opened better than the top two films during the comparable weekend last year, altogether it was another lackluster session at the boxoffice.
Steve Carell stars in the R-rated Virgin, a comedy helmed by Judd Apatow that drew a younger audience and skewed slightly female. Rachel McAdams and Cillian Murphy star in Red Eye, a PG-13 suspense thriller directed by Wes Craven, who has taken a respite from the horror genre.
Two other films opened in wide release this weekend, but neither fared nearly as well as Virgin and Red Eye. Buena Vista's CG-animated Valiant, from Vanguard Animation, opened in the seventh spot with a disappointing debut of an estimated $6.1 million from 2,014 theaters. Valiant, a G-rated film about a World War II carrier pigeon, was helmed by Gary Chapman and featured the voices of Ewan McGregor, Ricky Gervais and John Cleese.
The debut of 20th Century Fox's Supercross: The Movie was anything but super, crossing the finish line with an estimate of a meager $1.3 million from 1,621 theaters -- placing outside the top 12. The action drama, set in the world of Supercross motorcycle racing, was directed by Steve Boyum and has picked up an estimated $2 million since its Wednesday release. On the plus side for Fox this weekend, its PG-rated Fantastic Four surpassed the $150 million mark.
Paramount's Four Brothers held up well on its sophomore session, placing third with an estimated $13 million, down a moderate 39% from its debut. The Mark Wahlberg starrer, which was directed by John Singleton, has taken in about $43.6 million in its first 10 days.
In its sixth weekend, New Line Cinema's Wedding Crashers continued to cash in despite Virgin's solid play, placing fourth with an estimated $8.3 million. The blockbuster has taken in an estimated $177.9 million and is now the highest-grossing R-rated comedy of all time, surpassing Fox's There's Something About Mary ($176.5 million).
The second weekend of Universal's Skeleton Key, last weekend's suspense-thriller entree, placed fifth with an estimated $7.4 million, off a steep 54% from its opening, undoubtedly taking a hit from Red Eye, which appeals to the same audience. The Kate Hudson starrer has scared up about $30.1 million after 10 days.
And one of this summer's few surprise success stories, Warner Independent Pictures' March of the Penguins, waddled into an estimated $6.7 million to place sixth. The nature documentary was down a diminutive 2% from a week earlier and has grossed a sterling $48.6 million so far.
But back to the weekend's top film, Universal Pictures Distribution president Nikki Rocco said, "We're all very happy about the opening -- it's incredibly strong for an R-rated comedy that had a negative cost of $26 million. It's great that the film's performance was so close to its negative cost -- particularly in August."
The audience skewed younger, with 54% being under 30 years old, and 54% was female. In exit polls, Virgin generated strong results across the board. "I think positive word-of-mouth will allow this film to be one that lingers in the marketplace," Rocco said.
Likewise, DreamWorks executives were upbeat about the debut of Red Eye, which, like Virgin's, also carried a negative cost of about $26 million. "Obviously, it was a very good opening, but what was more impressive was Wes' (Craven) successful transition from horror films to the suspense-thriller genre," head of distribution Jim Tharp said.
A large 60% of the Red Eye audience was younger than 25, and 58% were female. A sizable 76% gave the film marks in the top two boxes, with females in particular rating the film even higher with 83% in those same boxes.
Taking a look at the weekend as a whole, the top 12 films took in an estimated $98.7 million, down 3% from the comparable session last year, when Warner Bros.' Exorcist: The Beginning ($18.1 million) and Paramount's Without a Paddle ($13.5 million) were the top films. The Hollywood Reporter projects the total for all films this weekend to be in the low- to mid-$110 million area, down slightly from last year's $118.2 million.
In the world of limited release films, ThinkFilm's The Untold Story of Emmett Louis Till opened on one screen in New York and grossed an estimated $8,695. The documentary, about the brutal murder of the Chicago teenager, which became a major catalyst in the civil rights movement, has taken in about $13,630 since it opened Wednesday.
The company's The Aristocrats added 86 runs, taking the count to 172, and grossed an estimated $700,494. The unrated comedy documentary averaged $4,073 per theater and has amassed $2.8 million since it was released four weeks ago.
In its third weekend, Focus Features' Broken Flowers took in an estimated $2.3 million from 389 theaters, up 271 from a week earlier. The Bill Murray starrer, helmed by Jim Jarmusch, averaged a stout $5,913 per theater and has picked up about $5.9 million so far.
Lions Gate's Grizzly Man was in 51 locations, up 22 from its debut, and grossed an estimated $295,000. The documentary averaged a hearty $5,784 per theater and has garnered about $706,004 to date.
Week two of IDP's Pretty Persuasion, from Samuel Goldwyn and Roadside Attractions, did an estimated $26,550 from nine sites, averaging $2,950 per theater. The cume-to-date for the unrated comedy-drama is an estimated $113,690.
Sony Pictures Classics' 2046 picked up an estimated $142,485 on its third weekend, averaging $4,913 per theater. The sci-fi romantic drama had 29 engagements and has grossed about $452,947 to date. The distributor's Junebug also was in 29 houses on its third frame, averaging $4,378 per theater and moving the cume to about $454,470.
For the week ending Aug. 18, the national boxoffice was down 9% from the comparable seven-day period last year ($185.9 million vs. $205 million), and the year-to-date boxoffice is off by nearly 8% from last year at this time ($5.76 billion vs. $6.25 billion). Estimated admissions have fallen nearly 11% from the comparable period last year.