chuck5.jpgSUNDAY AM: A PG-13 spoof about two firefighters posing as gay lovers so they can be friends with benefits tickled U.S. funny bones on Date Night as Universal’s I Now Pronounce You Chuck And Larry beat magic and music and became the No. 1 movie in the U.S. and Canada. The pic, which the studio made in consultation with gay rights groups so it didn’t offend, opened to $34.8 mil this weekend at 3,495 dates. The laugher was  also the top finisher Friday with $12.6 mil and Saturday with $11.9 mil. With a B+ Cinemascore despite poor reviews, the pic was given 90% A’s or B+’s, skewing higher among younger audiences, both male and female. The studio said both Adam Sandler and Jessica Biel were big draws, but the real reason people went to see Chuck And Larry was the prospect of a light summer comedy. (There just haven’t been enough of them.) Internationally, the film starts releasing next weekend and rolls out through September. After a slow start, Universal now has three comedies in the Top 10, including Evan Almighty and Knocked Up. (For more background, see my previous, Weekend Predictions For Sandler vs Travolta.)

hairspray2.jpgNew Line’s heavily and expensively marketed Hairspray, with John Travolta in drag, dropped down to No. 3 after a weaker Saturday ($9.2 mil) than Friday ($11 mil) from 3,121 theaters for what was a $27.2 mill weekend. Interestingly, the per screen averages for Hairspray and Chuck were nearly identical Friday (in the $3,500 range) but widened by Sunday. As expected, one week out Harry Potter And The Order Of The Phoenix moved up to No. 2 after another round of Saturday kiddie matinees. On Friday, the Warner fivequel took in $10.4 million from 4,285 venues and $12.2 mil Saturday for a $33.2 mil weekend (-57%). Its hot new North American cume is already $208.5 million. There’d been speculation whether the new Harry Potter book would cut into the franchise’s movie ticket sales. Nah!

With three popular movies topping the Top 10, it’s no surprise that the weekend already is up 7% over same time last year. The trio also stole some momentum from the No. 4 film, DreamWorks and Paramount coproduction Transformers, which made $20.5 mil this weekend — a drop of only 45% — from 3,762 runs. harryphoenix5.jpgIts domestic cume is now a gigantic $262.9 mil. No. 5 Disney / Pixar’s Ratatouille has a big new cume already of $165.6 mil starting its 4th week in release. It made $11 mil this weekend from 3,402 theaters.

The bottom half of the Top 10 is struggling to catch a break. Beginning 4 weeks out, Fox’s Live Free Or Die Hard starring Bruce Willis took in another $7.2 mil this weekend from 2,727 venues for 6th place. Its new cume is $116.3 mil. No. 7 went to Warner’s License To Wed, which eked out $3.7 mil Friday from 2,525 runs. Its cume is $38.6 mil. The Weinstein Co / MGM’s horror pic 1408 starring John Cusack from Stephen King took 8th place, struggling with $2.4 mil this weekend from 1,451 dates, for a new cume of $67.5 mil. Universal’s family comedy Evan Almighty, #9, made $2.4 mil this weekend from 1,779 theaters for a new cume of $93.4 mil on its 5th weekend. And rounding out the Top 10), the studio’s R-rated laugher Knocked Up took in another $2.3 mil this weekend from 1,288 venues for a new cume of $142.7 mil on its 8th weekend. (Co-star Katherine Heigl just got nominated for an Emmy).

Here’s the Top 10 chart:

  1. 1. Chuck And Larry $12.6M Fri, $11.9M Sat, and est $9.1M Sun. (cume $34.8M)
  2. 2. Harry Potter Phoenix $10.4M Fri, $12.3M Sat, and est $9.8M Sun. ($208.5M)
  3. 3. Hairspray $11M Fri, $9.2M Sat, and est $7M Sun. ($27.2M)
  4. 4. Transformers $6.1M Fri, $7.9M Sat, and est $6M Sun. ($262.9M)
  5. 5. Ratatouille $3.5M Fri, $4.2M Sat, and est $3.4M Sun. ($165.6M)
  6. 6. Live Free Or Die Hard $2.1M Fri, $2.8M Sat, and est $2M Sun. ($116.1M)
  7. 7. License To Wed $1.2M Fri, $1.5M Sat, and est $1.1M Sun. ($38.7M)
  8. 8. 1408 $825K Fri, $1M Sat, and est $715K Sun. ($67.5M)
  9. 9. Evan Almighty $801K Fri, $961K Sat, and est $700K Sun. ($93.4M)
  10. 10. Knocked Up $702K Fri, $914K Sat, and est $650K Sun. ($142.7M)