21_galleryposter.jpgSUNDAY AM: This weekend’s movie gross showed that Hollywood couldn’t revive the slumping box office during spring break even though 30% of students are out of school. No. 1 is Sony Pictures’s PG-rated based-on-a-true-story 21, which opened to a solid $8.6 million Friday and $9.6 million Saturday from 2,648 theaters. With Sunday estimates, that makes a better than expected $23.7M for the moderately budgeted pic (sources tell me it cost $35M). The casino card-counting caper suddenly came on strong tracking-wise these past two weeks to surprise everyone but the studio execs. A shocker was how weak the reviews were: only 22% positive among top critics on Rotten Tomatoes. But audiences craved the escapism. As a rival marketer gushed to me, “It is wish fulfilment in the truest sense of the phrase, this notion of a real person being able to beat the system, get the girl and live the life. The pic tapped into that really nicely.” I’m told the audience was broad based, drawing from all 4 quadrants — older and younger men and women, with 53% male and 47% female with 53% under the age of 25.

superheromovie_galleryposter.jpgIn its 3rd weekend in release, Fox’s Horton Hears A Who! continued playing strong in 3,826 dates for $5.2 million Friday and $7.3 million thanks to Saturday kiddie matinees to surge well past the all-important $100 million mark. It’s new cume is $117.2M after this weekend’s extra $17.4M because there was little else at the cineplex aimed at tots.

In 3rd place is The Weinstein Co’s Dimension/MGM spoof Superhero Movie which was a superdud. Despite playing wide in 2,960 venues, the newcomer finished Friday virtually stillborn with only $3.4 million and Saturday with $3.8 million. That meant a $9.5 million weekend which is 33% less than its studios were hoping and the experts were predicting. Frankly, it’s unthinkable since this pic had a big 75% awareness equally divided among males and females. Gee, Bob Weinstein’s Dimension banner used to be the best at making this genre of light satires when it was based at Disney. But maybe audiences are tired of seeing the same old shtick. However, some analysts astutely foresaw a problem with Superhero going after the same PG-13 audience as 21. A Superhero insider told me over the weekend: “We played young because of Drake Bell. stoploss_galleryposter.jpgWe were doing well during the day but fell off at night. 21 ended up with the audience we needed. It seems they got the teens and did better than expected with them.”

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No. 4 was Tyler Perry’s Meet The Browns which scored $7.7M this weekend from 2,016 runs for Lionsgate starting its 2nd week in release. Its new cume is $32.8M. Two holdovers, Paramount’s Drillbit Taylor (3,061 dates) and Fox’s Shutter (2,756 plays) duked it out for 5th place. The Owen Wilson starrer from Judd Apatow and Seth Rogen won with a $5.8M weekend (and new $20.5M cume) while the horror flick finished 6th with a $5.3M weekend (and new $19.1M cume).

Friday’s No. 7 Stop-Loss fell a spot to 8th after it opened to only $1.7 million Friday and Saturday from a limited 1,291 plays. It eked out a $4.5M weekend. Although the drama from MTV Films was the best-reviewed movie opening this weekend, Paramount wasn’t expecting much because no Iraq war-themed movie has yet to perform at the box office. “It’s not looking good,” a studio source told me before the weekend. “No one wants to see Iraq war movies. No matter what we put out there in terms of great cast or trailers, people were completely turned off. It’s a function of the marketplace not being ready to address this conflict in a dramatic way because the war itself is something that’s unresolved yet. It’s a shame because it’s a good movie that’s just ahead of its time.”

Finishing out the Top 10: Warner Bros’ 10,000 BC was #7 with a $4.8M weekend and still anemic new cume of $84.9M from 3,055 theaters; what a bad sign that, starting its 4th week in release, this expensive CGI-bloated pic still hasn’t broken the $100M barrier. Disney’s College Road Trip held onto 9th with $3.5M for its 4th weekend in release at 2,270 dates. And No. 10 was Lionsgate’s The Bank Job, hanging in for a $2.8M weekend from 1,869 venues.

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