SATURDAY PM/SUNDAY AM: Early overall numbers show it was this summer’s first soft weekend at the domestic box office. Moviegoers puzzled whether Universal’s Funny People was a comedy or dramedy (more the latter) as Adam Sandler continued his cold streak playing serious and Judd Apatow stretched beyond his usual raunchy laffers. The studio all along tried to lower expectations by predicting an opening weekend of $25 million. But the pic couldn’t get there and settled for a disappointing $23.4M. It’s one of the lowest results for Sandler, who has a great record opening comedies in the $30sM and $40sM. Playing in 3,008 North American theaters, Funny People comfortably debuted #1 but with low results: $8.6 million Friday and then dropping 17% to $7.4 million Saturday. Universal execs begged wanted director Apatow to shorten the 2-hour, 25-minute movie — especially the last half-hour starring his wife Leslie Mann. (See Behind-The-Scenes Of Apatow & Universal) But Judd has made so much money for so many studios, and especially Universal, as a writer, director and producer that he’d earned the right to take more creative license than just make another big commercial hit which the suits would have liked better. (Indeed, top critics gave the film only 47% positive reviews on Rotten Tomatoes.) No matter: Apatow will direct his next 3 films at Universal. But Funny People, like the studio’s Bruno, didn’t live up to its tracking, which showed big and broad 4-quadrant appeal, and the most interest coming from young men and even older females. Based on that, rival studios thought the pic could get into the $30sM and even hit $40M. Nope. Given the studio’s troubles at the box office this summer, Funny People must make at least $100M domestic and will be hard pressed to get there. Its cost is estimated at $70M-$100M. (Relativity co-financed this film behind Universal’s distribution fee. Sony has a piece of it because Sandler, who has a deal there, insisted on it.) It won’t get near Apatow’s other two directorial efforts, The 40-Year Old Virgin which made over $177M worldwide and Knocked Up over $219M globally.
Jerry Bruckheimer’s first 3-D foray, Disney’s G-Force about secret agent guinea pigs — hey, the studio just sells them, not smells them — made $5.7M Friday and $6.4M Saturday for #2, or -40% from its 1st play finish last weekend. The pic scored a $17.2M weekend for a new cume of $66.6M. Helped by $3.2M generated by 166 IMAX screens, Warner Bros’ Harry Potter And The Half-Blood Prince was #3 earning $5.2M Friday and $6.6M Saturday for a $17.2M weekend and cume of $254.9M. Sony’s Ugly Truth was #4, taking in $4.4M Friday and $4.7 Saturday for a $12.8M weekend (-51% from last weekend’s) and $54.2M cume. And New Regency/Fox’s blatant E.T. rip-off Aliens In The Attic eked out only $2.8M Friday and $2.8M Saturday from 3,106 venues for an expectedly weak $7.8M opening weekend. Overall, the weekend was around $120M, down 20% from last year when The Dark Knight dominated.