SUNDAY: Sony’s low-budget comedy The House Bunny, starring Scary Movie‘s Anna Faris and featuring Hugh Hefner’s trio of Playboy blondes in this blatant rip-off of their TV show Girls Next Door, almost beat out bigger budget movies. But after winning Friday, the $25M sorority spoof hopped back to No. 2 behind last week’s No. 1, DreamWorks / Paramount’s Tropic Thunder, which cost considerably more. The R-rated Ben Stiller-Jack Black-Robert Downey Jr satire about moviemaking regained the top spot Sunday with a $16.1M weekend after taking in $4.8 million Friday and $6.5 million from 3,352 venues for a new cume of $65.6M. It held up well at the box office midweek and was down only 38% this weekend to wind up the third movie this summer to repeat as #1. Overall, this Memorial Day to Labor Day domestic box office is just a few percentage points down from last summer’s record $4.16 billion, to Hollywood’s surprise and amazement. But that’s because the major studios churned out more edgy and original fare than the predictable and tired prequels, sequels and threequels of a year ago. Meanwhile, PG-13 The House Bunny found enough of the girl power audience (the script is written by Legally Blonde masterminds Karen McCullah Lutz and Kirsten Smith) to earn $5.8 million Friday and $5.2 million Saturday from 2,714 theaters for a $15.1M weekend. It was produced by Adam Sandler’s Happy Madison company.

Coming in a close No. 3 was Universal’s Death Race starring British action star Jason Stathem which debuted to $4.6 million Friday and $4.4 million Saturday in 2,532 dates for a disappointing $12.2M weekend despite attracting an ethnically diverse audience that was only 38% Latino and 12% African American. Warner Bros’ mega-blockbuster The Dark Knight wound up No. 4 after raking in another $2.9 million Friday and $4.4 million Saturday from 3,163 plays for what was a $10.3M weekend. The pic is closing in on an amazing $500 million North American cume (now $489.1M) before the end of August — which will set yet another record. Coming in No. 5 was LucasFilm/Warner Bros’ animated Star Wars: The Clone Wars which earned a $5.5M weekend weekend from 3,542 venues for a new cume of $24.9M. And, making it three comedies in the Top 6 movies at the box office, Sony’s Judd Apatow-bannered R-rated comedy Pineapple Express managed another $5.6 million weekend from 2,620 runs for a $73.9M cume. The only other newcomer was Dimension-MGM’s Ice Cube football comedy The Longshots, which eked out just a $4.3M weekend from 2,089 theaters for 9th place. (No wonder there’s news that MGM’s investors have put the flailing studio up for sale.) And, finally, Fox Atomic’s leftover The Rocker opened stillborn Wednesday and finished 12th Friday with only $2.7M for the weekend and a 5-day cume of just $3.8M. Usual powerhouse Fox has had a truly lousy summer.

The rest of the Top 10 were holdovers: #7 Fox’s Mirrors posted a $4.8M weekend and new $20M cume, #8 Universal’s Mamma Mia! had another $4.3M weekend and new $124.4M cume, #10 Universal’s The Mummy 3: Tomb Of The Dragon Emperor took in a $4M weekend and new $93.8M cume.