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B.O. Analysis, Aug. 24: 'Tropic Thunder' Hunts Down 'House Bunny' for Weekend Win

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Aug 24, 2008 | 9:41am EDT

On Friday night I reported that The House Bunny (Sony) had won the Friday box office race, but that Tropic Thunder (Dreamworks/Paramount) would win the weekend, and that is exactly the way it played out. The Anna Faris PG13-rated comedy was down almost 12 percent from its $5.92M Friday for $5.25M on its second day of release, and it will likely hit $15.1M for the three-days. That is well above industry expectations for the modestly-budgeted Under 25 Female-geared movie.

Meanwhile, the Ben Stiller-directed Tropic Thunder, which struggled to a less-than-expected $36.8M in its first five days competing with Michael Phelps and his historic chase for eight gold medals in Beijing, held very strongly with a second Saturday of just under $6.5M. The R-rated movie-within-a-movie comedy will finish the frame with an estimated $16.1M, down just 37 percent from last weekend, pushing it to a new cume of just over $65M. With very light competition over the next month, Tropic Thunder still has a real shot at reaching $100M domestic.

At No. 3 for the weekend is Universal’s Death Race, a re-make of the 1975 film Death Race 2000, produced by the prolific Roger Corman. The R-rated action pic was, as expected, front-loaded, so it followed its $4.6M Friday with a Saturday of $4.4M or so, five percent lower than opening day. That translates to a $12.29M opening weekend. That makes for the all-time fourth-best opening for Jason Statham, behind The Italian Job ($19.4M), The One ($19.1M) and Transporter 2 ($16.5M).

Still, Death Race opened stronger than recent Jason Statham openings The Bank Job ($5.93M), Crank ($10.4M), War ($9.8M) and In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale ($3M). The Universal action pic should finish its domestic run with a cume of $30M-$33M.

The Dark Knight (Warner Bros) continues to hold strong with an estimated $10.3M and a new cume of $489.17M. The Christopher Nolan-directed action picture will pass $500M domestic by Labor Day. Meanwhile, Star Wars: The Clone Wars, another Warner Bros property, held on to No. 5, but it stalled dramatically in its second weekend. The LucasFilm animated film is expected to wrap the frame with just $5.66M, down 61 percent from its opening three-day, and a 10-day cume of $25M.

The other two wide new wide releases are both disappointments. The Longshots (MGM), starring Ice Cube, appears to have finished eighth overall with just $4.3M. The Rocker (Fox) performed even worse than its already dismally low expectations with a mere $2.75M for three days and an embarrassing $3.8M for five-days. Don’t expect to see Rainn Wilson from The Office above-the-title anytime soon.

Among limited releases, the immaculately-reviewed Elegy (Samuel Goldwyn), starring Oscar-winner Ben Kingsley and Penelope Cruz, scored an excellent $5,400+ Per Theatre Average at 92 locations, and Hamlet 2 (Focus), a hit at Sundance, grabbed over $4,200 per screen at 102 locations.

FINAL THREE-DAY STUDIO ESTIMATES

1. Tropic Thunder (Dreamworks/Paramount) - $16.1M, $4,803 PTA, $65.66M

2. The House Bunny (Sony) - $15.1M, $5,563 PTA, $15.1M cume

3. Death Race (Universal) - $12.29M, $4,855 PTA, $12.29M cume

4. The Dark Knight (Warner Bros) - $10.3M, $3,527 PTA, $489.17M cume

5. Star Wars: The Clone Wars (Warner Bros) - $5.66M, $1,639 PTA, $25M cume

6. Pineapple Express (Sony) - $5.6M, $2,137 PTA, $73.92M cume

7. Mirrors (Fox) - $4.87M, $1,829 PTA, $20M cume

8. The Longshots (MGM) - $4.3M, $2,060 PTA, $4.3M cume

9. Mamma Mia (Universal) - $4.3M, $1,849 PTA, $124.44M cume

10. The Mummy 3 (Universal) - $4.06M, $1,680 PTA, $93.81M cume

*The Rocker (Fox) - $2.75M, $987 PTA, $3.8M cume

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