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Comedy rules box office: 'Proposal' scores big, 'Hangover' still chugging

June 21, 2009 | 11:01 am

Comedy, whether it's romantic or raunchy, innocent or goofy, is on a roll at the the box office and helped end a three-week mini-slump for the industry.

PROPOSAL1 Thanks to the surprising strength of Disney's "The Proposal" and the solid opening of Sony's "Year One," this weekend's box office was up almost 3% over the same weekend a year ago. That ended three weekends of negative results in comparison to last June. And with "Transformers" and the latest "Harry Potter" on the way, box-office watchers can put away the Advil for now.

It wasn't just the new comedies driving attendance this weekend. "The Hangover" is still packing a punch for Warner Bros. three weeks after it opened, taking in $26.9 million, according to Hollywood.com.  Disney/Pixar's "Up" raked in another $21.3 million, and with $224.1 million total box office, it already has passed "Wall-E" in U.S. box office in just four weeks.

YEARONE2 "Comedy is on an extreme roll," said Chuck Viane, president of distribution for Walt Disney Studios. Unless, of course, you used to work on "Saturday Night Live." Eddie Murphy's  "Imagine That" took in only $3.1 million for Paramount in its second weekend while Will Ferrell's "Land of the Lost" pulled in just $4 million for Universal Pictures in its third week of release.

Viane said the $34.1 million that "The Proposal" earned was, to put it mildly, a surprise. "We never expected to double the best Sandra Bullock movie ever ["Premonition"]. Most industry estimates for the movie, which also may move Bullock's costar Ryan Reynolds into leading-man status, had it opening in the mid-$20-million range.

As expected, the audience for "The Proposal" was mostly female. But Viane said he expected that to change in the weeks ahead. "More and more guys are hearing how funny it is and are going along for the ride."

The other big comedy premiere, Sony's "Year One," starring Jack Black and Michael Cera as odd-couple cavemen, did a respectable $20.2 million, which was in line with industry projections. Rory Bruer, president of worldwide distribution at Sony Pictures Entertainment, said he was surprised that 53% of the audience for "Year One" was over 21. "We thought it would play much younger than it did," he said, adding that  $20.2 million is "a good start for us and in the range we were expecting."

Here are the top 10 films at the domestic box office this weekend, according to studio estimates and Hollywood.com:

1. "The Proposal" (Disney): Opened to $34.1 million.

2. "The Hangover" (Warner Bros./Legendary): $26.9 million, down only 18%. Domestic total: $152.9 million.

3. "Up" (Disney/Pixar): $21.3, off just 31%. Domestic total: $224.1 million

4. "Year One" (Sony/Columbia Pictures): Opened to $20.2 million

5."Taking of Pelham 123" (Sony/Columbia Pictures): $11.3 million, a 52% drop from its opening weekend. Domestic total: $43.3 million.

6. "Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian" (Fox): $7.3 million, down 24%. Domestic total: $156 million.

7. "Star Trek" (Paramount/Spyglass): $4.7 million, down 14%. Domestic total: $239.4 million.

8. "Land of the Lost" (Universal): $4 million, down 56%. Domestic total: $43.7 million.

9. "Imagine That" (Paramount): $3.1 million, down 44%. Domestic total: $11.3 million.

10. "Terminator: Salvation" (Warner Bros./Halcyon): $3.1 million, down 36%. Domestic total: $119.5 million.

-- Joe Flint

Photos: (Top) Ryan Reynolds and Sandra Bullock  in "The Proposal." Credit: Kerry Hayes / Touchstone Pictures. (Bottom) Michael Cera and Jack Black in "Year One." Credit: Suzanne Hanover / Columbia Pictures


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