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'Funny People' off to a mixed start, divides the sexes

August 2, 2009 | 12:17 pm


 "Funny People" is a hit. And a flop.

The first serious-minded comedy from writer/director Judd Apatow split audiences along gender lines, with men giving the movie a B+ and women a C+, according to marketing research film CinemaScore. The result: a so-so $23.4-million opening.

Audiences are usually generous with their grading, so B+ means men generally liked it, but a C+ means most women did not.

That leaves Universal Studios, Sony Pictures and Relativity Media, who all contributed to the picture's $75-million production budget, in a tough spot. Though the movie certainly didn't flop, it needs to draw on good word-of-mouth among men to avoid a big drop and end up at least a modest success.

The opening weekend audience was almost evenly split between men and women, meaning male attendance will have to grow substantially to make up for what will presumably be a substantial drop-off among women. That will be challenging, however, since "G.I. Joe" opens on Friday and is tracking very strongly with males in pre-release polling.

Universal, which has been having a tough few months with disappointments "State of Play" and "Land of the Lost" and so-so performers "Bruno" and "Public Enemies," is distributing "Funny People" worldwide. It co-financed the picture with Sony Pictures and Relativity Media.

It was an overall soft weekend at the box office, down 20% from last year, according to data from That drove total summer ticket sales in the U.S. and Canada into negative territory compared with last year for the first time. It's expected to rebound in the next few weeks with "G.I. Joe" and District 9," though it remains to be seen if the rise will be enough to even account for ticket price inflation.

"Aliens in the Attic," the weekend's other new movie, ended up flopping as expected. The $45-million family comedy, co-financed by Fox and New Regency, sold only $7.8 million worth of tickets in the U.S. and Canada.

AliensAttic Fox Searchlight's "(500) Days of Summer" continued its strong run in limited release. The indie romantic comedy more than tripled its theater count to 266 and grossed a healthy $2.75 million, bringing its total to $6.8 million. This Friday it will expand to approximately 800 theaters.

Disney's family action flick "G-Force" had a decent second weekend drop of 46%, putting it in third place with $17.1 million. The movie was expensive to produce at $150 million, however, and Disney had been hoping for an even smaller decline. After solid weekday ticket sales, "G-Force" has now grossed a total of $66.5 million and likely won't earn more than $100 million domestically. As Walt Disney Co. chief executive Robert Iger admitted on an earnings conference call this week, the film will likely end up a money loser.

"The Ugly Truth" fared worse, declining a more dramatic 53% on its second weekend to $13 million, a signal that it won't have a long and prosperous box office run like other recent romantic comedies, including "The Proposal."

"Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince" got a boost from expanding into 162 new Imax theaters this week and declined only 40% on its third weekend to $17.7 million. After initially falling behind predecessor "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix" when accounting for inflation, it's now gaining ground.

International ticket sales for "Potter" continue to be spectacular. It earned $42.7 million this weekend, bringing its overseas total to $492.3 million and its worldwide gross to $747.8 million.

Here are the top 10 films at the box office in the U.S. and Canada, according to studio estimates and

1. "Funny People" (Universal/Sony/Relativity): Opened to $23.4 million.

2. "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince" (Warner Bros.): Declined a relatively modest 40% on its third weekend to $17.7 million, thanks to new Imax theaters. Domestic total: $255.5 million.

3. "G-Force" (Disney): Fell 46% on its second weekend to $17.1 million. Total U.S. and Canadian ticket sales: $66.5 million.

4. "The Ugly Truth" (Sony): $13 million, down 53% from its opening weekend. North America total: $54.5 million.

5. "Aliens in the Attic" (Fox/New regency): $7.8 million on its opening weekend.

6. "Orphan" (Warner Bros/Dark Castle): $7.25 million, a decent drop of 44% on its second weekend. Domestic total: $26.8 million.

7. "Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs" (Fox): $5.3 million, down 37% on its fifth weekend. Total domestic gross: $181.8 million.

8. "The Hangover" (Warner Bros./Legendary): $5.1 million, a drop of just 21% after nine weekends. U.S. and Canadian ticket sales now total $255.8 million.

9. "The Proposal" (Disney): $4.8 million, down only 24%. Domestic total: $148.9 million.

10. "Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen" (Paramount): $4.6 million, a decline of 43%. Its total domestic gross is now $388.1 million.

-- Ben Fritz

Photos: Adam Sandler and Seth Rogen in "Funny People." Credit: Tracy Bennett, Universal Studios. Ashley Boettcher in "Aliens in the Attic." Credit: Twentieth Century Fox.