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Opening day: 'Funny People' heading toward $25 million weekend

August 1, 2009 |  9:30 am

FunnyPeep Universal's somber comedy "Funny People" is off to a decent start, but the big question is: Will the word-of-mouth be strong or will it be another "Bruno?"

The Adam Sandler-Seth Rogen comedy sold $8.6 million worth of tickets Friday, according to Universal Studios. Assuming it follows the pattern of other comedies, it should end up earning about $25 million for the three-day weekend. That's lower then pre-release polling had indicated, but a respectable launch given the $75 million production budget.

It remains to be seen, however, how audiences respond to the picture's serious tone, a rare departure for the stars and a first ever attempt at pathos by writer/director Judd Apatow. If buzz from first-day viewers is bad and the movie experiences a substantial Saturday drop, as "Bruno" did, it could gross closer to $20 million and give Universal reason to worry about its final major release of the summer.

Fox and New Regency's "Aliens in the Attic," the weekend's other new picture, is off to a soft start as expected. It earned $2.85 million on Friday and will likely gross under $10 million through Sunday. The movie cost $45 million to produce.

Last weekend's No. 1 movie "G-Force" looks like it is holding on well, much to the relief of Walt Disney Pictures, which saw the costly $150 million production open to only $31.7 million last weekend. Its ticket sales declined 50% on Friday. Given the stronger performance of family pictures on Saturdays and Sundays, it should end up dropping closer to 40% for the three days.

"Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince" also had a solid showing Friday. It's on track to decline around 40% for the weekend as well, validating the theory of Warner Bros. that the movie's grosses would improve after it started playing in 162 new Imax theaters on Wednesday.

Update (Aug. 2, 8:55 AM): "Funny People" opened to $23.3 million. Details here.

-- Ben Fritz

Photo: Seth Rogen and Adam Sandler in "Funny People." Credit: Tracy Bennett, Universal Studios