First look: 'Wimpy Kid' scores an upset, 'Bounty Hunter' solid, 'Repo Men' empty-handed
20th Century Fox's adaptation of the comic and book series "Diary of a Wimpy Kid" scored a surprise victory at the box office this weekend, selling a studio-estimated $21.8 million worth of tickets from Friday through Sunday, more than any other new film in the U.S. and Canada.
Walt Disney Studio's 3-D "Alice in Wonderland" was, as expected, No. 1, declining 45% on its third weekend to $34.5 million and bringing its domestic total after 17 days to a fantastic $265.8 million.
The new Jennifer Aniston-Gerard Butler romantic comedy "The Bounty Hunter," which Sony Pictures and Relativity Media paid a little over $40 million to produce, opened to a good but not great $21 million.
Universal Pictures' and Relativity's "Repo Men," meanwhile, became the latest film from the two companies to flop, opening to a meager $6.2 million. The long-on-the-shelf science-fiction action film, which stars Jude Law and Forrest Whitaker, cost $32 million to make, meaning it will be another money loser after such recent disappointments for Universal and Relativity as "Green Zone" and "The Wolfman."
"Wimpy Kid," which came from the studio's Fox 2000 label, has no stars and cost just $15 million to produce, meaning it should be very profitable. It was the only picture this weekend to come in above expectations based on pre-release polling, demonstrating the potential of a targeted family film based on a well-known property.
Summit Entertainment expanded director Roman Polanski's political drama "The Ghost Writer" nation-wide after a strong run in limited release, but didn't get many votes. It took in $2.1 million from 819 theaters, bringing its total to $6.8 million.
Of last weekend's new movies, only "She's Out of My League" showed staying power, dropping a modest 38%. Political action film "Green Zone" was down 58%, romantic drama "Remember Me" fell 59% and the comedy "Our Family Wedding" dropped off 50%.
In limited release, the new Noah Baumbach drama "Greenberg" opened to a healthy $120,432 at three theaters in Los Angeles and New York City. "The Runaways," based on the real 1970s female rock band of the same name, started with a less impressive $803,629 at 244 locations.
-- Ben Fritz
Photo: Zachary Gordon, third from right, stars in "Diary of a Wimpy Kid." Photo credit: Rob McEwan / 20th Century Fox