Will Ferrell has played an elf, an anchorman, a NASCAR driver and now an ice skater. What he rarely plays -- at least when it comes to silly comedies -- is second fiddle at the box office.
DreamWorks Pictures and MTV Films' "Blades of Glory," Ferrell's latest high-concept parody, skated off with an estimated $33 million in its opening weekend in the U.S. and Canada. DreamWorks spokesman Marvin Levy said the studio was on a roll with "Dreamgirls," "Norbit" and now "Blades of Glory."
"I like to think of this as our own triple axel," Levy said.
The comedy bested another solid opener, the animated "Meet the Robinsons," one of the widest releases of a 3-D movie in recent years.
"Blades of Glory," distributed by Viacom Inc.'s Paramount Pictures, averaged about $9,800 per theater in more than 3,300 engagements to easily rank No. 1. It also stars cult favorite Jon Heder from "Napoleon Dynamite" as Ferrell's rival who becomes his unlikely figure-skating partner.
"Meet the Robinsons," a futuristic, G-rated adventure from Walt Disney Co.'s Buena Vista Pictures, met industry expectations with a $25.1-million launch. It ranked second, averaging $7,300 per theater.
One other film opened broadly over the weekend. Despite favorable reviews, Miramax's "The Lookout," a neo-noir crime caper from writer-director Scott Frank, grossed a disappointing $2 million, ranking 11th.
"Blades of Glory" opened below Ferrell's hit from last summer, "Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby," which brought in $47 million for his biggest opening. But its launch was on par with the former "Saturday Night Live" star's earlier hits "Elf" and "Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy."
"Meet the Robinsons" apparently got a boost from the more than 600 of its 3,400 theaters that showed the family film in digital 3-D from Real D, although Disney provided no breakout.
Studios and exhibitors are monitoring the ticket sales of films such as "Meet the Robinsons" as they embrace -- and invest in -- the latest generation of 3-D technology.
The movie tells the story of a young, budding inventor named Lewis who gets whisked into a retro-style future. Its voice cast includes Angela Bassett and Laurie Metcalf.
Disney-owned Miramax, meanwhile, hopes "The Lookout" will benefit in the coming weeks from positive word of mouth. Joseph Gordon-Levitt plays a bank janitor who gets caught up in a heist scheme, and Jeff Daniels costars. "The Lookout" averaged $2,100 per theater in 955 engagements.
Among holdovers, the Spartan warriors of Warner Bros.' "300" kept marching toward the $200-million mark in the U.S. and Canada and $500 million worldwide.
The battle epic ranked No. 3 in the U.S. and Canada. It stayed No. 1 in other markets, raising its total to $126 million through four weekends.
Warner Bros. and Weinstein Co.'s "TMNT" slowed in its second weekend. After topping the box office a week ago, the latest Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie fell an estimated 62%, hurt partly by family-oriented "Meet the Robinsons."
Also dropping sharply in their second weekends was New Line Cinema's family-oriented fantasy "The Last Mimzy," down 60%; Fox Atomic's horror flick "The Hills Have Eyes 2," off 59%; and Lions Gate's sports drama "Pride," down 58%.
Holding up better were Paramount's thriller "Shooter," off 45%; and Sony Pictures' Sept. 11-themed drama "Reign Over Me," starring Adam Sandler and Don Cheadle, which slid 50%.
On the art-house circuit, Fox Searchlight's "The Namesake" stayed strong in the fourth week of its gradual rollout. Expanding to 237 theaters, the drama about two generations of an Indian immigrant family in the U.S. grossed $1.5 million, averaging $6,500 per theater.
Industrywide, box-office totals declined from the same weekend in 2006, reversing a four-week up trend. A year ago, "Ice Age: The Meltdown" opened at a whopping $68 million.
So far in 2007, revenue and attendance are still ahead of last year's pace. Revenue is up 5.7% and attendance has climbed 4%, according to research firm Media by Numbers.
Heading into Easter, this week's new releases start with two family comedies coming Wednesday, "Are We Done Yet?" and "Firehouse Dog." The thriller "The Reaping" comes Thursday, followed Friday by "Grindhouse," a double dose of ultra-violent pulp directed by Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez.
(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX)
Preliminary results (in millions) in the U.S. and Canada, based on studio projections:
*--* Movie 3-day gross Total Blades of Glory $33.0 $33.0
Meet the Robinsons 25.1 25.1
300 11.2 179.7
TMNT 9.2 38.4
Wild Hogs 8.4 135.4
Shooter 8.0 27.2
Premonition 5.1 39.3
The Last Mimzy 4.0 16.2
The Hills Have Eyes II 3.9 15.8
Reign Over Me 3.7 13.3
*--* 3-day gross Change (in millions) from 2006 $128.0 -9.9%
Year-to-date gross Change (in billions) from 2006 $2.12 +5.7%
Source: Media by Numbers