"Max Payne," the film adaptation of a popular video game, set the high score over the weekend with $18 million in ticket sales, according to studio estimates.
The PG-13-rated thriller gave 20th Century Fox its first No. 1 launch in seven months. The opening-night crowd was heavily male and young, matching the video game demographic. Males constituted 65% of the Friday audience, according to exit polling the studio conducted, and females accounted for 35%.
"Beverly Hills Chihuahua," taking in $11.2 million in its third week, and "The Secret Life of Bees," making $11.1 million, were second and third, respectively, in sales.
A strong turnout by liberals, meanwhile, put "W.," the biography of President Bush, in fourth place, with $10.6 million in sales. Studio polls showed 55% of the audience called themselves liberals and 31% identified themselves as moderates. Only 14% of the audience said they were conservative.
While drawing more liberals than conservatives, the film was released across the country in diverse markets. "Attendance was strong in both red and blue states," said Steve Rothenberg, president of domestic distribution for the film's distributor, Lionsgate.
Filling a gap in films marketed to women, "The Secret Life of Bees" beat expectations, said Steve Gilula, co-chief operating officer of distributor Fox Searchlight. "It was fabulous. It only cost $11 million to make. To gross the budget the first weekend is just terrific," he said.
The PG-13-rated adaptation of the novel of the same name stars Dakota Fanning, Queen Latifah, Jennifer Hudson, Alicia Keys and Sophie Okonedo. Its weekend sales appear to validate the distributor's view that the film's appeal would reach beyond African Americans.
Final weekend box-office figures come out today.
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Weekend box office
Preliminary results (in millions) in the U.S. and Canada, based on studio projections:
*--* Movie 3-day gross Total (studio) (millions) (millions) Weeks
1 Max Payne (20th Century Fox) $18.0 $18.0 1
2 Beverly Hills Chihuahua (Disney) 11.2 69.1 3
3 The Secret Life of Bees 11.1 11.1 1 (Fox Searchlight)
4 W. (Lionsgate) 10.6 10.6 1
5 Eagle Eye (Paramount/DreamWorks) 7.3 81.3 4
6 Body of Lies (Warner Bros.) 6.9 24.5 2
7 Quarantine (Sony) 6.3 24.7 2
8 Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist 3.9 26.7 3 (Sony)
9 Sex Drive (Summit) 3.6 3.6 1
10 Nights in Rodanthe (Warner Bros.) 2.7 36.9 4 *--*
*--* 3-day gross Change Year-to-date gross Change (in millions) from 2007 (in billions) from 2007 $81.5 +12% $7.67 -0.3% *--*
Source: Nielsen EDI