August 27, 2006

“Invincible” scores touchdown at box office

By Dean Goodman

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - The new Mark Wahlberg football
drama "Invincible" lived up to its immodest name at the weekend
box office in North America but overall ticket sales resumed
their decline as the lucrative summer moviegoing period drew to
a close.

According to studio estimates issued on Sunday, Walt Disney
Co.'s true-life underdog tale "Invincible" opened at No. 1 with
three-day sales of $17.0 million, in line with the studio's

Sony Corp.'s Will Ferrell comedy "Talladega Nights: The
Ballad of Ricky Bobby" held at a distant No. 2 with $8.0
million in its fourth weekend. Its total rose to $127.7
million. News Corp.'s late-summer hit "Little Miss Sunshine"
jumped four places to No. 3 with $7.5 million as the family
comedy added more theaters. Its total rose to $23.0 million
after five weeks.

Last weekend's champ, the underwhelming camp comedy "Snakes
on a Plane," crashed to No. 6 with $6.4 million. Its two-week
total stands at $26.6 million.

Besides "Invincible," three other new releases entered the
fray, not that many people noticed. The Oktoberfest comedy
"Beerfest" guzzled $6.5 million, tying at No. 4 with the
college comedy "Accepted."

The retro hip-hop musical "Idlewild," starring the members
of Grammy-winning duo OutKast," opened at No. 9 with $5.9
million. And the adaptation of the children's book "How To Eat
Fried Worms" opened at No. 11 with an unappetizing $4.1


Tracking firm Exhibitor Relations said the top 12 films
earned $83.9 million, the third consecutive week-on-week
decline. But sales were up four percent from the year-ago
period, when the hit comedy "The 40-Year-Old Virgin" was tops
for a second round with $16 million.

Now that the studios have fired (or misfired) their big
summer guns, they will spend the next few weeks releasing
leftover product. Moviegoers, for their part, will likely be
distracted by late summer activities and back-to-school

"Invincible" stars Wahlberg as a substitute teacher who
wins a spot in his beloved Philadelphia Eagles football team
against all odds. Greg Kinnear also stars, as he does in
"Little Miss Sunshine."

The presence of Wahlberg, a 35-year-old former underwear
model, helped contribute to a surprisingly large number of
female viewers -- about 47 percent, according to exit polling
data cited by Disney.

Not surprisingly, male youngsters turned out in droves for
"Beerfest," but a spokesman at Time Warner Inc.-owned
distributor Warner Bros. had hoped it would open "a few million
higher" than $6.5 million.

Given its limited release -- 973 theaters vs. more than
2,600 for most of the other films in the top 10 -- the $5.9
million opening for "Idlewild" was decent. The Universal
Pictures release, set against the backdrop of a 1930s
speakeasy, was actually finished two years ago while OutKast
principals Andre (Andre 3000) Benjamin and Antwan Patton (Big
Boi) completed the soundtrack.

According to exit polling 82 percent of the audience was
black, and 61 percent female. Universal, a unit of General
Electric Co.'s NBC Universal Inc., released the musical on
behalf of Time Warner-owned HBO Films.

"How to Eat Fried Worms," based on Thomas Rockwell's
popular 1973 children's book, was released by Time Warner's New
Line Cinema, which also handled "Snakes on a Plane." A studio
spokesman was not available for comment.

Although it fell four places to No. 12 with $4.0 million in
its eighth week, Disney's "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's
Chest" now ranks as the No. 6 movie of all time in North
America with sales of $407.6 million.