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The Honolulu Advertiser

Updated at 3:19 a.m., Monday, April 2, 2007

Ferrell skates to another gold medal at box office

Josh Friedman
Los Angeles Times

HOLLYWOOD — 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 at the U.S. and Canadian box office. 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 3-D releases 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 rank No. 1 easily. 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 million debut. 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 debuted with $47 million, 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 received a boost from the more than 600 of its 3,400 theaters that showed the family film in digital 3-D.

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 is 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 caught up in a heist scheme, and Jeff Daniels co-stars.

"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 to a veritable crawl in its second weekend in the U.S. and Canada.

After topping the box office a week ago, the latest Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie fell an estimated 62 percent, hurt partly by competition from 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 percent; Fox Atomic's horror flick "The Hills Have Eyes 2," off 59 percent; and Lions Gate's sports drama "Pride," down 58 percent.

Holding up better were Paramount's thriller "Shooter," off 45 percent; and Sony Pictures' Sept. 11-themed drama "Reign Over me," starring Adam Sandler and Don Cheadle, which slid 50 percent.

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 to a whopping $68 million.

So far in 2007, revenue and attendance are still ahead of last year's pace. Revenue is up 5.7 percent and attendance has climbed 4 percent, according to research firm Media by Numbers.

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.