'Failure to Launch' soars to top of box office with $24.6 million

Monday, March 13, 2006

LOS ANGELES -- "Failure to Launch," a romantic comedy starring Matthew McConaughey and Sarah Jessica Parker, took off at theaters, debuting as the top weekend movie with $24.6 million.

Two remakes opened in second and third place. Disney's family flick "The Shaggy Dog," starring Tim Allen, was No. 2 with $16 million, and Fox Searchlight's horror tale "The Hills Have Eyes" was No. 3 with $15.5 million, according to studio estimates Sunday.

"Failure to Launch," released by Paramount, bumped off Lionsgate's "Tyler Perry's Madea's Family Reunion," which had been the No. 1 movie the previous two weekends. That movie slipped to No. 5, grossing $5.8 million to raise its total to $55.8 million.

Reviews generally were poor for all three new films, but they overcame the weak critical reception to combine for a healthy $56.1 million. Still, they were unable to match last year's top three, "Robots," "The Pacifier" and "Be Cool," which combined for $64.4 million over the same weekend.

The top 12 movies this weekend grossed $92.4 million, down 10.7 percent compared to the same weekend in 2005. After a strong start this year, Hollywood has slid back into a slump that persisted last year.

While revenues are up slightly this year, factoring in higher ticket prices, attendance is down about 1 percent compared to 2005, said Paul Dergarabedian, president of box-office tracker Exhibitor Relations.

The three new wide releases offered solid variety for audiences, with "Failure to Launch," "The Shaggy Dog" grabbing parents and their children and "The Hills Have Eyes" bringing in horror fans.

"Failure to Launch" stars McConaughey as a 35-year-old still living with his parents, who hire a bombshell (Parker) to entice him into moving out. The audience was two-thirds female, according to distributor Paramount.

"There hasn't been a good date movie in a while, and I think women just felt like it was going to be a fun movie," said Rob Moore, the studio's worldwide head of marketing and distribution.

"The Shaggy Dog" features Allen, Robert Downey Jr. and Parker's "Sex and the City" co-star Kristin Davis in an update of the 1959 Disney original and sequel, "The Shaggy D.A." Allen plays a prosecutor transformed by a canine bite into a goofy sheepdog.

"The Hills Have Eyes" updates Wes Craven's 1977 horror story, about a family whose road trip takes a grisly detour when they encounter mutant cannibals. Craven serves as a producer on the remake.

Though already out on home video, the ensemble drama "Crash" returned for an encore in theaters to capitalize on its best-picture Academy Award the previous weekend. The film reopened in 175 theaters and grossed $357,000, raising its theatrical total to $53.8 million.

Here are estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday at U.S. and Canadian theaters, according to Exhibitor Relations Co. Inc. Final figures will be released Monday.

1. "Failure to Launch," $24.6 million.

2. "The Shaggy Dog," $16 million.

3. "The Hills Have Eyes," $15.5 million.

4. "16 Blocks," $7.3 million.

5. "Tyler Perry's Madea's Family Reunion," $5.8 million.

6. "Eight Below," $5.4 million.

7. "Aquamarine," $3.65 million.

8 (tie). "The Pink Panther," $3.6 million.

8 (tie). "Ultraviolet," $3.6 million.

10. "Date Movie," $2.5 million.


Universal Pictures and Focus Features are owned by NBC Universal, a joint venture of General Electric Co. and Vivendi Universal; DreamWorks is a unit of DreamWorks SKG Inc.; Sony Pictures, Sony Screen Gems and Sony Pictures Classics are units of Sony Corp.; Paramount and Paramount Classics are divisions of Viacom Inc.; Disney's parent is The Walt Disney Co.; Miramax is a division of The Walt Disney Co.; 20th Century Fox and Fox Searchlight Pictures are owned by News Corp.; Warner Bros., New Line and Warner Independent are units of Time Warner Inc.; Lionsgate is owned by Lionsgate Entertainment Corp.; IFC Films is owned by Rainbow Media Holdings, a subsidiary of Cablevision Systems Corp.

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