'Guess Who' debuts at theaters with $21 million

Monday, March 28, 2005

LOS ANGELES -- Two guesses on who topped the weekend box office.

The Bernie Mac and Ashton Kutcher comedy "Guess Who," an update to the 1967 classic "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner," debuted at No. 1 with $21 million, according to studio estimates Sunday.

Sandra Bullock's sequel, "Miss Congeniality 2: Armed and Fabulous," opened in second place with $14.5 million for Friday to Sunday. That brought the movie's total to $17.6 million since it opened Thursday to get a head start on Easter weekend.

The previous weekend's top flick, "The Ring 2," slipped to third with $13.8 million, lifting its 10-day total to $58 million.

It was a solid but unremarkable Easter weekend, generally a slow time at theaters because families are preoccupied with holiday gatherings. The top 12 movies took in $90.1 million, off 7 percent from Easter weekend last year, when "The Passion of the Christ" was No. 1.

"Guess Who" stars Mac as a black father who learns his daughter's boyfriend, Kutcher, is white.

It is a reversal of the scenario of "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner," which starred Spencer Tracy, Katharine Hepburn and Sidney Poitier in the story about a white woman engaged to a black man.

While the original was heavy on social commentary amid the civil-rights movement, "Guess Who" plays the interracial romance angle for slapstick laughs.

"'Guess Who's Coming to Dinner' is the inspiration, but this is very broad comedy that plays really well in kind of the buddy mode as well as the romantic comedy mode," said Rory Bruer, head of distribution for Sony, which released "Guess Who."

In "Miss Congeniality 2," Bullock returns to her role as a tomboy FBI agent who gets a fashion makeover. This time, she is teamed with a surly partner, Regina King, to track down a kidnapped beauty queen.

The sequel had a better opening weekend than the original, which debuted with just over $10 million on Christmas weekend 2000, then hung on through word of mouth to become a $100 million hit.

Woody Allen's comedy-drama hybrid "Melinda and Melinda" had a strong expansion from its debut at one New York City theater the previous weekend. The film, which stars Radha Mitchell in dual roles, widened to 95 theaters in 12 cities and took in $790,000.

"The Ballad of Jack and Rose," starring Daniel Day-Lewis, debuted well in limited release, taking in $60,461 in four theaters. Written and directed by Rebecca Miller, Day-Lewis' wife and the daughter of playwright Arthur Miller, the film centers on the relationship between a dying environmental idealist and his troubled teenage daughter.

The blood-soaked South Korean vengeance thriller "Oldboy," runner-up to "Fahrenheit 9/11" for the top prize at last spring's Cannes Film Festival, debuted solidly in limited release with $75,000 in five theaters.

Estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday at North American theaters, according to Exhibitor Relations Co. Inc. Final figures will be released today.

1. "Guess Who," $21 million.

2. "Miss Congeniality 2: Armed and Fabulous," $14.5 million.

3. "The Ring 2," $13.8 million.

4. "Robots," $13 million.

5. "The Pacifier," $8.5 million.

6. "Hitch," $4.3 million.

7. "Hostage," $4.1 million.

8. "Ice Princess," $3.7 million.

9. "Be Cool," $2.85 million.

10. "Million Dollar Baby," $2.6 million.

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