"21" wins jackpot at North American box office

Sun Mar 30, 2008 2:37pm EDT
 
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By Dean Goodman

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - The new gambling drama "21" played a winning hand at the weekend box office in North America, earning an estimated $23.7 million in its first round, distributor Columbia Pictures said on Sunday.

The fact-based saga revolves around a team of college whizzes who conspire to count cards at blackjack tables in Las Vegas. The cast includes Kevin Spacey, a professor who coaches the students, and Laurence Fishburne, who plays a casino thug. The movie was directed by Australian filmmaker Robert Luketic ("Legally Blonde").

Columbia Pictures, a unit of Sony Corp, said the opening for the $35 million film exceeded expectations, and it played strongly to old, young, male and female moviegoers.

After two weekends at No. 1, the animated smash "Dr. Seuss' Horton Hears A Who!" slipped to No. 2 with $17.4 million. The 20th Century Fox comedy, featuring the voices of Jim Carrey and Steve Carell, became the first release of 2008 to hit the century mark, with sales of $117.3 million to date. Fox is a unit of News Corp.

New at No. 3 was the spoof "Superhero Movie," with a disappointing $9.5 million. Industry observers had expected an opening in the low- to mid-teen millions. Two months ago, the similarly themed "Meet the Spartans" opened to $18.5 million. "Superhero Movie" was released by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios Inc., and produced by Weinstein Co's Dimension Films banner. Both are privately held. MGM declined comment.

'STOP-LOSS' MISFIRES

Prolific filmmaker Tyler Perry's latest comedy "Meet the Browns" tumbled two places to No. 4 with $7.8 million, 61 percent lower than its opening weekend haul. Its total stands at $32.8 million. The film was released by Lionsgate, a unit of Lions Gate Entertainment Corp.

The Owen Wilson comedy "Drillbit Taylor" fell one place to No. 5 with $5.3 million, also in its second weekend. Its drop was 49 percent, and its total rose to $20.6 million. The film was released by Paramount Pictures, a unit of Viacom Inc.   Continued...

 
<p>The cast of "21", Laurence Fishburne (L), Kate Bosworth (C) and Jim Sturgess, pose in a pressroom before the 2008 ShoWest Awards ceremony in Las Vegas, Nevada March 13, 2008. he new gambling drama played a winning hand at the weekend box office in North America, earning an estimated $23.7 million in its first round, distributor Columbia Pictures said on Sunday. REUTERS/Steve Marcus</p>