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LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - In a major upset at the North American box office, the four cosmo-swilling fashionistas of "Sex and the City" whipped reigning champ Indiana Jones in the film's first day in theaters, according to preliminary estimates issued on Saturday.
The big-screen adaptation of the groundbreaking HBO comedy sold about $26.9 million worth of tickets across the United States and Canada on Friday, distributor Warner Bros. Pictures said.
"Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull" followed with about $12 million, according to tracking firm Box Office Mojo. The film's distributor, Paramount Pictures, declined to comment.
Industry observers had expected the fourth installment of the adventure franchise to win a second consecutive weekend, but "Sex and the City" will clearly be No. 1 when estimates for the Friday-to-Sunday period are released on Sunday.
Warner Bros. domestic distribution president Dan Fellman declined to make a weekend forecast but said the movie made as much in its first day as he had hoped it would make for the three-day period. He said 2006's "The Devil Wears Prada," another movie aimed at women, earned $27.5 million during its first weekend in 2006.
"We're absolutely thrilled with the number," Fellman said. "This is just amazing."
The $60 million film represents a resounding last hurrah for its producer, New Line Cinema. The struggling studio was recently downsized to a division of Warner Bros. by their Time Warner Inc parent after years of losses. It also represents a face-saving release for Warner Bros., which has a spectacular flop on its hands with "Speed Racer."
"Sex and the City" hits the big screen four years after the show ended its six-season run on HBO, also a Time Warner unit. Its four stars, Sarah Jessica Parker, Kim Cattrall, Kristin Davis and Cynthia Nixon, dusted off their high-end fashions to stalk the streets of Manhattan and dissect their romantic travails once again.
Reviews were mixed but the show's female loyalists had been working themselves into a frenzy in anticipation of the film's release, arranging to see the film in big groups. While their fervor was never in doubt, observers had wondered how well the film could do with essentially no male viewers. Warner Bros. will release demographic data on Sunday.
Meanwhile, "Indiana Jones" has earned $183 million since its May 22 release, and will follow "Iron Man" to become the second film of the year to break the $200 million mark when Paramount issues weekend data on Sunday. The Viacom Inc unit partnered on "Indiana Jones" with Lucasfilm, the studio owned by the series' executive producer, George Lucas.
Reporting by Dean Goodman; Editing by Bill Trott