Moviegoers ready for romance, snub Oscar pictures

Sun Feb 8, 2009 3:58pm EST
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LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - "He's Just Not That Into You," a comedy featuring Jennifer Aniston and Drew Barrymore, romanced the North American box office on Sunday, as overall ticket sales defied the recessionary gloom.

The new champ earned $27.5 million during the three days beginning on Friday, with women accounting for 80 percent of the audience, said its distributor, Warner Bros. Pictures.

The movie -- based on a book that was itself inspired by the TV show "Sex and the City" -- revolves around the lives and loves of various couples. Despite the A-list lineup -- which also included Ben Affleck and Scarlett Johannson -- critics largely disapproved.

Its success marks an early birthday present for former "Friends" star Aniston, who turns 40 on Wednesday and is still riding high with her recent box office champ "Marley & Me."

Warner Bros., a unit of Time Warner Inc, was confident the film would hold up well next weekend, when business will be boosted by Valentine's Day on Saturday.

Three other pictures opened in the top 10. The biggest disappointment was Steve Martin's "The Pink Panther 2," which came in at No. 4 with $12 million. The first film in Columbia Pictures' revived comedy franchise opened with $20 million in 2006 and ended up with $82 million. Despite the sequel's performance, Columbia's worldwide distribution president Rory Bruer said he "wouldn't bet against" a third film going into production.


Also new were Focus Features' stop-motion animated entry "Coraline" at No. 3 with $16.3 million and Summit Entertainment's sci-fi thriller "Push" at No. 6 with $10.2 million. Both did better than expected, and both feature 14-year-old actress Dakota Fanning.

Last weekend's No. 1 film, 20th Century Fox's Liam Neeson crime thriller "Taken," slipped to No. 2 with $20.3 million; its 10-day total rose to $53.4 million.   Continued...

<p>Cast member Jennifer Aniston smiles at the premiere of the movie "He's Just Not That Into You" at the Grauman's Chinese theatre in Hollywood, California February 2, 2009. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni</p>