Heartthrob Zac Efron tops box office
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - "High School Musical" heartthrob Zac Efron graduated to the big leagues at the North American box office on Sunday as his new comedy crushed a weighty thriller starring Russell Crowe.
"17 Again," in which Efron plays a dispirited 37-year-old family man who gets to relive his glory days at high school, earned a better-than-expected $24.1 million, distributor Warner Bros. said.
Crowe's "State of Play" opened at No. 2 with $14.1 million, but managed to exceed the modest expectations of its distributor, Universal Pictures.
Last weekend's champion, "Hannah Montana: The Movie," fell to No. 4 with $12.7 million, taking the 10-day haul for Walt Disney Co's Miley Cyrus vehicle to $56.1 million.
Just ahead of it, the family cartoon "Monsters vs. Aliens" held steady at No. 3 with $12.9 million. After four weekends, the DreamWorks Animation SKG Inc production has earned $162.7 million, making it the biggest movie of the year so far.
Also new was "Crank: High Voltage," a sequel starring British actor Jason Statham. It opened at No. 6 with $6.5 million. Pundits had expected the thriller to do better than "State of Play."
While "17 Again" is the latest in a long line of body-switch comedies including such hits as "Big" and "Freaky Friday," its producers had their cake and ate it too by poking fun at the genre.
"I don't think we tried to play the earnest version," said producer Jennifer Gibgot, who originated the project after working with Efron in "Hairspray."
Critics were generally kind to the picture, which also stars "Friends" veteran Matthew Perry as the adult version of Efron, and Leslie Mann as his wife. Continued...