"Funny People" laughing loudest at box office

Thu Jul 30, 2009 8:39pm EDT
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By Carl DiOrio

LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - It's shaping up as a tale of two genres at the weekend box office in North America.

A trio of studios will be singing "We Are Family" again, but the No. 1 picture is likely to be "Funny People," a new R-rated comedy that extends another recent theatrical trend.

The family-friendly films "G-Force," "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince" and "Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs" nabbed three of the top five spots last weekend, so one might think that the moms-and-kids segment is saturated. But so far this summer, parents have shown boundless enthusiasm for rounding up the tots for a couple hours of air-conditioned diversion.

Fox's family-targeting adventure fantasy "Aliens in the Attic," which opens Friday, mixes computer-animated extraterrestrials into predominantly live-action shenanigans. Originally scheduled for a spring bow, "Aliens" -- then titled "They Came from Upstairs" -- was delayed after the studio decided to tweak its screenplay and visual effects. John Schultz ("The Honeymooners") directed the young ensemble cast.

"It's summertime, and I think there's plenty of interest for a picture like this," Fox distribution president Bruce Snyder said.

Prerelease tracking indicates "Aliens" might do best with boys, opening with $11 million-$13 million through Sunday. That's just below the expected range for the second weekend of Disney's family adventure fantasy "G-Force," which ruled the box office last session, and Warner Bros.' "Half-Blood Prince," whose third frame will be bolstered by an expansion to 160 Imax venues.

But this weekend's box office crown is likely to be worn by a comedy bearing a restricted rating -- like the other two pictures in last weekend's top five, "The Ugly Truth" and "Orphan." Universal's "Funny People" -- a Judd Apatow-directed dramatic comedy starring Adam Sandler, Seth Rogen and Leslie Mann -- appears a lock to open north of $20 million.

How much higher is the subject of much speculation. Industry forecasts have been unusually errant this summer, and "Funny" is considered a picture whose fate is tied to word-of-mouth from its earliest audiences.   Continued...

<p>Adam Sandler poses at the premiere of his new comedy film "Funny People" in Hollywood July 20, 2009. REUTERS/Fred Prouser</p>