"Zombieland" top destination at box office

Sun Oct 4, 2009 7:42pm EDT
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LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Woody Harrelson scored the biggest opening of his career at the North American box office, as "Zombieland" stormed theaters with weekend ticket sales of $25 million, according to studio estimates issued on Sunday.

The comedy ended the two-week reign of children's comedy "Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs," which slipped to No. 2 with $16.7 million. Both films were released by Columbia Pictures, a unit of Sony Corp.

Four other new releases entered the top-10. A 3-D reissue of the Pixar cartoons, "Toy Story" and "Toy Story 2," opened at No. 3 with $12.5 million. The release was designed to stoke anticipation of the June 2010 arrival of "Toy Story 3."

British comedian Ricky Gervais' "The Invention of Lying" followed with a modest $7.4 million, slightly ahead of Bruce Willis' "Surrogates," which is in its second weekend. Rankings could change when final data are released on Monday.

Two entries tied at No. 7: Drew Barrymore's directing debut, "Whip It," and documentary filmmaker Michael Moore's "Capitalism: A Love Story" each reported about $4.9 million in ticket sales.

"Capitalism" played in almost twice as many theaters as "Whip It," which had been expected to open in the high-single-digit millions ahead of the Gervais comedy.

"Zombieland," bolstered by strong reviews and advance buzz, matched its modest production budget.

Harrelson, who rose to fame in the sitcom "Cheers," stars as a gung-ho zombie killer who joins an obsessive-compulsive nerd, played by Jesse Eisenberg, during a worldwide zombie epidemic. It marks the debut of director Ruben Fleischer.

"It's an action-driven road-trip buddy comedy, and the icing on the cake is that it's got zombies in it," said Rory Bruer, Columbia's president of worldwide distribution.   Continued...

<p>Cast member Jesse Eisenberg attends the premiere of the film "Zombieland" in Los Angeles September 23, 2009. REUTERS/Phil McCarten</p>