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LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - "Date Night," a romantic comedy starring sitcom staples Steve Carell and Tina Fey, narrowly claimed an early lead at the weekend box office in North America, according to preliminary sales data issued on Saturday.
The 20th Century Fox film earned $9.3 million during its first day of release across the United States and Canada on Friday, just ahead of last weekend's champion "Clash of the Titans" with $8.4 million, said tracking firm Box Office Mojo.
The studios will issue estimates for the three-day period on Sunday morning, and Warner Bros.' "Clash of the Titans" could well repeat at No. 1 if male youngsters outnumber the couples targeted by "Date Night." Both are on track to earn in the mid-$20 million range for the weekend.
"Date Night" stars Carell ("The Office") and Fey ("30 Rock") as a suburban couple pursued by crooks in a case of mistaken identity. The film was directed by Shawn Levy ("Night at the Museum") and generally liked by critics.
"Clash of the Titans," the latest action film to jump on the lucrative 3D bandwagon in the wake of the success of "Avatar," has earned $92 million after its first eight days. Friday sales slid a hefty 68 percent from opening day, in line with expectations for the epic.
Rounding out the top five were former champion "How to Train Your Dragon" with $7.1 million in its third weekend of release; and the Miley Cyrus drama "The Last Song" ($3.6 million), and filmmaker Tyler Perry's sequel "Why Did I Get Married Too?" ($3.5 million), both in their second weekends.
20th Century Fox is a unit of News Corp, and Warner Bros. is a unit of Time Warner Inc.
"How to Train Your Dragon" was produced by DreamWorks Animation SKG Inc and released by Paramount Pictures, a unit of Viacom Inc. "The Last Song" was released by Walt Disney Pictures, a unit of Walt Disney Co. "Why Did I Get Married Too?" was released by Lionsgate, a unit of Lions Gate Entertainment Corp.
Reporting by Dean Goodman; Editing by Peter Cooney