LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Maxwell Smart clobbered Mike Myers with his shoe phone at the weekend box office in North America.
"Get Smart," a remake of the classic television spy spoof, sold an estimated $39.2 million worth of tickets during its first three days, distributor Warner Bros. Pictures said on Sunday.
Steve Carell, of TV's "The Office," stars as Maxwell Smart, the ineptly clever secret agent originated by Don Adams. Anne Hathaway fills in for Barbara Feldon as his smart sidekick, Agent 99.
Warner Bros. had been hoping for an opening in the $30 million to $35 million range, said Dan Fellman, president of domestic theatrical distribution at the Time Warner Inc-owned studio. It shared the $80 million tab with Australia's Village Roadshow Ltd.
Myers' "The Love Guru," meanwhile, opened at No. 4 with just $14 million, said Paramount Pictures, falling far short of the $20 million range forecast by Hollywood pundits.
The Canadian actor, making his first on-screen appearance since the 2003 bomb "The Cat in the Hat," plays a Deepak Chopra-style New Age guru prone to joking about bodily functions. Paramount, a unit of Viacom Inc, split the $60 million cost with independent producer Spyglass Entertainment.
The studios' decision to stake out the same weekend for their competing comedies surprised many observers, who predicted they would end up cannibalizing each other. That turned out not to be the case.
"The competition came from holdovers," said Warner Bros.' Fellman.
He was confident that "Get Smart" would hold up well over the coming weeks because "it's the only comedy in the marketplace at the moment that appeals to all four quadrants (i.e. young and old men and women)."
No official at Paramount was available to comment publicly on "The Love Guru."
Critics were mixed on "Get Smart" and appalled by "The Love Guru." The Wall Street Journal said "Get Smart" generated about two forgettable laughs, but was "Citizen Kane" compared to "The Love Guru." TV critic Richard Roeper said Myers had produced "one of the worst movies of the year."
The DreamWorks Animation SKG Inc cartoon "Kung Fu Panda" was unchanged at No. 2 with $21.7 million in its third round. The Paramount release has earned $155.6 million to date.
Last weekend's champion, "The Incredible Hulk," was close behind with $21.6 million, off a relatively modest 61 percent from last weekend; its 10-day total rose to $96.5 million. By contrast, its unloved 2003 predecessor "The Hulk" had earned $100.6 million in the same time frame, having slid 70 percent in its second weekend.
"The Incredible Hulk" was produced by Marvel Entertainment Inc and distributed by General Electric Co's Universal Pictures.