June 14, 2009 / 4:05 PM / 10 years ago

"Hangover" gives Murphy a headache at box office

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - The party kept rocking for “The Hangover,” the first big surprise hit at the North American box office this summer, while Eddie Murphy suffered a headache with his second consecutive flop.

Cast members (L-R) Sasha Barrese, Ed Helms, Justin Bartha, director Todd Phillips, Heather Graham, Bradley Cooper, Ken Jeong and Rachael Harris, pose together at the Los Angeles premiere of the film "The Hangover" at the Grauman's Chinese theatre in Hollywood, California, June 2, 2009. REUTERS/Danny Moloshok

According to studio estimates issued on Sunday, “The Hangover” led the field for a second weekend with ticket sales of $33.4 million across the United States and Canada. The raunchy comedy with a little-known cast becomes the first movie to retain its crown since “Madea Goes to Jail” in February.

The film also took just 10 days to hit the century mark — $105.4 million, to be exact — setting a new record for an R-rated movie. The old mark of 11 days was set last year by “Sex and the City.”

Industry pundits expect “The Hangover” to hit $200 million — not bad for a movie that cost a reported $31 million to make. The action revolves around three guys struggling to remember what happened at a wild bachelor party in Las Vegas the night before. It stars Justin Bartha, Bradley Cooper and Ed Helms, and was directed by Todd Phillips of “Old School” fame.

The film, from Time Warner Inc’s Warner Bros. Pictures, easily fended off a pair of new entries boasting some major star power.

Columbia Pictures’ remake of the 1974 subway-hijacking thriller “The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3,” starring Denzel Washington and John Travolta, opened at No. 3 with $25 million, in line with expectations.

“It’s a solid opening for us,” said Rory Bruer, president of worldwide distribution at the Sony Corp unit.

Washington’s last major release was “American Gangster,” which opened to $44 million in late 2007. The last time Travolta headlined a drama was in 2004 when “Ladder 49” opened to $26 million. Comparative data are not adjusted for ticket-price inflation.

Murphy, on the other hand, came in at No. 6 this weekend with the Paramount Pictures family comedy “Imagine That,” which tallied just $5.7 million.

“We’re really disappointed,” said Don Harris, executive vice-president of distribution at the Viacom Inc unit.

Murphy previously starred in “Meet Dave,” which opened to $5 million last July and finished with $12 million.

Walt Disney Pictures’ Pixar cartoon “Up” held at No. 2 with $30.5 million, taking its total to $187.2 million after three weekends. The previous Pixar release, “Wall-E,” had earned $163 million in the same span last summer.

Rounding out the top five were the Ben Stiller comedy hit sequel “Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian” (Fox) which held steady at No. 4 with $9.6 million in its fourth weekend; and the latest Will Ferrell bomb “Land of the Lost” (Universal), which fell two places to No. 5 with $5.6 million in its second weekend. Their respective totals stand at $143.4 million and $35 million.

Walt Disney Pictures is a unit of Walt Disney Co. 20th Century Fox is a unit of News Corp. Universal Pictures is a unit of General Electric Co’s NBC Universal.

In limited release, the feature debut of David Bowie’s 38-year-son Duncan Jones, opened strongly. “Moon,” starring Sam Rockwell as an astronaut who confronts a clone of himself while mining lunar helium, earned $145,000 from just eight theaters in New York and Los Angeles. The Sony Pictures Classics release expands across the United States throughout June and July.

At the foreign box office, “Terminator Salvation” was the top pick for a second weekend, earning $46.1 million; the overseas total for the Columbia-distributed apocalypse sequel rose to $165.5 million.

Reporting by Dean Goodman; Editing by Eric Walsh

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