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Well, we have quite a number of stories to report this weekend and I guess the biggest one is the surprisingly strong showing of The Hangover, which exceeded expectations and just about toppled Up from first place this weekend.

In fact, on Friday night The Hangover did topple Up, with a $16.5 million haul. Up came back the rest of the weekend, though, and the result is a photo finish at the box office. The weekend estimates are below:

1 The Hangover WB $45,000,000*
2 Up BV $44,244,000*
3 Land of the Lost Uni. $19,524,000
4 Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian Fox $14,650,000
5 Star Trek Par. $8,400,000
6 Terminator Salvation WB $8,175,000
7 Drag Me to Hell Uni. $7,342,000
8 Angels & Demons Sony $6,500,000
9 My Life in Ruins FoxS $3,225,000
10 Dance Flick Par. $2,000,000

*As of Monday, actuals are in for The Hangover that beat out Up by only a few hundred thousand.

Per theater, The Hangover also finished ahead of Up $13,238 to $11,588. I guess a lot of people were hungry for some good R-rated entertainment during this PG-13 summer.

As for Up, it came in ahead of expectations at $44 million, losing only 35 percent from last week to this week.

As for Land of the Lost, I was hoping not to say anything about it this weekend, because I know whatever I say about it would tick off the Will Ferrell fans out there no matter how well or how badly it did. Unfortunately it crashed and burned, so I am pretty much compelled to say a few words about it, even though I don’t want to.

The reason I don’t want to talk about it is because I am sure there are people who are going to look at $19 million for Land of the Lost and argue “hey, that’s pretty good.” In fact, this was one of the worse openings of Ferrell’s career, certainly in recent years. Heck, even Bewitched opened to more money than this. And the showing was definitely worse than what even the more pessimistic people were predicting for Land of the Lost. You Will Ferrell fans and apologists need to face reality and admit that this movie is a FLOP. Deal with it, America.

I think a few things sunk Land of the Lost. (1) Word spread fast that it was a lousy piece of junk. (2) The movie seemed aimed at a family audience, yet the PG-13 rating just killed it. I’m sure a lot of families were repelled by the rating and subject matter, and decided to see Up instead. (3) I think a lot of the traditional audience for the kind of stuff Will Ferrell normally puts out went to see The Hangover instead. That goes to show that it’s the material, not the star, that reels them in in the end.

There are probably more reasons. I could go on all day.

In my opinion, Ferrell needs to quit attempting the family-movie (or in this case, quasi-family movie) direction immediately, and go back to the type of stuff that made him so big to begin with — you know, Ricky Bobby, Step Brothers and that sort of thing. I’ve said it before and I will say it again: going the Steve Martin route with your movie career is no way to go.

By the way, I hate to be the bearer of more bad news but the overall box office was down 6 percent from the same weekend last year, when Kung Fu Panda and You Don’t Mess with the Zohan were cleaning up. This is in spite of the good news from the top two movies at the box office this weekend. In fact, this is two weekends in a row that the overall box office is down.

Expect to see a lot of stories in the coming days in the trades about Hollywood executives worrying about the box office, even though there are still some heavy-hitters left on the summer horizon. It’s typical — at the first sign of bad news, people in Hollywood panic.

That’s all for now. Back later this week with previews of the box office for Imagine That and The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3. See you then.


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