‘Super 8’ Opens as Top Film With $37 Million in Ticket Sales

“Super 8,” the science-fiction thriller from Steven Spielberg and J.J. Abrams, was the top film at U.S. and Canadian theaters, debuting with $37 million in ticket sales for Paramount Pictures.

“X-Men: First Class,” News Corp. (NWSA)’s fifth film about mutants with super powers, and starring James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender, dropped to second place from first with $25 million in its second weekend, Hollywood.com Box-Office said in an e- mailed statement.

“Super 8” was expected to generate $32 million in ticket sales, according to the forecast of Box Office Guru editor Gitesh Pandya. The film cost about $50 million, according to researcher Box Office Mojo. Paramount is a unit of New York- based Viacom Inc. (VIA/B) and is leading all studios with receipts so far this year of $726.4 million, according to Box Office Mojo.

The financial performance of “Super 8” will be “determined in the second weekend,” said Brandon Gray, president of Box Office Mojo. “Paramount says the movie will be a word-of-mouth hit, but the opening isn’t strong enough to say it’s a success.”

In “Super 8,” a group of adolescents accidentally uncover a dangerous government project after a train carrying top-secret cargo crashes as they are filming an amateur movie. The special- effects heavy movie stars Joel Courtney and Elle Fanning as two of the young filmmakers whose budding romance is threatened by hostility between their fathers.

Abrams, Spielberg

The film pairs writer and director Abrams, whose credits include “Cloverfield,” with producer Spielberg. The movie has drawn comparison to Spielberg’s early hits including “E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial” and “The Goonies.”

“The Hangover: Part II,” Warner Bros.’ raunchy, R-rated comedy, fell to third from second with $18.5 million in its third weekend. The film, a follow-up to the 2009 hit that tallied $467.5 million for Time Warner Inc. (TWX)’s Warner Bros., has taken in $216.6 million in U.S. and Canadian theaters since its May 26 open.

The R-rated film stars the key actors from the original and follows a similar plot. Three friends, played by Bradley Cooper, Zach Galifianakis and Ed Helms, wake up in a Bangkok hotel room after wild partying with little memory of what transpired the night before.

The animated 3-D feature “Kung Fu Panda 2” dropped to fourth from third with $16.6 million in receipts for Paramount. Jack Black, Angelina Jolie and Gary Oldman provide voices for the main characters. Paramount is distributing the movie for DreamWorks Animation SKG Inc. (DWA)

“Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides,” the fourth film in the Walt Disney Co. (DIS) series, fell to fifth from fourth with sales of $10.8 million.

‘Green Lantern’ Next

The only other film to open this weekend, “Judy Moody and the Not Bummer Summer,” from Relativity Media, was seventh, taking in $6.3 million. The film, based on characters from the children’s books by Megan McDonald, follows a young girl as she tries to salvage a summer spent in the care of an aunt. The film stars Jordana Beatty as Judy and Heather Graham as Aunt Opal.

Films opening next weekend include Warner Bros.’ “Green Lantern,” starring Ryan Reynolds as the superhero from the D.C. Comics series, and the Jim Carrey comedy “Mr. Popper’s Penguins” from Fox.

“‘Green Lantern” should certainly be No. 1,” Gray said. “It has had an enormous marketing presence.”

Sales of the weekend’s top 12 films fell 5.9 percent to $136.2 million from a year earlier, according to Hollywood.com. Sales for the year to date, $4.43 billion, are 6.9 percent lower than last year at this time. Attendance is down 8.3 percent.

The amounts below are based on actual ticket sales for June 10 and 11 and estimates for today. The percentage change column represents three-day sales versus the previous week.

                       Rev.            Avg./   Pct.   Total
Movie                 (mln)  Theaters  Theater Chg.   (mln)  Wks
================================================================
1 SUPER 8              $37.0   3,379  $10,950   --    $38.0   1
2 X-MEN: FIRST CLASS    25.0   3,692    6,771   -55    98.9   2
3 THE HANGOVER PART II  18.5   3,675    5,034   -41   216.6   3
4 KUNG FU PANDA 2       16.6   3,929    4,234   -30   126.9   3
5 PIRATES OF CARIBBEAN  10.8   3,433    3,159   -40   208.8   4
6 BRIDESMAIDS           10.2   2,922    3,475   -16   123.9   5
7 JUDY MOODY             6.3   2,524    2,483   --      6.3   1
8 MIDNIGHT IN PARIS      6.2     944    6,511   122    14.2   4
9 THOR                   2.4   1,782    1,330   -44   173.6   6
10 FAST FIVE             1.7   1,329    1,290   -46   205.1   7
11 THE TREE OF LIFE      0.875    47   18,620    42     2.4   3
12 RIO                   0.681   527    1,292    -8   137.8   9


Top 12 Films Grosses:
   This Week     Year Ago      Pct.
     (mln)         (mln)       Chg.
===================================
     $136.2        $144.8      -5.9


Year-to-date Revenue:
     2011          2010
      YTD           YTD        Pct.
     (mln)         (mln)       Chg.
===================================
   $4,432.0      $4,761.4     -6.92


Year-to-date Attendance:      -8.3%

To contact the reporters on this story: Michael White in Los Angeles at mwhite8@bloomberg.net; Boris Korby in New York at bkorby1@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Anthony Palazzo at apalazzo@bloomberg.net

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