'Tropic Thunder' Reigns Again With $16.1 Million Weekend

The action comedy “Tropic Thunder” weathered a rush of new movies to remain No. 1 for a second-straight weekend with $16.1 million, according to studio estimates Sunday.

The Paramount-DreamWorks release, which stars Ben Stiller, Robert Downey Jr. and Jack Black as actors caught up in real battle while shooting a war movie, raised its 12-day total to $65.7 million.

“Tropic Thunder” came in just ahead of Sony’s campus comedy “The House Bunny,” which debuted in second-place with $15.1 million. “The House Bunny” stars Anna Faris as an ostracized Playboy bunny who becomes den mother to a sorority of campus misfits.

Universal’s “Death Race” — an update of 1975’s “Death Race 2000,” with Jason Statham starring as a driver in a kill-or-be-killed auto race of the future — opened at No. 3 with $12.3 million.

The weekend’s other new wide releases, Ice Cube’s sports drama “The Longshots” and Rainn Wilson’s music comedy “The Rocker,” opened weakly.

“The Longshots” — an MGM-Weinstein Co. release starring Ice Cube as a former high school star coaching his niece, the first girl to play Pop Warner football — came in at No. 8 with $4.3 million.

20th Century Fox’s “The Rocker,” starring Wilson as an over-the-hill heavy-metal drummer who gets a chance at stardom with a high school band, took in $2.8 million to finish at No. 12.

After all the blockbuster weekends, late summer was proving the usual dumping ground for modest movies as business slowed and audiences eased into back-to-school mode.

That opened the door for “Tropic Thunder” to repeat as the
weekend’s box-office leader.

“There isn’t that divide where there’s a couple of huge movies coming every week,” said DreamWorks spokesman Chip Sullivan.

Summer’s biggest hit, “The Dark Knight,” continued its climb up the box-office charts, placing fourth with $10.3 million. The Warner Bros. Batman sequel has taken in $489.2 million on its way to becoming the second film ever to top $500 million, after “Titanic” ($600.8 million).

Overall movie revenues of $3.9 billion are slightly ahead of last summer’s record pace. But higher admission prices mean the actual number of tickets sold is down about 3 percent compared to summer 2007, according to box-office tracker Media By Numbers.

Still, Hollywood should finish with a new box-office record and a second-straight summer topping the $4 billion mark.

“Thank you, `Dark Knight.’ That’s added close to half a billion
dollars,” said Paul Dergarabedian, president of Media By Numbers. “One film like `The Dark Knight’ can make a huge difference.”

In limited release, Focus Features’ comedy “Hamlet 2” pulled
in $435,000. Starring Steve Coogan as a high school drama teacher staging a campy, irreverent musical sequel to Shakespeare’s play, “Hamlet 2” expands into nationwide release Wednesday.

Estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday at U.S. and Canadian theaters, according to Media By Numbers LLC. Final figures will be released Monday.

1. “Tropic Thunder,” $16.1 million.
2. “The House Bunny,” $15.1 million.
3. “Death Race,” $12.3 million.
4. “The Dark Knight,” $10.3 million.
5. “Star Wars: The Clone Wars,” $5.7 million.
6. “Pineapple Express,” $5.6 million.
7. “Mirrors,” $4.9 million.
8. “The Longshots,” $4.304 million.
9. “Mamma Mia!”, $4.303 million.
10. “The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor,” $4.1 million.

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