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'Funny People' laughs to No. 1 at box office

By Adam B. Vary
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Entertainment Weekly

(Entertainment Weekly) -- It was a glass half-full, glass half-empty kind of weekend at the box office for "Funny People," writer-director Judd Apatow's comedic meditation on fame, humor, life, and death.

Adam Sandler and Seth Rogen star in "Funny People," which took the No. 1 slot at the box office this weekend.

Adam Sandler and Seth Rogen star in "Funny People," which took the No. 1 slot at the box office this weekend.

According to figures from Box Office, it opened at the top spot with an estimated $23.4 million, better than Apatow's The 40 Year-Old Virgin ($21.4 million) -- hence, the glass is half full. But that figure is far lower than the debut for Apatow's "Knocked Up" ($30.7 million), and it's the worst opening for a comedy for star Adam Sander since his 2000 turkey "Little Nicky" -- hence, the glass is half empty.

Of course, "Funny People" was billed more as a thoughtful dramedy than a balls-out Sandler laugh-fest, and when matched against the opening frames for Sandler's serious efforts "Reign Over Me," "Spanglish," and "Punch-Drunk Love," Funny People is far and away the winner -- and the glass is half full again.

But whether it's a comedy, drama, or dramedy, "Funny People's" $75 million budget is quite the handful of pretty pennies, and with a shaky "B-" Cinemascore, the film is going to have a hard time overcoming tepid word-of-mouth -- and we're back to the half-empty glass. So let's just move on, shall we?

The cup of a certain adolescent wizard, meanwhile, definitely runneth over. Thanks to its debut on IMAX (and the premium ticket prices that come with it), "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince" came in second with $17.7 million, a soft 40 percent drop from last weekend for $255.5 million total.

At this rate, the film is well on its way to the upper ranks of the 'Potter' franchise. The guinea pigs of "G-Force" were right on its heels at third place, nibbling up $17.1 million, a decent 46 percent drop for a two-week cume of $66.5 million.

And Katherine Heigl's romcom "The Ugly Truth" took in an additional $13 million, a 53 percent drop for fourth place and $54.5 million total.

Of the two other wide releases this weekend, at least the sci-fi family comedy "Aliens in the Attic" -- which grossed a meager $7.8 million for fifth place -- broke into the top 10. The torture porn flick "The Collector" collected a grisly $3.6 million and plopped dead at 11th place.

Box office on a whole was down a massive 22 percent from last year, when The "Dark Knight" and "The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor" both took in over $40 million, but the specialty market showed some vibrant signs of life. Bone fide indie hit "(500) Days of Summer" expanded to 266 theaters for $2.7 million, a $10,338 per theater average.

And three widely disparate films opened in four theaters each to healthy per theater averages: The quirky romantic comedy "Adam" ($16,566 per theater), the stylish vampire film "Thirst" ($13,793 per theater), and the eco-thriller-cum-documentary "The Cove" ($13,600 per theater).

Finally, a true milestone was reached this weekend by "The Hangover." With $5.1 million this weekend for a running total of $255.8 million, the summer's biggest die hard blockbuster has passed "Star Trek" and (for a brief moment) "Harry Potter 6" as the third highest grossing movie of the year.

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