By Pau Brunet
Walt Disney Co.’s romantic comedy “The Proposal” debuted as the top film in the U.S. and Canada over the weekend, as star Sandra Bullock’s best-ever opener gave the company its second No. 1 movie in a month.
“The Proposal” had $34.1 million in ticket sales, researcher Hollywood.com Box-Office said yesterday in an e- mailed statement. Time Warner Inc.’s “The Hangover” slipped to second with $26.9 million, while “Up” from Disney’s Pixar Animation Studios had $21.3 million in receipts.
The two Disney movies have brought in a combined $258.2 million since the animated 3-D feature “Up” opened at No. 1 four weeks ago. Bullock is identified with romantic comedies, and “The Proposal” gave audiences exactly what they went for, said Brandon Gray, president of Box Office Mojo in Sherman Oaks, California.
“Sandra is probably an underrated star, because she’s one of the few who can actually draw an audience when she’s in the right movie,” Gray said. “A lot of movies suffer from a lack of clarity or a lack of information in their advertisements, but ‘The Proposal’ was on point and promised a rollicking romantic good time for all.”
In “The Proposal,” Bullock plays an executive who faces deportation to her native Canada. She tries to fool U.S. immigration authorities by having her assistant, played by Ryan Reynolds, pose as her American fiancé. Gitesh Pandya, editor of Box Office Guru LLC, projected the film to earn as much as $22 million in its debut weekend.
The top 12 films this weekend grossed $140.7 million, up 1.64 percent from a year earlier, Hollywood.com said. Ticket sales for all films rose 2.85 percent to $147 million.
“The Hangover,” a comedy about the aftermath of a bachelor party gone awry in Las Vegas, was the top film the two previous weekends. It has taken in $152.9 million since it opened on June 5.
“‘The Hangover’ is like a hangover; it just won’t go away,” Gray said. “It’s one of the great box-office successes of the year.”
“Up” is Disney’s most successful film this year with $224.1 million in receipts since its May 29 release and has helped lift the studio from last place among its Hollywood peers. The movie, featuring the voice of Ed Asner, drew family audiences with its story of an accidental friendship between a young boy and an elderly man who finally achieves his dream of foreign travel.
‘Pelham 1 2 3’
“Year One,” from Sony Corp., debuted in fourth place with $20.2 million. The film stars Jack Black and Michael Cera as hapless hunter-gatherers kicked out of their tribe for violating a taboo. Their wanderings lead to run-ins with Cain and Abel and other Old Testament figures. “Year One” was forecast by Pandya to generate $20 million in sales.
Sony’s “The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3,” starring Denzel Washington and John Travolta, fell to fifth from third with $11.3 million.
Sony Pictures Classic’s “Whatever Works,” by director Woody Allen, took in $280,720 in nine theaters, the best limited-release opener this year, according to Paul Dergarabedian, an analyst at Hollywood.com Box-office. The per- theater average of $31,191 was triple the $11,163 for “The Proposal.” The film will expand into more than 300 theaters on July 3, according to Dergarabedian.
A comedy led box-office sales for a fifth consecutive weekend. That may end next week when Viacom Inc. releases “Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen,” a sequel to 2007’s “Transformers.” Advance sales for the sequel were ahead of the first film by a 3-to-1 margin as of June 17, according to online vendor MovieTickets.com.
The movie, which opens June 24, has the potential to gross more than $200 million in its first seven days, nearing the record $238.6 million set by “The Dark Knight” in July 2008, Gray said.
The original “Transformers,” released in 2007, opened with $70.5 million and took in $708.3 million worldwide, according to Box Office Mojo, which tracks receipts.
The following table has figures provided by studios to Hollywood.com Box-Office. The amounts are based on actual ticket sales for June 19 and June 20, and estimates for yesterday.