Even with rave reviews, 'Cinderella Man' was fourth.
By DANIEL FIENBERG
LOS ANGELES -- There's a new ruler at the domestic box office.
Despite seeing its cumulative gross rise over $300 million in the United States and Canada, "Star Wars: Episode III -- Revenge of the Sith" fell to third place for the period ending Sunday. In its third weekend, George Lucas' space epic fell behind both "Madagascar" and "The Longest Yard," according to Exhibitor Relations.
DreamWorks Animation's comedy claimed the top spot, earned $28.7 million, taking in $6,929 per screen in its second weekend. "Madagascar" also passed the $100 million mark, as its cumulative total is up to $101 million. Also close to reaching blockbuster heights is Paramount's prison football remake, as the Adam Sandler comedy is hovering at $95.8 million after a $26.1 million second weekend (and a robust per-screen-average of $7,182, the best of any film in the Top 12). If early estimates hold, the Top Two films were off 39 percent and 45 percent from last weekend.
"Revenge of the Sith" was in a photo finish for second, doing $26 million (down 53 percent) and bringing its cumulative gross to $308 million.
The strength of those three returning films helped eat into the audience for a trio of new releases, none of which were able to break out.
Even with rave reviews and the reteaming of director Ron Howard and star Russell Crowe, Universal's "Cinderella Man" came in at No. 4 with an $18.6 million gross, below most industry estimates. Crowe's last star vehicle, "Master & amp; Commander: The Far Side of the World" opened in November 2003 to a $25 million weekend.
The Depression-era boxing drama was an improvement over the $10.8 million premiere for "The Missing," Howard's last film, though "Cinderella Man" ranks below "Apollo 13," "Ransom" and "How the Grinch Stole Christmas" among the director's best debuts. "Cinderella Man" averaged $6,615 per screen. If word-of-mouth is as positive as it appears to be, though, "Cinderella Man" may have legs.
After a Wednesday premiere, "The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants" delivered $10.2 million for the weekend, taking fifth place and bringing its total box office to just under $14 million. Despite being hailed as the weekend's possible sleeper hit, the skateboarding drama "Lords of Dogtown" could only muster a sixth-place finish with a $5.7 million gross.
The rest of the Top 12 was filled with returning entries "Monster-in-Law," "Crash," "Kicking & amp; Screaming," "Unleashed," "The Interpreter" and "Kingdom of Heaven."
Opening in limited release, Picturehouse's "Rock School" hit a flat note, making only $28,300 in 32 locations.
Overall, the Top 12 films at the box office took in $128 million, down by nearly 28 percent over the previous weekend's holiday-aided $178 million and down nearly 30 percent from the $183 million raked in last year when "Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban" did a whopping $93.7 million. This marks the 15th consecutive weekend that the box office has been down over the corresponding period last year.
A number of new releases will line up Friday in a desperate attempt to reverse that trend, led by the action comedy "Mr. & amp; Mrs. Smith," the Robert Rodriguez kiddie flick "The Adventures of Shark Boy & amp; Lava Girl in 3-D" and the big screen adaptation of "The Honeymooners."