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‘Monster-in-Law’ gets a cheery reception

Times Staff Writer

Business at the nation’s theaters perked up as “Monster-in-Law” struck a chord with audiences over the weekend, opening at No. 1 with an estimated $24 million, New Line Cinema reported Sunday.

Bolstered by a solid showing of $20.9 million for the Will Ferrell soccer-dad comedy “Kicking & Screaming,” the weekend tally for all movies was up 18% over last weekend, according to box office tracking firm Nielsen EDI Inc.

The uptick was not enough, however, to break a streak of weekends that have been lower than the comparable 2004 dates. The slump now has stretched to 12 weekends. Year to date, box office of about $2.7 billion is down 7% compared with the $2.9 billion accumulated by the same time last year, EDI reported. Observers have noted that last year’s business was distorted by the phenomenal performance of the February release “The Passion of the Christ.”

“Monster-in-Law,” which pits Jennifer Lopez as a bride-to-be against Jane Fonda as a self-absorbed, conniving mother of the groom determined to prevent the marriage, attracted a crowd that predictably skewed female, New Line reported, but overall roughly evenly divided between moviegoers older and younger than 30.

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“Friday night was overwhelmingly younger females,” said Russell Schwartz, president of marketing for New Line.

Although Schwartz said demographic information to be gleaned from exit surveys was incomplete, the Friday audience was about 60% female. “It evened out to about 50-50 on Saturday, so it became more of a date movie,” Schwartz suggested.

The audience for “Kicking & Screaming” was dominated by parents and kids, who accounted for about 60% of moviegoers tallied in exit surveys, Universal Pictures reported. Children 12 and under made up about 36% of the audience, 24% were between ages 13 and 24, and parents 25 and older accounted for about 24%, with nonparents in the same age group at about 16%.

Kids 12 and under were nearly evenly divided between boys (49%) and girls (51%). There was more disparity among those 13 and older, about 57% of whom were female and 43% male.

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“Crash,” writer-director Paul Haggis’ look at alienated Angelenos, in its second weekend posted the strongest hold among the top 10, dropping about 20% to $7.2 million in fifth place, Lions Gate Films reported. Its 10-day total is $19.8 million. Fox’s expensive adventure “Kingdom of Heaven” dropped a precipitous 51% with about $9.6 million in fourth place and $35.1 million to date.

“Unleashed,” the Jet Li action movie from Louis Leterrier, who also directed “The Transporter,” opened in third place with an estimated $10.6 million, Focus Features reported. The thriller “Mindhunters” grossed about $2 million.

Among films in limited release, the British crime drama “Layer Cake” grossed about $83,000 in 10 locations, Sony Pictures Classics reported. The documentary about New York kids learning competitive ballroom dancing, “Mad Hot Ballroom,” opened in two New York theaters with about $45,000, Paramount Classics said. It opens Friday at three theaters in the Los Angeles area.

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(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX)

Box Office

Preliminary results (in millions) based on studio projections.

*--* Movie 3-day gross Total Monster-in- Law $24.0 $24.0

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Kicking & Screaming 20.9 20.9

Unleashed 10.6 10.6

Kingdom of Heaven 9.6 35.1

Crash 7.2 19.8

House of Wax 6.3 21.6

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy 4.8 43.3

The Interpreter 4.4 61.0

XXX: State of the Union 2.2 24.4

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Mindhunters 2.0 2.0

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Source: Nielsen EDI Inc.

Los Angeles Times


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