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LOS ANGELES — It wasn’t a good first day or night at the box office for “Knight and Day.”


The action comedy starring Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz sold a soft $3.8 million worth of tickets in the United States and Canada as it opened Wednesday, positioning the picture for what looks to be a short and unimpressive run in theaters. The debut doesn’t even rank among the top 50 Wednesday openings of all time, despite much higher ticket prices now than in years past, according to Box Office Mojo.


“Knight and Day” was actually a distant second at the box office on Wednesday, behind “Toy Story 3,” which took in $13 million, according to Hollywood.com.


Pre-release polling had indicated that audiences weren’t excited about seeing “Knight and Day” and the opening day box office results verified that. Based on Wednesday’s receipts, the spy caper will struggle to gross even the $25 million by Sunday that people who had seen the polling previously estimated.


In order to counteract what appears to have been ineffective marketing and a lack of interest among audiences in Cruise and Diaz, distributor 20th Century Fox held nationwide sneak previews for “Knight and Day” on Saturday and moved up its release from Friday to Wednesday. They were betting that word-of-mouth would benefit the picture, which has received mixed reviews.


Fox and its financing partners New Regency Pictures and Dune Entertainment spent $117 million to produce “Knight and Day” and tens of millions more on marketing. They therefore need the movie to perform significantly better overseas to avoid taking a loss on much of that investment.

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