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'Date Night' is expected to challenge 'Titans' at box office

Ben Fritz
Los Angeles Times (MCT)

LOS ANGELES — "Clash of the Titans" could be toppled on its second weekend by a couple of TV comedy stars out on the town.

"Date Night," which stars Steve Carell of "The Office" and Tina Fey of "30 Rock" as a bored married couple who find more excitement than they were looking for on a night out, opens Friday and should sell $20 million to $25 million worth of tickets in the U.S. and Canada by Sunday, according to people who have seen pre-release audience polling.

That would be a decent start given the movie's $55 million production budget, particularly if audience buzz is strong. Reviews so far have been a bit more positive than negative.

The romantic comedy from 20th Century Fox and financing partner Dune Entertainment is generating solid interest among all demographic groups except young men. Its debut will probably be similar to that of the Matthew McConaughey-Sarah Jessica Parker comedy "Failure to Launch," which opened to $24.4 million in March 2006.

Carell's previous two romantic comedies, "Dan in Real Life" and "The 40-Year-Old Virgin," had very different openings — $11.8 million in 2007 and $21.4 million in 2005, respectively. Fey's "Baby Mama" opened to $17.4 million in 2008.

"Date Night" is the only picture opening nationwide this week.

"Clash of the Titans," meanwhile, could take a big tumble after its healthy $61.2 million debut. The movie's sizable 18 percent drop in ticket sales from last Friday to Saturday and an average audience grade of B both indicate that word-of-mouth was mixed. In addition, more students were out of school on last week's Good Friday holiday than will be this Friday.

As a result, Warner Bros.' and Legendary Pictures' "Titans" could easily see its weekend gross drop 60 percent this weekend, which would put it at about $24 million and in close competition with "Date Night" for the top spot at the box office.

DreamWorks Animation's "How to Train Your Dragon" will probably be a close third at about $20 million if it experiences another modest decline after falling just 34 percent on its second weekend.

"Why Did I Get Married Too" had virtually the same gross as "Dragon" last weekend but will probably fall more than 50 percent from its strong $29 million debut. Other recent films from writer/director Tyler Perry have dropped about 60 percent on their second weekends as their audiences didn't grow significantly beyond the core fans who came within the first few days.

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