'Forbidden Kingdom' gives boost to weekend box-office receipts
A saga pairing the two most popular martial arts stars in the world led an upswing at this weekend's box office.
"The Forbidden Kingdom" from Lions Gate Entertainment brought in nearly $21 million during its opening weekend, according to estimates from boxofficemojo.com. The film brings together top Hong Kong action stars Jet Li and Jackie Chan for their first pairing in a feature film.
Another debut, the edgy romantic comedy "Forgetting Sarah Marshall" from the Universal Studios arm of General Electric, brought in about $17.3 million over the weekend.
Those two films helped drive the total weekend box-office receipts to a little over $82 million for the top 12 films. That represents an increase of 1.6 percent from the same weekend last year, according to estimates.
The gains were seen as welcome news for what has so far been a weak year for movies.
So far in 2008, opening weekend grosses have average about 2.8 percent below those tallied for the same period last year, according to data from Boxofficemojo.
"There is a collective sigh of relief in Hollywood," Paul Dergarabedian, president of box office tracker Media By Numbers, told the Associated Press. "This is overdue and much needed as we head toward the beginning of the summer season."
Not all debuts enjoyed a strong weekend. The thriller "88 Minutes" - from Sony Corp's (SNE) studio arm staring Al Pacino - flopped, earning less than $7 million during the weekend.
Last weekend's leader, "Prom Night" fell 56 percent to take in $9.1 million.
The computer-animated version of "Dr. Seuss' Horton Hears a Who" from News Corp.'s Fox took in $3.5 million over the weekend, cementing its lead as the year's top grosser with more than $144 million in box-office receipts so far.