Hey, guess what? We can all start calling Judd Apatow a comedy genius again!
Certainly, the guy deserves some credit for his latest production, Universal's rather novel comedic effort "Bridesmaids," which blew the garters off its pre-release estimates with a $24.4 million opening this weekend, according to studio tallies.
That's damned good, considering Universal would only venture to predict a "low teens" start for the $32.5 million R-rated chick comedy, which was co-produced along with Relativity.
Most outside tracking guidance had the film in the $16 million-$18 million range.
Directed by Paul Feig, the ensemble film plies a tried-and-true Apatow story basis — the loveable young-adult underachiever searches for redemption and maturity while staring at the abyss of loserdome, but must first bottom out before finding any of it.
In the case of the well-reviewed "Bridesmaids" — which scored a 90 percent on Rotten Tomatoes but only a B-plus Cinemascore from moviegoers — the protagonist is a woman, "Saturday Night Live's" Kristen Wiig. And all of her foul-mouthed friends, for the most part, are women, too.
There haven't been too many movies like this.
"It was a bet we took," said Universal domestic distribution president Nikki Rocco. "Kristen Wiig is an up-and-comer, but there are no superstars in this film, and it's all conceptual. There are no comparable models for this."
Only one other film opened widely this weekend, with Sony's 3D action-horror film "Priest" hitting soft pre-release estimates with a $14.5 million opening.
With $25.6 million in international revenue so far, Sony officials believe they'll make back their $60 million production spend plus promotional costs.
Here's how the top 10 finished this weekend. Full report continues below chart:
Overall, the domestic box office was off about 6 percent from the same weekend in 2010, which was led by the weekend No. 2 performance of "Iron Man 2."
As expected, Marvel's Paramount-distributed action film "Thor" won the frame with a second-weekend performance of about $32.2 million, a drop of about 50 percent.
"Thor" — which Paramount insists was made for $150 million — also surpassed the $200 million international mark this weekend, adding $27.5 million playing at 11,861 locations across 60 territories. It's international total stands at $225 million.
In third place in its third weekend, Universal's "Fast Five" grossed $19.5 million, upping its domestic total to $168.8 million. "Fast Five" also grossed $58 million playing at 8,800 foreign dates in 61 territories over the weekend, upping its international total to $271.7 million.
The film, which has been in the global market for 25 days, is now the top-grossing movie in a "Fast and Furious" franchise that spans a decade and five titles in all.
Fox's "Rio" kept rolling along, too, grossing $8 million in its fifth weekend. It now has $125 million domestically.
Also continuing to hold strong in the top 10 after six weekends of release: the FilmDistrict-produced, Sony-distributed youth drama "Soul Surfer," which added another $1.8 million to a domestic total that's now reached $39.2 million. The film was made for under $20 million.
Meanwhile, among limited openings, Roadside Attraction's Will Ferrell dramedy "Everything Must Go" opened solidly, grossing $740,000 at 218 locations.
The Joseph Gordon-Levitt-led Sundance flameout "Hesher" opened softly at 40 locations, grossing just $115,000.
And expanding to 105 houses, Mel Gibson film "The Beaver" continued to bomb, grossing just $158,000 at 105 locations.