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'Roommate's' $15.6M Easily Tops Soft Super Bowl-Weekend Box Office

Low-budget genre film leads a box office that's down 21%; James Cameron 3D movie "Sanctum" in second place with just $9.2M

Sony's crazy-chick thriller "The Roommate" grossed $15.6 million at the box office this weekend, easily topping a domestic market that was soft even by Super Bowl-weekend standards.

Universal and Relativity's James Cameron-produced 3D thriller "Sanctum" came in second place, also meeting very conservative tracking projections with $9.2 million on a weekend in which only one film broke into double figures.

Overall, the domestic box office was down 21 percent from the same NFL championship weekend in 2010. The domestic market is down more than 20 percent for the year.

Here's how the top 10 finished. Full report continues below chart:

Finishing in third place, Paramount's Ashton Kutcher/Natalie Portman romantic comedy "No Strings Attached" is showing some legs, declining only 38 percent in weekend No. 3 while grossing an estimated $8.4 million.

The Weinstein Company's "King's Speech," meanwhile, still has momentum from those 12 Academy Award nominations more than a week back, taking in an estimated $8.3 million for a solid 28 percent week-to-week drop. The film has so far taken in $84 million domestically.

Last weekend's box-office champ, Anthony Hopkins exorcism movie "The Rite," grossed just $5.6 million while declining sharply at 62 percent.

As for "The Roommate," which is a Screen Gems label release, Sony officials peg the production cost at $16 million.

The film stars "Gossip Girl's" Leighton Meester as a kind of 2011 update of the not-that-balanced roommate seeker played by Jennifer Jason Leigh 20 years ago in "Single White Female."

The film's No. 1 status marks the eighth time since 2001 that Sony has won the Super Bowl-weekend box office, a testament to the studio's counterprogramming acumen with femme-skewing movies like "The Wedding Planner," "When a Stranger Calls" and last year's "Dear John" (a breakout hit that premiered to $30.5 million).

"It's probably one of those things that's kind of lucky," said Sony distribution chief Rory Bruer. "It's having the right vehicles relative to the competition."

Interestingly and somewhat unexpectedly, Universal and Relativity find themselves counterprogramming to a largely female audience with the Cameron-produced underwater cave thriller "Sanctum" -- a movie that drew an audience that was 53 percent female on it first weekend.

But audience feedback hasn't been great, with the movie garnering a disappointing C-plus Cinemascore grade.

But "Sanctum's" economics should work out just fine for Universal and Relativity, which paid only $12 million to acquire it.

Cameron's core audience seems to have turned out for the film, with approximately 17 percent of "Sanctum's" gross originating from 178 IMAX digital theaters.

"Certainly, the gross is at the high end of where we thought it would be," noted Universal distribution president Nikki Rocco, who had projected an $8 million overall premeire total for the movie going into the weekend.