'Heartbreaker' at Box Office, 'Game Plan' Still on Top

There's something about a reunion of Ben Stiller and the Farrelly brothers that audiences didn't want to see.

Stiller and the Farrellys' "The Heartbreak Kid" pulled in a modest $14 million during opening weekend, coming in at No. 2 behind "The Game Plan," which remained the top flick for the second-straight weekend with $16.3 million, according to studio estimates Sunday.

Paramount and DreamWorks had expected more from "The Heartbreak Kid," which reteamed Stiller with Peter and Bobby Farrelly. The trio collaborated on 1998's smash "There's Something About Mary."

The studios had gotten positive reaction from audiences at advance screenings, but reviews for "The Heartbreak Kid" came in much harsher than expected, said DreamWorks spokesman Chip Sullivan.

"We were surprised," Sullivan said. "The reviews hurt us. We love the movie. We've seen it play great. But I think reviews do matter on an R-rated movie."

An update of the 1972 comedy written by Neil Simon and directed by Elaine May, "The Heartbreak Kid" stars Stiller as a man who marries an incompatible bride, then meets the perfect woman on his honeymoon.

"The Heartbreak Kid" did manage to come in slightly ahead of the $13.7 million first weekend of "There's Something About Mary," which lingered in theaters for months and became one of 1998's top hits at $176.5 million.

Movies hung around longer then, but today's films tend to live or die based on their opening weekends, analysts said. That bodes ill for "The Heartbreak Kid," which would need to hold strongly in coming weeks to make good on its $60-million-plus production budget.

"The shelf life of films is so much shorter today than it was 10 years ago," said Paul Dergarabedian, president of box-office tracker Media By Numbers. "You have to make your mark early to sustain yourself in today's marketplace."

"The Heartbreak Kid" also played much wider — 3,229 theaters, about 1,000 more than "There's Something About Mary," which still managed to pack in far more viewers. Based on today's higher ticket prices, "There's Something About Mary" pulled in nearly 3 million people over opening weekend, compared to just over 2 million for "The Heartbreak Kid."

In limited release, George Clooney's acclaimed legal drama "Michael Clayton" opened strongly with $704,000 in 11 theaters, a promising lead-in for the film's nationwide rollout Friday.

Released by Warner Bros., "Michael Clayton" stars Clooney as an attorney at a huge Manhattan law firm dealing with personal financial ruin while trying to salvage a class-action case for a corporate client.

Disney's "The Game Plan," a football family tale starring Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, held up strongly in its second weekend, raising its total to $42.8 million.

Overall revenues were down for the third-straight weekend, with the top-12 movies taking in a meager $65.7 million, off 35 percent from the same weekend last year.

Estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday at U.S. and Canadian theaters, according to Media By Numbers LLC. Final figures will be released Monday.

1. "The Game Plan," $16.3 million.

2. "The Heartbreak Kid," $14 million.

3. "The Kingdom," $9.3 million.

4. "Resident Evil: Extinction," $4.3 million.

5. "The Seeker: The Dark Is Rising," $3.7 million.

6. "Good Luck Chuck," $3.5 million.

7. "Feel the Noise," $3.4 million.

8. "3:10 to Yuma," $3 million.

9. "The Brave One," $2.3 million.

10. "Mr. Woodcock," $2 million.