Los Angeles Two guys named Chuck and Larry edged out a teenager named Harry at the weekend box office.
Adam Sandler and Kevin James' comedy "I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry" overcame bad reviews to debut ahead of "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix," according to studio estimates Sunday. But they were close enough that there was a slight chance rankings could change when final weekend figures come out today.
Universal reported that "Chuck & Larry" took in $34.8 million, while Warner Bros. reported "Order of the Phoenix" at $32.2 million. Other studios were tracking "Chuck & Larry" in the $33 million range, which could make the No. 1 movie too close to call.
New Line's musical "Hairspray," featuring John Travolta, Michelle Pfeiffer and Queen Latifah in an adaptation of the Broadway smash, opened a strong No. 3 with $27.8 million.
Hollywood had a solid weekend no matter which movie ends up No. 1. The top 12 movies took in $147.6 million, up 3.5 percent from the same weekend last year, when "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest" was No. 1 with $35.2 million.
"Chuck & Larry" stars Sandler as a firefighter who poses as a gay partner for a widower colleague (James) so his pal can maintain life insurance for his kids.
The movie followed the usual pattern for Sandler comedies: Critics trashed it but loyal fans turned up.
"The beauty of Adam Sandler is his fan base adores him, and he delivers on comedy," Universal head of distribution Nikki Rocco said. "Adam is a star, and I can tell you we know we're on the way with another $100 million movie for Adam."
"Order of the Phoenix," which debuted at No. 1 the previous weekend, raised its domestic total to $207.5 million.
Fellman said the movie lost some business this weekend because of the mania over Saturday's publication of J.K. Rowling's final book in the fantasy series, "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows."
"They wanted to get that book Saturday, lock themselves in the house and read it, because they didn't want their other friends by Monday telling them who made it and who didn't," said Fellman of Warner Bros.
"Hairspray" follows the musical adventures of a tubby teen (newcomer Nikki Blonsky) who sets out to racially integrate a TV dance show in the 1960s. The stage musical on which it is based was in turn adapted from John Waters' 1988 cult flick.
In limited release, Fox Searchlight's sci-fi tale "Sunshine" opened to big numbers, pulling in $235,477 in 10 theaters. Directed by Danny Boyle ("Trainspotting," "28 Days Later"), the film stars Cillian Murphy and Michelle Yeoh as members of a space crew trying to re-ignite the dying sun 50 years from now.
"Sunshine" expands to about 400 theaters Friday.
Estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday at U.S. and Canadian theaters, according to Media By Numbers LLC:
1. "I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry," $34.8 million.
2. "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix," $32.2 million.
3. "Hairspray," $27.8 million.
4. "Transformers," $20.5 million.
5. "Ratatouille," $11 million.
6. "Live Free or Die Hard," $7.3 million.
7. "License to Wed," $3.8 million.
8. "1408," $2.6 million.
9. "Evan Almighty," $2.5 million.
10. "Knocked Up," $2.3 million.