Los Angeles "Baby Mama," Tina Fey and Amy Poehler's comedy about surrogate motherhood, delivered the No. 1 spot at the weekend box office with $18.3 million in ticket sales, according to studio estimates Sunday.
The Universal Pictures laugher starring the "Saturday Night Live" duo crawled past Warner Bros.' "Harold & Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay," the goofy stoner flick that opened at No. 2 with $14.6 million.
With a third comedy, Universal's "Forgetting Sarah Marshall," holding its own at No. 4 with $11 million, audiences looked to be flocking to theaters to get giddy.
"Comedy is definitely king right now," said Paul Dergarabedian, president of tracking firm Media By Numbers LLC. "Audiences are definitely showing an interest in going to the movies and having a good time and having a laugh."
Lionsgate's kung fu movie "The Forbidden Kingdom" starring Jackie Chan and Jet Li fell two notches to No. 3 with $11.2 million.
Critics had questioned Universal's decision to release "Baby Mama" so closely on the heels of "Forgetting Sarah Marshall," thinking it would cannibalize the comedy-seeking public.
"I think there's something to be said about the Hollywood myth that you can't open a comedy against a comedy," said Nikki Rocco, Universal's president of distribution. "We just proved that to be wrong."
The success of the first "Harold & Kumar" sequel also showed audiences are not too sensitive to laugh at post-Sept. 11 topics like terrorism. The movie premise begins with the pair getting in trouble trying to sneak a bong on a flight to Amsterdam, then escaping the U.S.-run prison for alleged terrorists in Cuba.
The sequel cost just $12 million to make and is already close to beating the entire theatrical take of $18.2 million for the first "Harold & Kumar" movie.
Estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday at U.S. and Canadian theaters, according to Media By Numbers LLC. Final figures will be released today.
1. "Baby Mama," $18.3 million.
2. "Harold & Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay," $14.6 million.
3. "The Forbidden Kingdom," $11.2 million.
4. "Forgetting Sarah Marshall," $11 million.
5. "Nim's Island," $4.5 million.
6. "Prom Night," $4.4 million.
7. "21," $4 million.
8. "88 Minutes," $3.6 million.
9. "Dr. Seuss' Horton Hears a Who!", $2.4 million.
10. "Deception," $2.2 million.