Ashton Kutcher personally punk'd all comers this weekend.
Making like Demi Moore, movie audiences couldn't get enough of the former That '70s Show space case as he landed his two new films, the critter cartoon Open Season and the all-wet action flick The Guardian, 1-2 at the box office, accounting for more than $40 million in ticket sales, per final studio figures released Monday.
Topping the list was Open Season, opening with $23.6 million. The PG-rated film, in which Kutcher voices a manic antler-challenged deer opposite Martin Lawrence's hunter-phobic bear, averaged $6,163 on 3,833 screens. Open Season is the first release from Sony's animation division and gave the studio a record 11th number-one opener this year.
The flesh-and-blood version of Kutcher did slightly less business as The Guardian tallied $18 million. Costarring Kevin Costner, the Coast Guard drama launched in 3,241 theaters and averaged $5,556, which distributor Disney said fell within studio expectations. In any case, it represented the best opening for Costner since another water-logged film, the much maligned Waterworld, which splashed in with $21.7 million way back in summer 1995.
The third major newcomer, School for Scoundrels, was bullied by last week's number one, Jackass: Number Two, and managed a weakling $8.6 million showing in fourth place. The nerd-revenge comedy, pitting Napoleon Dynamite's Jon Heder against Billy Bob Thornton, averaged $2,864 at 3004 locations.
Unspooling on 441 sites, Destination Films' faith-based drama Facing the Giants, about an underdog high school football team inspired by its God-fearing coach, scored $1.3 million on a $3,047 average to open in 12th place.
Meanwhile, in really limited release two Oscar-buzzing films did royally.
Miramax's The Queen, in which Helen Mirren portrays a stalwart Elizabeth II during the emotional pandemonium surrounding the death of Princess Diana, opened at just three theaters in New York on Saturday and averaged a sparkling $40,671 for a two-day gross of $122,014.
Fox Searchlight's The Last King of Scotland, with Forest Whitaker channeling notorious Ugandan dictator Idi Amin, opened at just four locations in New York and Los Angeles and averaged $35,725 over three days for $142,889. Both movies will expand to more theaters this week.
Of last week's debuts, Jackass: Number Two fell 50 percent to $14.6 million for a total of $52.1 million. Jet Li's Fearless dropped 53 percent, earning $5 million in fifth place for a total of $18.1 million.
Faring even worse was the airborne World War I drama Flyboys, which crashed 61 percent, falling to eighth place with $2.4 million to bring its two-week gross to $9.9 million. Falling out to the Top 10--and probably losing any momentum for awards recognition--was the Sean Penn-powered political drama All the King's Men, in 11th place with $1.5 million for a two-week take of $6.2 million.
On the flip side, Little Miss Sunshine registered its 10th week in the Top 10 with another $2 million to bring its total to $53.1 million.
After three down weekends, the overall box office was up 5 percent over last week and 15 percent better than this time last year.
Here are the top-grossing films from Friday to Sunday, per final studio figures compiled by Exhibitor Relations:
1. Open Season, $23.6 million
2. The Guardian, $18 million
3. Jackass: Number Two, $14.6 million
4. School for Scoundrels, $8.6 million
5. Jet Li's Fearless, $5 million
6. Gridiron Gang, $4.6 million
7. The Illusionist, $2.7 million
8. Flyboys, $2.4 million
9. The Black Dahlia, $2.1 million
10. Little Miss Sunshine, $2 million
------------ Just like to say that I saw "The Guardian" as a sneak preview a couple of weeks ago and it was spectacular. Loved it.