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SUNDAY AM: Here are the official box office numbers — Sex And The City finished its opening weekend No. 1 with North American domestic gross of $55.7 million in 3,285 theaters. The R-rated female romantic comedy posted a great $16,968 per screen average even though many multiplexes had it playing on 7+ screens. But after a female phenomenal Friday opening of $26.9M, the pic plunged 34% to make only $17.7 million on Saturday. And Sunday estimates expect another 37% downturn for $11.1 million. So on both Saturday and Sunday, the romantic comedy will be beaten by Paramount’s Indiana Jones And The Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull which playing in 4,264 venues earned $12.2M on Friday, $19.8M Saturday and an estimated $13.9M Sun for a weekend total of $46M, which was -54% from its Memorial Weekend debut. But because of steady business, it’s made a cumulative $216.8M. That’s exactly what Hollywood pros had been warning about: that Sex And The City would be a one-day, and one-weekend, wonder with no legs. But it still opened as the biggest R-rated comedy motion picture (beating American Pie 2‘s $45.1M) and the 5th biggest R-rated film ever released (behind The Matrix, The Passion Of The Christ, 300, and Hannibal). The only female-driven movie to come close to SATC in box office was the Hannah Montana movie, but there’s no comparable R-rated chick flick.

So I’ve just heard that Warner Bros is already planning for the Sex And The City sequel! ”It’s the only female movie that’s created a frenzy,” a top Warner Bros exec told me this morning. “To me, this is a cultural phenomenon. Hats off to Michael Patrick King and Sarah Jessica Parker and their team because they dug in their hooks and knew how to make it work.” According to the exit polling I’ve obtained, an incredible 85% of the audience for the movie’s opening Friday were women, and of those 80% were over the age of 25. Warner Bros claims to be seeing repeat business already. On Saturday, the audience was 75% females, who came back with boyfriends and husbands in tow. That’s why the studio feels the pic is “extremely well positioned” to keep making money. Only the numbers will tell.

Thanks to counter-programming against Sex, the 3rd-place shocker this weekend was Rogue Pictures/ Universal’s horror pic The Strangers which opened with $20.7 million from 2,466 theatres for a big per theatre average of $8,397. That’s far above industry expectations and the biggest opening gross ever for a Rogue Pictures film, and its negative cost is only $9M. Amazingly, this flick also posted Universal Pictures highest opener of 2008 (more than Forgetting Sarah Marshall’s $17.7M). According to exit stats, the audience was about evenly divided male and female (49% male vs. 51% female); under 25 yrs of age = 62%; 25 yrs of age and older = 38%; ethnically diverse, with slightly less than half Caucasian (47%), followed by Hispanic, African American, Asian, and “other.”

Here’s the Top 10 chart as of Sunday AM:

1. Sex And The City (HBO Films/New Line/WB) — 3-day Wkd: $55.7M, Cume: $55.7M
2. Indiana Jones 4 (Paramount) — 3-Day Wkd: $46M, Cume: $216.8M
3. The Strangers (Universal) — 3-day Wkd $20.7M, Cume: $20.7M
4. Iron Man (Paramount) — 3-Day Wkd: $140M, Cume: $276.6M
5. Chronicles of Narnia 2 (Disney) — 3-Day Wkd: $13M, Cume: $115.6M
6. What Happens In Vegas (Fox) — 3-Day Wkd: $6.8M, Cume: $66M
7. Baby Mama (Universal) — 3-Day Wkd: $2.2M, Cume: $56.1M
8. Speed Racer (Warner Bros) — 3-Day Wkd: $2.1M, Cume: $40.5M
9. Made Of Honor (Sony) — 3-Day Wkd: $2M, Cume: $42.9M
10. Forgetting Sarah Marshall (Universal) — 3-Day Wkd: $1M, Cume: $60.4M

SATURDAY 10:30 PM: Sources tell me that Sex And The City is pacing to be down 30% today from Friday. This is exactly what Hollywood pros were warning during yesterday’s frenzied female-driven opening that produced phenomenonal box office numbers. The result is that the HBO Films/ New Line/ Warner Bros romantic comedy may reign at No. 1 only one day. Because Saturday’s North American gross from Paramount’s Indiana Jones And The Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull will be up 60% to 65% from Friday. So both SATC and Indy 4 are looking at right around $20 million for today. Still, with a huge $15.7M disparity in Friday’s numbers, Sex And The City is almost a sure thing to win this weekend: it’s already hauled in a big $46.9M compared with $32.2M for Indiana Jones. So it did in 2 days when movie analysts didn’t even think it could do in 3. But hopes that the pic could break $75M or even $70M this weekend now look more realistic at $60M-$65M. It comes down to Sunday’s real #s. Nevertheless, SATC will wear the crown for the biggest romantic comedy debut ever and bear the title of The Ultimate Chick Flick.

  1. ‘SEX’ SELLS! Female Phenom $26.9M Fri; But Can It Sustain Through Sat & Sun?
  2. ‘Sex’ Sell-Out & Blow-Out! Could Go As High As $28M Friday, $75M Weekend
  3. IS ‘SEX’ THE ULTIMATE CHICK FLICK? Sold-Out In Cities For Gals Night Out
For more estimates listed by title, see box office results here...

Editor-in-Chief Nikki Finke - tip her here.