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SUNDAY AM: Talk about a tired premise. It’s difficult to imagine a more overworked plot device than the body swap. But stick a tween dream like Zac Efron in this drivel – and suddenly the domestic box office dollars flow. So the New Line/Warner Bros’ 17 Again opened to $9.4 million Friday and $9.1 million Saturday from 3,255 theaters for No. 1 and a $24M weekend. After a successful Saturday Night Live hosting gig where he poked gentle fun at his fame and fans and sexuality, Zac has now staked a solid claim to a post-High School Musical career. (Disney is continuing the franchise without the original cast.) But the question still remains whether Efron can graduate to pics where he plays anyone older than a teen. But I wouldn’t write him off just yet as not having the eventual range of, say, Leonardo DiCaprio. Then again, no less than Cameron, Spielberg and Scorsese took Leo to the next level. Zac may never get opportunities to work with great directors.

Working Title/Universal’s feature film retool of the crackling BBC TV mini-series State Of Play had the kind of pedigreed cast and production values that screamed this is a cut-above kind of pic. But the studio first had to buck the trend of complex and smart adult drama/thrillers not performing at the box office. (International did only $9.3M. Body of Lies was just $12.9M.) So Universal tried to sell State Of Play not as a political thriller but as a journalistic thriller along the lines of Absence Of Malice or All The Presidents Men. (I hear studio toppers had these oldies in mind when they decided to move forward on the pic in the first place — even though journos are even less popular than pols these days.) On Friday, State Of Play debuted to #2 but with only $4.6 million. It went up 28% for Saturday adding $5.9 million from 2,803 venues. So that’s an underperforming $14.1M weekend. Opening weekend gross outside of North America was $2M from 3 territories. Would original leading man Brad Pitt have made a difference in the film’s box office? Nah. Exit polling showed that the main reason moviegoers saw State Of Play was Russell Crowe (66%), followed by story (52%). With an “A-” Cinema Score, the audience breakdown was 55%/45% female/male, 75%/25% over/under age 35.

Coming in #3 was DreamWorks Animation/ Paramount’s Monsters v Aliens with $3.5 million Friday and $5.5 million Saturday from 3,662 theaters for another $12.9M weekend and new cume of $162.7M. In 4th place, Disney’s Hannah Montana, The Movie dropped a whopping -77% from its Good Friday opening for $4 million and earning $5.6 million Saturday from 3,118 plays and a $12.6M weekend (-60%) and new cume of $56.1M. Universal’s overperforming Fast & Furious with the original cast was No. 5 and earned $3.8 million Friday and $4.5 million Saturday from 3,674 runs for $12.3M weekend and new cume of $136.7M. Internationally, the street racing actioner looks No. 1 again this weekend with another $36M from 59 territories for a big overseas cume to date of $145 million.

That leaves Lionsgate’s latest Jason Statham actioner Crank 2: High Voltage to open a weak #6 with $2.7 million Friday and $2.4 million Saturday from 2,223 dates for just a $6.5M weekend. Meanwhile, in 7th place, Warner Bros’ R-rated mall cop comedy (and I use that term loosely because of the offensive date rape scene) Observe & Report is officially and mercifully dead with only a $4M weekend (-63%) from 2,727 theaters and paltry $18.6M cume.

In 8th place, Summit Entertainment’s Knowing finished the weekend with $3.4M from 2,408 venues for a new cume of $73.6M. DreamWorks/Paramount’s I Love You, Man was #9 with $3.3M from 2,202 dates for a fresh $64.6M cume. And, rounding out the Top 10 is Lionsgate’s The Haunting In Connecticut with $3.1M from 2,255 runs for a new cume of $51.9M.

This looks like another powered-up weekend at the box office with $112M, up 19.7% from last year.

For more estimates listed by title, see box office results here...

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

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