SATURDAY PM/SUNDAY AM: Sources tell me that Sony Picture’s opening Angels & Demons received a much-needed +7% boost at Saturday’s domestic box office for $17.9M from 3,527 theaters. With Friday’s $16.6M and Sunday’s $13.6M estimate, the studio didn’t get divine intervention for a hoped-for $50M weekend –  poor reviews took their toll — but settled for $48M. (That’s 62% of its predecessor The Da Vinci Code‘s North American grosses.) That’s because the pic appealed to a more mature audience: opening weekend demographics showed the  under/over 30 age break was evenly split. But the day and date international take has been spectacular — so Sony reported an additional $104.3M on 10,468 screens from 96 countries where Angels & Demons debuted for a worldwide take in $152.3 million. Overseas, the pic was #1 in every territory it debuted. It did 73% of the foreign opening Da Vinci Code — and that is without Mexico, India, a few other countries included in the DVC launch but still ahead for A&D.

Rival studios predicting a $55M-$60M domestic weekend called the result “very disappointing”. Especially since this wasn’t a cheap movie to make what with all the top dollar and/or gross players involved like Tom Hanks, Ron Howard, Brian Grazer. Screenwriter Akiva Goldsman received $4 million, a new high for a book adaptation, then another marquee name, David Koepp, rewrote the screenplay. But Sony said the film has taken in more than its production budget in its first few days of release and the studio expects a good multiple in the weeks ahead. Angels & Demons also is the 2nd highest live-action debut of Tom Hank’s career with an opening greater than Castaway.

Angels & Demons wasn’t expected to do bigger numbers than The Da Vinci Code which sold twice as many books with a similar Vatican mystery storyline. The 2006 film phenom did $77M domestic its opening weekend for $758M worldwide. Which is why Sony is depending on Angels & Demons, too, to make the bulk of its money overseas.  (Da Vinci Code did $217M domestic vs $540M international).

The No. 2 movie was Paramount’s Star Trek which showed strong legs Saturday with $18.3M – better even than Angels & Demons take. That’s a remarkable hold as great word-of-mouth about the film kicked in and the studio said families turned out in a big way. Add in Friday’s $11.7M and Sunday’s estimate, and JJ Abrams’ reboot earned another big $43M, down only 43% from last week’s total. Its new cume is $147.6M.

At No. 3, Fox’s X-Men Origins: Wolverine earned $4.2M Friday and $6.4M Saturday from 3,892 venues for a $14.8M weekend after two weeks in theaters and fresh $151M cume.

In 4th place, New Line/Warner Bros’ Ghosts of Girlfriends Past eked out a $2.1M Friday and $2.8M Saturday in 3,150 dates for a $6.6M weekend and disappointing $39.8M cume.

And, rounding out the Top 5 was Screen Gems/Sony’s Obsessed in its 4th week of release with $1.4m Friday and $1.9M Saturday from 2,634 runs for another $4.5M weekend and nice $62.5M cume.

Overall, it was a huge $131.7M summer blockbuster weekend, up 7% from last year.

FRIDAY PM/SATURDAY AM: Friday’s opening North American grosses for Imagine/Sony’s Angels & Demons were $16.6 million Friday from 3,527 theaters. After less than expected matinees, “it’s been getting better as the night goes on – so the number could even be a little bigger,” a Sony exec told me Friday night. “Everything points to a huge adult Saturday.” So the studio believes the weekend total can’t be lower than $47M and still has a shot at the $50M Sony wanted. “That, plus the great results we got today around the world, put us on target for the big worldwide opening we’ve hoped for.”

Meanwhile, what some predicted as a neck-and-neck race for No. 1 wasn’t, as Paramount’s Star Trek fell -56% from last week’s big opening. This Friday, the reboot made $11.8M from 3,860 theaters for what should be a $37M weekend and big new cume of $141M. Meanwhile, in a marketing bonanza for the pic, up in the International Space Station, the 3 astronauts watched JJ Abrams reboot in space. It was beamed up to them Friday after being reformatted by NASA technicians. Turns out all 3 astronauts — the American, Russian, and Japanese, are Trekkies. A “movie night” is a tradition on the station.

FRIDAY 3:30 PM: First word on North American matinees for Imagine/Sony’s Angels & Demons is coming in to me, and it’s causing the experts to revise downward their early Fri-Sat-Sun predictions of low $50sM-$60M from 3,527 domestic theaters. Now a more realistic weekend total is “40ish” after Sony internally had been hoping for $50+M. But matinees can be notoriously unreliable unless a movie is an immediate blockbuster or bomb. Even so, it’s tough for films to sustain just on older females making Angels & Demons their first choice, followed by older males, with definite interest and awareness trending the same way. The problem is that young males are the laggard quadrant. Like duh, because of huge choices in the marketplace.

So there’s amazing concensus that Paramount’s No. 1 monster hit from last weekend, Star Trek, won’t lose much momentum. It’s put in some very strong midweek numbers. So this weekend it probably will be down around 50% for a $38M second-place finish. (Though some think it could reach $40M because of the great word of mouth.)

And 20th Century Fox’s X-Men Origins: Wolverine still has legs starting its 3rd week for $12M to $14M.

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

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

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