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    Zac Efron vs. Russell Crowe? No Contest

    Zac Efron, 17 Again Chuck Zlotnick/Warner Bros. Entertainment

    Poor Oscar-winning Russell Crowe. He never had a chance against Zac Efron.

    Efron's 17 Again grossed an estimated $24.1 million at the weekend box office, per Exhibitor Relations. The body-swapping comedy hit the upper range of projections and dominated the competition, including the new Crowe thriller, State of Play ($14.1 million).

    Elsewhere, Miley Cyrus' Hannah Montana: The Movie ($12.7 million) fell fast and furious, while Crank: High Voltage ($6.5 millon) suffered a cold start.

    Drilling down into the numbers:

    As box office weekends during this red-hot year go, this one was tepid—no film reported a per-screen average of at least $10,000. 17 Again led the top films with a $7,393 average.

    If estimates hold, 17 Again will become the year's lowest-grossing movie to open at No. 1, although it'll be right there in the neighborhood of Race to Witch Mountain, Knowing and Taken.

    17 Again's take was enough to let Efron call himself a movie-opener. He did, after all, out-open Crowe, Julia Roberts, Steve Martin, Seth Rogen and all three Jonas brothers, to name some 2009 box office leads.

    For those keeping the teen-idol score at home, Efron did not out-open Cyrus/Hannah Montana or his own High School Musical 3: Senior Year, both of which, unlike 17 Again, were based on hit TV properties.

    By placing second, State of Play seemed to disprove the Los Angeles Times' notion that the film was going to be the end of the non-tween film. Still, its debut was virtually identical to that of Roberts' Duplicity, which departed the Top 10 after four weekends and a disappointing $39.1 million gross. Also, State of Play's debut leaves it a long way, on the domestic side, at least, from its reported $60 million budget.

    For those keeping the gender-war score at home, a search for "Russell Crowe" and "too old" yielded 58 percent fewer Google results today than "Julia Roberts" and "too old." (Crowe, by the by, is 45; Roberts, 41.)

    Last weekend's No. 1 film, Hannah Montana, saw ticket sales plunge 61 percent. Still, the reputed $35 million comedy upped its overall take to $56.1 million.

    Among the new releases, Crank: High Voltage not only didn't challenge 17 Again or State of Play, it didn't challenge the original Crank, which opened with $10.5 million in 2006.

    In its second weekend, Rogen's Observe and Report ($4.1 million; $18.7 million overall) is all but done, but not before topping its reported $18 million budget.

    The low-budget Adventureland ($1.3 million) exits the Top 10 after two weekends, and a $14 million overall take.

    Reports vary wildly on the budget of Dragonball Evolution ($1.6 million). For the sake of the economy, it would be best if production costs were on the extremely low side, as the film was bounced from the Top 10 after just one weekend, and a cumulative "gross" of $7.8 million.

    By the way, if you didn't have a movie in release this weekend, then Dragonball Evolution only made $722 more per theater than you did.

    In limited release, the A Chorus Line documentary, Every Little Step, killed, grossing $72,616 at eight theaters for a weekend-best $9,077 per-screen average. Michael Caine's Is Anybody There? ($45,112 at six theaters) was another art-house standout.

    American Violet ($257,114 at 61 theaters), a little courtroom drama about race and the nation's drug laws, boasted a bigger per-screen average ($4,215) than all but two Top 10 films.

    Here's a complete look at the weekend's top-grossing films based on Friday-Sunday estimates as compiled by Exhibitor Relations:

    1. 17 Again, $24.1 million
    2. State of Play, $14.1 million
    3. Monsters vs. Aliens, $12.9 million
    4. Hannah Montana: The Movie, $12.7 million
    5. Fast & Furious, $12.3 million
    6. Crank: High Voltage, $6.5 million
    7. Observe and Report, $4.1 million
    8. Knowing, $3.5 million
    9. I Love You, Man, $3.4 million
    10. The Haunting in Connecticut, $3.2 million

    (Originally published April 19, 2009, at 9:26 a.m. PT)


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