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    Sex Sells

    Sarah Jessica Parker, Cynthia Nixon, Kristin Davis, Kim Cattrall, Sex and the City HBO / Craig Blankenhorn

    In the end, yes, Sex and the City's largely female fan base was a bad box office thing. For Indiana Jones.

    The big-screen outing for Carrie Bradshaw and company knocked the latest Indy adventure from atop the weekend box office standings, with an unprecedented $55.7 million three-day gross, per studio estimates today from Exhibitor Relations Co.

    The debut makes Sex and the City the top-opening romantic comedy of all time, bypassing the likes of Hitch ($43.1 million), The Break-Up ($39.2 million) and Knocked Up ($30.7 million).

    It also ranks as the second biggest debut for a TV adaptation behind Mission: Impossible II, which opened with $57.8 million in 2000, per Box Office Mojo.

    Sex's opening beat the most optimistic projections, which foresaw a Friday-Sunday gross in the $40 million range.

    And it trumped conventional wisdom that said the film's woman-led cast of Sarah Jessica Parker, Kim Cattrall, Kristin Davis and Cynthia Nixon and female-skewing storylines, all continuations from the 1998-2004 series, would limit its ability to sell tickets.

    With the initial questions answered, only one lingered: Once the initial rush was over, would Sex be a short-lived phenomenon?

    Sex opened big—very big—on Friday, amid reports of group parties and thousands of sold-out screenings. Its nearly $27 million take was more than Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull brought in on its first day, which was albeit a Thursday.

    But where most movies, even a fellow R-rated comedy like Knocked Up, get bigger on Saturday, Sex got smaller, slipping to $17.7 million. Sunday was expected to bring in $11.1 million.

    Add it all up, though, and Sex will end the weekend nearly covering its $65 million budget. And that's not counting overseas grosses, which were not yet reported.

    • Second-place Indiana Jones suffered the usual, second-weekend 50 percent plunge. Actually, in Indy's case, it was a 54 percent drop, which doesn't look so bad when you still come up with another $46 million and bring your overall total to $216.9 million.
    • In a lesser weekend, The Strangers (third place, $20.7 million) might have finished No. 1. As it was, the Liv Tyler horror-thriller posted the year's second-best debut for a horror-thriller after Prom Night, which did finish first in a lesser weekend.
    • Iron Man (fourth place, $14 million; $276.6 million) has now outgrossed every superhero movie ever made outside of the Spider-Man franchise.
    • With half the Top 10 bringing in more than $10 million each, overall business was up when compared to the same weekend last year.
    • Harold & Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay ($475,000) fell out of the Top 10 after five weekends. With $37 million in the bank, the movie grossed more than double the original Harold & Kumar adventure.
    • Savage Grace ($25,000 on two screens), the opulent true-life thriller starring Julianne Moore, made more money per theater than Indiana Jones.
    • The martial-arts comedy The Foot Fist Way also enjoyed a strong debut, grossing $36,012 at four theaters.

    Here's a recap of the top-grossing weekend films based on Friday-Sunday estimates compiled by Exhibitor Relations:

    1. Sex and the City, $55.7 million
    2. Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, $46 million
    3. The Strangers, $20.7 million
    4. Iron Man, $14 million
    5. The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian, $13 million
    6. What Happens in Vegas, $6.9 million
    7. Baby Mama, $2.2 million
    8. Speed Racer, $2.1 million
    9. Made of Honor, $2 million
    10. Forgetting Sarah Marshall, $1 million

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