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''Mean Girls'' wins the box office popularity contest

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Lindsay Lohan, Mean Girls

Turns out it pays to be mean. The high-school comedy ”Mean Girls,” starring Lindsay Lohan and Tina Fey, surpassed all expectations to open at No. 1 at the box office with $25 million, according to studio estimates.

Thanks to good reviews and Lohan’s rising star power, ”Mean Girls” impressively topped last week’s debut of Jennifer Garner’s ”13 Going on 30.” The story of a new high school student who infiltrates the popular-girl clique obviously resonated with young girls, as the film was tracking very well with the under-25 female demographic.

Denzel Washington got pushed back to second place with his kidnapping thriller ”Man on Fire,” which slipped only 33 percent to $15.2 million, bringing its two-week total to $44.5 million. But the arrival of ”Mean Girls” meant that ”13 Going on 30” took a huge hit, falling 53 percent to $10 million. After 10 days, it’s earned $35.2 million.

The week’s other new releases didn’t fare nearly as well as ”Mean Girls.” Julianne Moore and Pierce Brosnan’s romance ”Laws of Attraction” debuted with $7 million, while the cloning thriller ”Godsend” (starring Greg Kinnear, Rebecca Romijn-Stamos, and Robert De Niro) was close behind with $6.9 million. And the long-delayed Jack Black/Ben Stiller comedy ”Envy” only managed a $6.1 million opening. The biggest loser might be the golf drama ”Bobby Jones: Stroke of Genius,” starring ”The Passion of the Christ”’s Jim Caviezel, which debuted with only $1.1 million, thanks to a per-theater average of only $861. Embarrassingly, ”The Passion,” in its 10th weekend, did better, earning $1.4 million. Apparently people would rather play golf on the weekend than see a movie about it.