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''Fantastic Four'' debuts at No. 1

The ”Fantastic Four” sequel opens better than the original; meanwhile, ”Ocean’s” and ”Knocked Up” hold up nicely, but ”Nancy Drew” falters

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Diyah Pera

After this weekend, well, you can add beating box office skeptics to the Fantastic Four’s little bag of superpowers: The quartet’s big-budget sequel Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer generally exceeded industry expectations, opening at No. 1 with $57.4 million.

That’s a shade better than the $56.1 mil debut of Fantastic Four two years ago. It also makes for the best Father’s Day weekend premiere ever, besting Scooby-Doo‘s $54.2 mil in 2002. Indeed, a majority of the movie’s ticket buyers — folks who, I should mention, awarded the film a not-so-great CinemaScore of B — were men and people over age 25. They could be dads, right? Well, happy day for them: Their families took them to the movies! My father? Oh, he’s getting a shout-out in EW.com’s Box Office Report. Lucky guy. Love ya, Dad!

Anyway, as it happened, this was also a fantastic frame for the rest of the movies in the top five, all of which held strong with decent drops from last weekend. Ocean’s Thirteen (No. 2) declined just 47 percent from its big opening to earn $19.1 mil; the Clooney caper’s cumulative gross is now $69.8 mil. Knocked Up (No. 3) held onto a whopping 74 percent of its audience, earning $14.5 mil and boosting its three-week take to $90.5 mil. Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End (No. 4) uncovered another treasure of $12 mil on a very nice 43 percent drop; it has a four-week domestic booty of $273.8 mil. And Surf’s Up (No. 5) stayed afloat despite its disappointing debut last time around, declining just 47 percent to earn $9.3 mil and come into shore after two weeks with $34.7 mil in prize money.

But while big grosses buoyed many of the current heavyweight hits, several other movies sank just on their maiden voyages. Nancy Drew (No. 7) drew a nice A- CinemaScore from an audience that was, not surprisingly, 77 percent female. But it was unable to capitalize on all that love and solve the mystery of the box office, earning a sorry $7.1 mil in its first frame. Similarly, the Weinstein Co.’s distaff martial arts flick DOA: Dead or Alive was, that’s right, totally dead on arrival, bringing in a pathetic $232,000 in 505 theaters — a ridiculously poor $459 average. And even though it seemed to have been advertised all over the Internet, the imported Kiwi rom-com Eagle vs. Shark fell prey to the American movie consumer, grossing just $21,000 in three venues.

All told, the box office was down for the third consecutive weekend, about 4.5 percent below the same frame last year, when Cars, Nacho Libre, and The Fast and the Furious 3 led the way. But, eh, no big deal: The summer’s still going strong, and hey, it’s Father’s Day! As long as his favorite 5-iron didn’t go missing, it’s sure to be a good weekend after all.