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''Fool's Gold'' tops box office

The Matthew McConaughey/Kate Hudson romantic comedy earns $22 its first weekend; meanwhile, Miley Cyrus’ concert flick takes a huge tumble

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It was a fool’s paradise at the box office this weekend as the tropical romantic comedy Fool’s Gold mined an easy victory in the face of critical ire and strong competition. (Well, actually, several movies, like the Vince Vaughn and Miley Cyrus concert flicks, wound up being much, much weaker than expected. We’ll get to them in a moment.)

As anticipated, Matthew McConaughey and Kate Hudson’s latest joint-starring vehicle brought in a cool $22 million, according to Sunday’s estimates. That’s a strong gross indeed, though it didn’t approach any records of note and falls a notch below the $23.8 mil that the actors’ How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days banked on its opening weekend back in 2003. (Also ho-hum: The movie’s B- CinemaScore review from an audience that skewed slightly older and female.) While the $22 mil figure is a bit better than the $21.5 mil first-weekend take of Hudson’s last release, You, Me & Dupree, it’s slightly off from the $24.4 mil that McConaughey’s Failure to Launch debuted with two years ago. Still, all of those premieres are in the same ballpark, so that’s nice.

Also in line with predictions, Martin Lawrence’s Welcome Home Roscoe Jenkins (No. 2) earned $17.1 mil — another solid if unspectacular take. That opening is smaller than those claimed by many of the comedian’s recent releases, but it is his best bow in five years for a movie that didn’t costar John Travolta or have a ”2” (or a ”II”) in the title. Besides, the film got an A- CinemaScore grade from its own older-female crowd. So that’s nice, too.

Third place on the weekend chart, however, is where things start to go a little haywire. Hannah Montana & Miley Cyrus: Best of Both Worlds Concert slipped in at No. 3 with a $10.5 mil take — way below most prognosticators’ guesses, especially mine. Oh well. All I can say in my defense is that, since there’s never been a release like it, just about any prediction for this digital 3-D event movie was like a shot in the dark. And speaking of breaking precedents, with a huge 66 percent drop this weekend, the film can now boast of having achieved the highest-ever per-theater average in its opening frame ($45,560) before turning right around the next week to endure one of the steepest second-weekend declines of all time. But hey, at least all the tweens out there have gotten to see the movie by now. So, you know, that’s nice.

Rounding out the top five, Jessica Alba’s horror remake The Eye came in at No. 4 with $6.6 mil, and Juno kept chugging along with $5.7 mil at No. 5, bringing its cumulative take to $117.6 mil. Yep, super nice.

Way below the top of the chart, Vince Vaughn’s Wild West Comedy Show tanked big-time, grossing a mere $507,277 in 962 locations (that’s a pathetic average of $527 per theater). But there was at least one small-release winner: The Colin Farrell crime comedy In Bruges shot up a sweet $16,829 average in 28 locations. Verrry nice!

Overall, the cumulative box office gross was down about 1 percent from the same frame a year ago (when another poorly reviewed movie, Norbit, charmed audiences). And considering all the twists and turns and surprises this weekend, I suppose it could have been a lot worse. Which is nice.

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