Steve Carell's spy spoof took No. 1, while Mike Myers' ''The Love Guru'' had bad karma this weekend

Steve Carell, Anne Hathaway, ...
Credit: Tracy Bennett

Get Smart, Steve Carell’s update of the classic 1960s TV show, wound up an easy victor in this weekend’s battle for box office bucks — and laughs — as Mike Myers’ The Love Guru disappointed at No. 4.

With a $39.2 mil debut, Get Smart came in right around most projections and gave all of its main stars — Carell, Anne Hathaway, and Dwayne Johnson — the biggest bow of their careers as lead actors. (Yes, it is bigger than The Scorpion King!) The film is now the second No. 1 movie of the summer to be adapted from a television show, following Sex and the City; after Carrie & Co.’s flick, it’s also the second-biggest live-action comedy opener of 2008. Credit broad appeal (the spy spoof earned a decent B+ CinemaScore grade from an audience that was divided equally between men and women and skewed 60-40 toward older people), decent reviews, and the ever-increasing appeal of its stars. With two weeks before Will Smith’s Hancock premieres, Get Smart should keep strong.

In other words, it’ll fare much like Kung Fu Panda (No. 2) has. Jack Black’s animated movie dropped a mere 35 percent on its third weekend to bring in an impressive $21.7 mil; its total now stands at $155.6 mil (though it may slow down a bit when Wall-E opens next weekend). Staying slightly less steady was The Incredible Hulk (No. 3), which dropped 61 percent to earn a still-respectable $21.6 mil and bring its 10-day sum to a jolly green $96.5 mil. But will this movie pass the $132.2 mil domestic total of Ang Lee’s 2003 Hulk installment?

One movie that’s definitely going nowhere is Mike Myers’ The Love Guru, which earned a disappointing $14 mil. While not exactly, you know, a Gigli-esque number, that total is pretty bad: It’s merely half of what most pundits predicted the film would earn, and it represents Myers’ worst opening since View From the Top‘s $7 mil bow five years ago. Worse yet, The Love Guru now enjoys the honor of becoming the second major flop of the summer, after Speed Racer (which actually grossed more on its first weekend, $18.6 mil). And with a B- CinemaScore grade from an audience that skewed slightly younger and male, Myers’ movie probably won’t see much of a karmic improvement ahead.

The bad news continued at No. 5, where M. Night Shyamalan’s The Happening dropped a staggering 67 percent to earn just $10 mil — something that many pundits (including me!) saw coming, after the film earned a deadly D CinemaScore grade last weekend. The thriller has $50.3 mil in the bank, which is okay, and certainly more than the director’s last movie, Lady in the Water, banked during its entire run, but it’s not likely to earn a whole lot more.

But there was good word outside of the top 10 — and most multiplexes — where the limited-release children’s film Kit Kittredge: An American Girl, starring Academy Award nominee Abigail Breslin and based on the popular line of dolls, earned an amazing average of $44,539 in just five theaters. Expect the movie to become a bona fide hit when it expands its run soon.

And speaking of hits, Iron Man became the year’s first film to cross the $300 mil domestic mark when it did so last Thursday. Robert Downey Jr.’s Marvel movie has now earned $304.8 mil in eight weeks, and it’s likely to finish the summer in a dead heat with Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, which has brought in $290.8 mil in five frames. Not bad, eh? I mean, at the start of the season, who saw that coming?

Phew! Lotsa good news, indeed! No surprise, then, that the total box office was up 8 percent over the same frame a year ago (when Carell’s Evan Almighty won with a weak-ish $31.2 mil). And now that the real summer has finally caught up with the box-office summer, that is a nice thing to hear, for sure.

Get Smart

  • Movie
  • PG-13
  • 111 minutes
  • Peter Segal