Eddie Murphy proved he’s still a crowd pleaser, scoring his best open yet at the box office with the debut of the sequel Nutty Professor II, The Klumps.
The comedy took in $42.7 million for the weekend according to estimates by Exhibitor Relations, as the third best open of the summer just slightly ahead of Scary Movie.
Murphy works overtime in the comedy where he juggles the roles of all six characters in the Klumps family. He was healthily rewarded for his efforts in the production, “It’s an amazing opening, and proves the power of Eddie Murphy,” said Exhibitor Relations President Paul Dergarabedian.
The Harrison Ford, Michelle Pfeiffer horror film What Lies Beneath proved a continued draw landing in second place for the weekend with another $22 million in returns.
X-Men dropped to third with $11.5 million, bringing the comic book adaptation’s total take to $121.8 million in it’s two weeks in theaters.
Enduring Appeal Janet Jackson joins the cast of Nutty Professor II, as the fiancée to Murphy’s Professor Sherman Klump who heads up the boisterous family.
Critics generally slammed the comedy released by Universal Pictures, but the reviews had no effect on moviegoers. “In creating these characters he [Murphy] tapped into something audiences love. He’s given some great performances and certainly this is yet another, it’s his most beloved role,” said Dergarabedian.
Nutty Professor II marks the first number one hit for Universal since the submarine thriller U-571 ruled the box office for two weeks in April. The studio’s other big summer film, The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle, tanked last month.
Dog Days of Summer
Even with the strong Murphy opening, overall attendance dipped this weekend as compared to last year, ending a four week winning streak according to Dergarabedian.
“This is where we get into the dog days of August, but last year it didn’t happen because we had Blair Witch and Sixth Sense, comparisons get really hard.”
The other movie to debut in wide release this weekend was the family adventure Thomas and the Magic Railroad starring Peter Fonda. It just made the top 10 with a ninth place debut, considered a respectable open by Dergarabedian, “it wasn’t intended as a blockbuster, I think it did fine for what it was,” said Dergarabedian.
There’s no sign of life in the top 10 for teen comedies, the most recent Loser, dropped to 11th, proving it takes more than Jason Biggs and a boy meets girl romance to draw young audiences to the theater.
“It’s not a forgone conclusion that you will have a hit with a film like that. Trouble is, is that audiences are hard to gauge, and the teen audience is even tougher. The upside is a lot of these teen films are inexpensive to produce when compared to an average budget,” said Dergarabedian. Reuters contributed to this report.