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Super 8′ Tops Weekend Box Office

Sci-fi thriller “Super 8″ grossed an estimated $37 million over the three-day weekend, exceeding earlier projections thanks to a late-week marketing surge that included sneak previews and an effort to generate social media buzz.


Released by Viacom Inc.’s Paramount Pictures, the $50 million film had been expected to take in $25 million to $30 million domestically. In addition to its weekend earnings, “Super 8″ made an additional $1 million on Thursday, following a well-promoted campaign with Twitter Inc. that advertised early screenings at over 300 locations designed to encourage positive word of mouth.

Cryptic marketing for the film, which was directed by J.J. Abrams and produced by Steven Spielberg, revealed few details about its plot, a strategy that some in the industry believed would limit its turn out. Paramount executives said the plan all along was to maintain an air of mystery.

Paramount’s executive vice president  for distribution, Don Harris, credited the Twitter partnership for helping to raise awareness for the film.

“Certainly, being able to come out of a movie and instantly tell your friends to see it because you heard about it under the radar is helpful,” he said in an interview Sunday. He added that using social media was only part of the film’s final week push, which was also fueled by additional sneak previews, generally positive reviews and a slightly tweaked marketing campaign.

Overall, the film appealed primarily to older men, with 71% of the audience over the age of 25 and 56% male, though Mr. Harris hopes the film will boost its younger demographic after more students begin their summer vacations.

Internationally, “Super 8″ opened in nine markets, grossing $6.7 million from 652 locations.

Last week’s top-grossing film, “X-Men: First Class” from News Corp.’s Twentieth Century Fox dropped 55% to gross $25 million, bringing its cumulative domestic total to $98.9 million. The film’s drop was the second-best for the comic book franchise, following the 53% drop of second installment “X2.”

“The Hangover Part II,” from Time Warner Inc.’s Warner Bros., “Kung Fu Panda 2,” from DreamWorks Animation SKG Inc. and “Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides,” from Walt Disney Co., rounded out the top five for the weekend. With its $208.8 million cumulative domestic gross, the Johnny Depp franchise film becomes the third film of 2011 to pass the $200 million threshold in the U.S. and Canada, following “The Hangover Part II” and “Fast Five,” from Comcast Corp.’s Universal Pictures.

The weekend’s other new release, Relativity Media LLC’s “Judy Moody and the Not Bummer Summer,” opened in seventh place with $6.3 million.

In limited release, Woody Allen’s nostalgic comedy “Midnight in Paris” expanded to 944 screens, from 147, and took in $6.1 million. The film, which was released by Sony Corp.’s Sony Pictures Classics, has grossed $14.2 million to date. Playing in 47 theaters, Fox Searchlight’s “Tree of Life” earned $875,126, delivering a $18,620 per screen average — the weekend’s highest.

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