Box Office: Bridesmaids Steals Thor's Thunder

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Suzanne Hanover

The numbers say Thor won the weekend, again taking moviegoers to that Norse altar in the sky and winning the North American box office with $34.5 million, according to early studio estimates, for its second week at the top of the heap. But the snickering Bridesmaids, led by Kristen Wiig, may have the last laugh. The R-rated sisterhood comedy pulled in $24.4 million, nearly twice what its home studio, Universal, had cautiously predicted. To this girls-gone-wild version of a Judd Apatow farce (he produced the film), Mr. and Ms. Moviegoer said, "I do."

Bridesmaids, which reunites star and co-writer Wiig with Saturday Night Live alumna Maya Rudolph, grabbed an enthusi-wooziastic 90% from Rotten Tomatoes' survey of movie critics to go with its just O.K. B-plus CinemaScore rating of actual audience members. The film's subtle smash opening provoked cheers among all those Hollywood women hoping to make it big with the gamier style of femme films — and such teeth gnashing from Nikki Finke, the widely admired and feared proprietress of the Deadline Hollywood website, that she ought to schedule an emergency visit to her periodontist.

"I was so convinced that this rare R-rated event comedy featuring women burping and farting for our female amusement wouldn't make over $13M, even $15M tops," Finke wrote, "that I promised Universal Pictures chairman Adam Fogelson that I would leave Hollywood reporting forever if Bridesmaids did the $20+ million he thought it would. Well, I've called the moving vans because I clearly have no idea what works at the domestic box office anymore — I couldn't believe that this is why generations of women fought the feminist revolution: to ensure we had the same opportunities to watch our sex make the same raunchy movie stuff as men."

As we say at the Cannes Film Festival, Calmez-vous, Nikki. Movies are movies, and sexual politics isn't. Martin Luther King Jr. didn't die so Martin Lawrence, Eddie Murphy and Tyler Perry could play fat black women. And it's just possible that Gloria Steinem could laugh at, and with, Bridesmaids (which, if you want to blame someone with a penis, was directed by Paul Feig). Moviegoers deserve — at least the box-office returns clearly indicate they enjoy — gross-out comedies aimed at two or more sexual orientations. Instead of The Hangover, why not The Hag-over? Just for a while, let's say bye-bye, bromance; hello, womance.

It's not as if the guys have no red meat to chew on. This weekend they got Priest, in which a rebel cleric (Paul Bettany) goes on a vampire hunt to avenge the kidnapping of his niece — it opened to a middling $14.5 million. They can see the mucho-macho Thor, which in 10 days has earned nearly $120 million in domestic theaters, plus another $225 million in foreign markets. The testosterone car caper Fast Five, which preceded Thor by a week in North America, is closing in on $170 million at home and $275 million abroad. The summer will see at least a half-dozen burly adventures based on toys and comic-book characters. Teens and grown men will have no trouble revisiting their infancy from now to Labor Day.

Actually, the top 10 boasted films that appeal to a wide range of demographics. Rio, a socko animated feature for the kids, has reached $125 million at home and nearly $300 million abroad. African-American women were still queuing for Jumping the Broom and Tyler Perry's Madea's Big Happy Family. If women were looking for uplift instead of a public poop, they could return to the soulful Robert Pattinson and Water for Elephants or to the inspirational message of Soul Surfer. The ladies even had a PG-13 wedding comedy: Something Borrowed, of which Bridesmaids could be seen as an instant, naughtier remake.

Indeed, six of this weekend's top 10 films at the box office were targeted squarely at women. So people of both sexes had something to cheer about — everyone but Finke.

Here are the Sunday estimates of this weekend's top-grossing pictures in North American theaters, as reported by Box Office Mojo:

1. Thor, $34.5 million; $119.3 million, second week
2. Bridesmaids, $24.4 million, first weekend
3. Fast Five, $19.5 million; $168.8 million, third week
4. Priest, $14.5 million, first weekend
5. Rio, $8 million; $125 million, fifth week
6. Jumping the Broom, $7.3 million; $26 million, second week
7. Something Borrowed, $7 million; $25.6 million, second week
8. Water for Elephants, $4.1 million; $48.5 million, fourth week
9. Tyler Perry's Madea's Big Happy Family, $2.2 million; $50.2 million, fourth week
10. Soul Surfer, $1.8 million; $39.2 million, sixth week