New Line Cinema's early Sixties-themed musical based on the Broadway show that was based on John Waters' picture of the same name spritzed a lustrous $27.5 million on approximately 3,900 screens at 3,121 theaters, the widest release ever for the genre. The 1988 original, also released by New Line, grossed $6.7 million in its entire run, the equivalent of roughly $11 million today.
Among musical opening weekends adjusted for ticket price inflation, Hairspray edged out The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas from 1982 and Grease from 1978, starring Hairspray's John Travolta, both of which were also summer releases. For perspective, though, those pictures had a fraction of Hairspray's theater count, and their era was considerably less weighted towards openings. In fact, Grease went on to become one of the most popular musicals with a final gross that would adjust to over $500 million today.
Like hair product-titled Grease, Hairspray appealed as bright, nostalgic fun and was a unique offering in the market, mostly for female moviegoers like The Devil Wears Prada last summer. It marks New Line's first $20 million-plus launch since Wedding Crashers two years ago and breaks the distributor's losing streak that had persisted since Final Destination 3 in February 2006.
Atop the weekend box office, I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry yanked $34.2 million out of approximately 4,400 screens at 3,495 venues. The debut demonstrated star Adam Sandler's consistency in straight comedy but was his lowest for a 3,000-plus theater release. His commercial peak remains back-to-back hits The Waterboy in 1998 and Big Daddy in 1999.
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix tumbled 58 percent in its second weekend. While steep, it was par for the course and was better than the series' previous summer release, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, which slid 63 percent. Order of the Phoenix culled $32.5 million over the weekend for a $207.9 million total in 12 days. The tally is slightly ahead of the last picture, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, at the same point, despite first and second weekend grosses that are the lowest of the franchise.
Down 45 percent in fourth place, Transformers claimed a solid $20.5 million, lifting its total to a hefty $263 million in 20 days. Ratatouille rounded out the top five with $10.9 million, off 39 percent. The animated comedy continues to trail its Pixar predecessor Cars, yet still has made $165.5 million in 24 days. Meanwhile, Live Free or Die Hard had a decent 37 percent drop to $7.1 million for $116.3 million in 26 days.
• Review: 'Hairspray'
• Interview: James Marsden on 'Hairspray'
• 7/24/06 - 'Pirates' Loot Piles Up, 'Lady' Walks Plank (Same Weekend, 2006)
• 7/25/05 - 'Island' Deserted, 'Chocolate,' 'Wedding' Take Cake (Same Weekend, 2005)
• Weekend Box Office Results
NOTE: This report was originally written on Sunday, July 22 and was revised on Monday, July 23 with actual grosses.