Hitchhiker Rides to the Top

Disney execs have no reason to panic as the Buena Vista release, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, easily claimed the top spot at the domestic box office over the weekend. The sci-fi comedy picked up an estimated $21.7 million, nearly twice as much as fellow effects-filled newcomer XXX: State of the Union from Sony/Revolution Studios.

Based on the 1979 book by Douglas Adams, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy stars Martin Freeman (Love Actually, BBC’s The Office) as Arthur Dent, a man who learns that Earth is about to be exploded to make room for an intergalactic highway. His best friend, Ford Perfect (Mos Def), turns out to be an interstellar hitchhiker who takes Arthur along on an incredible adventure that begins when the world ends. The pic also stars Zooey Deschanel, John Malkovich, Sam Rockwell, Bill Nighy and Alan Rickman (as the voice of Marvin the robot).

The film’s highlights include the animated vignettes that illustrate chapters of the title publication, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. British animation house Shynola created the humorous 2D animation, while Cinesite (Europe) handled the lion’s share of the movie’s digital effects work and Jim Henson’s Creature shop combined animatronics and costumed characters to bring even more texture to the production.

Universal’s political thriller, The Interpreter, slipped to second place with around $14.2 million in its second week. The pairing of Sean Pen and Nicole Kidman proved more enticing than Ice Cube taking over for Vin Diesel in XXX: State of the Union, which debuted in third with a disappointing $13.7 million. ILM provided the extensive digital effects work for this story of a streetwise convict who escapes from prison to join a very unconventional secret agent program.

MGM’s remake of The Amityville Horror scared up just over $8 million, bringing the $20 million movie’s cume to around $55 million in its third week. The moderately budgeted fright flick has grossed nearly as much as Paramount’s $130 million Sahara. The action/adventure/comedy rounds out the top five with an estimated $6 million for the weekend and a four-week take of roughly $57 million.