Spoofing FX Pics Pays for Epic

Taking aim at such vfx-heavy blockbusters as Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest, X-Men: The Last Stand and The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe paid off at the box office as the 20th Century Fox comedy Epic Movie debuted in the top spot over the weekend. The spoof raked in an estimated $19.2 million, besting three new releases and a host of Oscar-nominated films rolling out in wide release.

Epic Movie is written and directed by Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer, veterans of the Scary Movie franchise. Like last year’s Date Movie, this latest installment branches out from horror to skewer a whole different genre, one characterized by films like Superman Returns, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and the Harry Potter series. The film stars Kal Penn (National Lampoon’s Van Wilder: The Rise of Taj) and Jayma Mays (TV’s Heroes), and features appearances by Carmen Electra, Fred Willard, Crispen Glover, David Carradine and Kevin McDonald, among others. Visual effects were provided by Digital Dimension and Pixel Magic.

Despite a pervasive marketing campaign, Universal’s action flick Smokin’ Aces had to settle for second place, taking in around $14 million over the weekend. CIS Hollywood contributed effects work to the ensemble piece starring Jeremy Piven, Ben Affleck, Ryan Reynolds, Andy Garcia, Alicia Keys, Jason Bateman and Common.

In its sixth week of release, Fox’s Night At the Museum continues to sell tickets. The vfx-laden comedy-adventure picked up another $9.4 million (est.) to drop just one notch to No. 3. To date, the Ben Stiller vehicle has grossed approximately $216 million domestically and nearly $392 million worldwide.

Sony’s Jennifer Garner romantic comedy Catch and Release debuted at No. 4 with just $8 million, while Sony Screen Gems’ Stomp The Yard earned an estimated $7.8 million, tumbling to No. 5 after opening at No. 1 last week. MGM’s romantically charged werewolf pic, Blood and Chocolate, opened in 1,200 theaters and took in around $2.1 million for a 15th-place finish. Framestore-CFC handled the wolf’s share of effects on the pic.