Adam Sandler's faux gay comedy "I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry" charmed $34.8 million from moviegoers its first weekend in theaters to nudge the latest "Harry Potter" film from the top of the box office, according to studio estimates on Sunday.
"Chuck and Larry," starring Sandler and Kevin James as heterosexual Brooklyn firefighters who pose as a gay couple to qualify for domestic-partner benefits, underscored Sandler's box-office clout, although it fell short of some of his past film openings.
"Anger Management," "Big Daddy" and "Click" -- all starring Sandler -- each grossed more than $40 million in the first weekend, according to ticket sales tracker Media By Numbers. Still, executives at Universal Pictures, distributor for "Chuck and Larry," said they were happy with its opening performance.
"Adam has a huge, broad fan base. Everything seemed to click," said Nikki Rocco, president of domestic distribution for Universal, a unit of General Electric's NBC Universal, which also owns CNBC.
"Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix," the fifth film based on J.K. Rowling's blockbuster book series about the bespectacled British boy wizard, slipped to No. 2 in its second weekend at the North American box office with ticket sales of $32.2 million as Rowling's eagerly awaited seventh and final novel was released in bookstores.
The "Harry Potter" film franchise has so far pulled in more than $1.3 billion in the United States and Canada alone, according to the Web site Box Office Mojo.
Opening at No. 3 with $27.8 million this weekend was "Hairspray," the musical that features a cross-dressing John Travolta, and Michelle Pfeiffer as a racist producer.
Like the successful Broadway show that came before it, "Hairspray" was inspired by film director John Waters' quirky 1988 comedy about an unpopular teenager who longs to dance on a television show reminiscent of the legendary "American Bandstand."
Alien robot movie "Transformers," co-produced by Paramount Pictures and its DreamWorks division, landed in fourth place with sales of $20.5 million in its third week in theaters.
The big-budget film based on the popular line of toys that transform from cars and planes to good-guy Autobots and their enemy Decepticons, has amassed U.S. and Canadian sales of $263 million since its release, compared with $207.5 million for "Potter," released by Warner Bros. Pictures.
The computer-animated adventure "Ratatouille" rounded out the top five, cooking up $11 million and taking its overall total to $165.6 million. The film, produced by Walt Disneyunits Pixar Animation Studios and Walt Disney Pictures, tells the story of a gastronomically obsessed rat who dreams of becoming a chef in Paris.
North American box office revenue so far this year is up 4.4% to $5.5 billion on slightly higher attendance of 0.7%.