Beyonce Beats The Grim Reaper In A Box-Office Battle

'The Pink Panther' outruns 'Final Destination' in a close weekend race.

Despite his perpetual clumsiness, Steve Martin’s Inspector Clouseau got at least one thing right this weekend, scoring the #1 film at the box office.

“The Pink Panther,” a remake of the 1963 comedy classic, bowed at the top spot on the box-office top 10 with $21.7 million, according to early estimates. In the film, Martin plays the bumbling Inspector Clouseau, called in by the French government to help solve the mystery of a murdered soccer coach and his missing ring, set with a priceless diamond called the Pink Panther. Beyoncé plays Xania, the pop-star girlfriend of the coach and a suspect in the case.

New releases dominated the box-office top 10 this week as “Final Destination 3,” “Curious George” and “Firewall” took spots two, three and four, respectively.

The third installment in the “Final Destination” series bowed at #2 with more than $20.1 million. The thriller flick centers on a high school senior who has a premonition about a roller-coaster accident and manages to save her friends from certain death, only to find that the Grim Reaper isn’t so easily beaten (see ” ‘Final Destination 3′ Rolls Out All-New Cool Ways To Die” ).

Back in family-friendly territory, Drew Barrymore and Will Ferrell lent their voices to “Curious George,” the animated feature that bowed at #3 on the box-office top 10 with more than $15.3 million. Ferrell voices the Man in the Yellow Hat, who looks after a very inquisitive monkey that can’t seem to keep out of trouble.

Harrison Ford’s action flick “Firewall” debuted at #4 with more than $13.8 million. Ford stars as a global bank’s security chief forced to aid a heist in order to save his wife and two children — who have been kidnapped by a criminal demanding $100 million (see “Harrison Ford Takes A Beating For ‘Firewall’ And Asks For More” ).

With the four new releases taking over the box-office top 10, last week’s #1 film, “When a Stranger Calls,” was knocked down to #5 with $10 million. The thriller centers on a young babysitter terrorized by ominous phone calls that the police discover are coming from inside the house (see ” ‘When A Stranger Calls’ Brings The Horror Home “) .

“Big Momma’s House 2,” starring Martin Lawrence as FBI special agent Malcolm Turner, fell from #2 to #6 this week. Turner goes undercover as Big Momma to solve the mystery of his ex-partner’s murder in the comedy (see “Rewind: A Wardrobe Full of Cinematic Cross-Dressing Goodness” ), which earned more than $6.8 million.

Rounding out the latest box-office top 10 are “Nanny McPhee,” which fell from #3 to #7 with more than $5.2 million; “Brokeback Mountain,” which slipped from #4 to #8 with more than $4.1 million; “Hoodwinked,” which dropped from #5 to #9 with more than $2.5 million; and “Underworld: Evolution,” which slid from #6 to #10 with $2.5 million.

Overall, ticket sales were up from the corresponding weekend last year.

Next week, look for “Freedomland,” “Date Movie” and “Eight Below” to debut on the box-office top 10.

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