Denzel Washington, Spike Lee Beat Box-Office Bests With ‘Inside Man’

Bank heist film opens with $29 million to top 'V for Vendetta' and 'Stay Alive.'

Denzel Washington and Spike Lee had the best opening weekends of their careers — and helped pull Hollywood out of a monthlong box-office slump — as “Inside Man” debuted at #1.

The crime drama earned more than $29 million, according to early estimates, knocking last week’s #1 film, “V for Vendetta,” down to #2. Jodie Foster and Clive Owen co-star in “Inside Man,” a heist thriller in which a group of unusually clever criminals rob a bank and hold 50 people hostage.

“Inside Man” ‘s opening beat Washington’s previous best ($22.8 million for 2004′s “Man on Fire”) and Lee’s last big earner, 2000′s “The Original Kings of Comedy,” which earned $11.1 million in its first weekend, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

“V for Vendetta,” which stars a buzz-cut-sporting Natalie Portman, fell to #2 this week with more than $12.3 million. Last week’s #1 film follows Portman’s character as she joins forces with V, a vigilante working to coerce fellow citizens to rise up against a dangerous government (see “Beautiful Bald Babe And Masked Rebel Fight For Freedom In ‘V For Vendetta’ “ ).

Though it couldn’t beat “Vendetta,” the thriller flick “Stay Alive” made an impact at the box office, bowing at #3 with more than $11.2 million. Frankie Muniz and Samaire Armstrong (“The O.C.”) star in the film about a group of friends who find a mysterious video game and are killed off one by one as they die in the game (see “Samaire Armstrong Vows No More Scary Movies After ‘Stay Alive’ “ ).

The romantic comedy “Failure to Launch” follows behind the three thrillers, dropping from #2 to #4 with $10.8 million in ticket sales. Matthew McConaughey stars in the film as a man in his 30s who refuses to move out of his parents’ home. Sarah Jessica Parker plays McConaughey’s romantic interest, the woman convinced she can get him to finally move out (see ” ‘Failure To Launch’ Addresses National Epidemic: ‘Adultescents’ “ ).

“The Shaggy Dog,” Tim Allen’s comedy about a father of two who gets bitten by the family dog and turns into a canine, slipped from #3 to #5. The family-friendly remake, which co-stars “Sex and the City” ‘s Kristin Davis, earned more than $9.1 million in its third week in theaters.

Amanda Bynes’ teen comedy “She’s the Man” also slid two spots to come in at #6 this week. The film about a girl who goes undercover and enrolls in a boys-only boarding school earned more than $7.4 million (see “Amanda Bynes Says She’s ‘Hideous’ As A Man In Latest Flick” ).

Rounding out this week’s box-office top 10 are “Larry the Cable Guy: Health Inspector,” which bowed at #7 with more than $7 million; “The Hills Have Eyes,” which fell from #5 to #8 with more than $4.2 million; “Eight Below,” which slid from #7 to #9 with more than $2.7 million; and “16 Blocks,” which dropped from #6 to #10 with more than $2.2 million.

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

Next week, look for “Ice Age: The Meltdown,” “Slither” and “Basic Instinct 2″ to debut on the box office top 10. “ATL,” starring T.I., Big Boi and Bone Crusher, and the Beastie Boys concert film “Awesome, I F—in’ Shot That!” also open Friday.

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