Newlyweds ‘Chuck and Larry’ Edge Out ‘Potter’ At Box Office

'Hairspray' sets opening-weekend record for non-animated musicals with $27.8 million.

The Top Five

#1 “I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry” ($34.8 million)

#2 “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix” ($32.2 million)
#3 “Hairspray” ($27.8 million)
#4 “Transformers” ($20.5 million)
#5 “Ratatouille” ($11 million)

Good news for Adam Sandler and Kevin James — I now pronounce you box-office champs. The union between you and audiences wasn’t only embraced this weekend, it also happens to be legal in all 50 states. (And there are some who claim we aren’t progressive …)

The story of two New York firemen who pretend to be gay in order for one of them to collect health benefits, “I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry” scored $34.8 million in its first weekend — falling well short of Sandler’s last several comedies, which, on average, made about $7 million more each, but nevertheless the new flick meets expectations for a comedy many doubted would play broadly because of its subject matter. It is only the second comedy of the summer, after “Evan Almighty,” to debut at #1.

Meanwhile, witches, wizards and (surely) even a few Muggles continued to declare themselves part of Dumbledore’s Army as “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix,” the fifth installment in the blockbuster film series, followed up its record-breaking first weekend with a smashing second frame, earning $32.2 million to push its total to a very magical $207.5 million overall. The film’s haul is even more impressive considering many of the series’ hard-core fans were inside all weekend reading J.K. Rowling’s massive concluding novel, “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows,” which was released at 12:01 a.m. Saturday.

But the most magical being of all this weekend was none other than John Travol — excuse us, he who shall not be named — a dark wizard who earlier this year tricked so many into seeing “Wild Hogs.” Opening with $27.8 million, “Hairspray” sported the highest grossing opening weekend for a non-animated musical in history. Assuming even a reasonable drop-off, by the end of next weekend “Hairspray” will be the fifth highest grossing live-action musical released since 1974.

Rounding out the top five, “Transformers” and “Ratatouille” continued to perform strongly in their third and fourth weekends, respectively. With $20.5 million over the weekend, and $263 million overall, “Transformers” will no doubt soon be joining “Shrek the Third,” “Spider-Man 3,” and “Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End” as the fourth (fourth!) flick to cross $300 million in 2007. After a weaker-than-expected opening, “Ratatouille,” meanwhile, looks like a strong bet to soon cross $200. With $11 million this weekend, the culinary critter pushed his haul to $165.6 million overall.

How’d We Do?

Now that the last Harry Potter novel has been released, where will literary audiences turn once they’ve dried their tears? (One of the deaths, we admit, made us a little weepy.) How about toward “The Dark Is Rising” series? An epic battle of good versus evil, a movie adaptation of “The Dark Is Rising” is being released this fall, but star Gregory Smith proved this weekend he’s already got magical powers. Not only did he best our writers in predicting the box office, he did so by guessing exactly the right amount “Chuck and Larry” would earn — the first time yet that anyone has done so here! With 13 weeks to go in our competition, here are our standings.

Prognosticator (Weeks Won)

Josh Horowitz, MTV Movies editor (21)
Larry Carroll, MTV News writer (10)
Celebrity guest (7)

Next Week

Get ready for Harry Potter, Optimus Prime, Ratatouille, and Chuck and Larry to scream “D’oh!” when after 18 years, the Simpsons finally make it to the big screen. The biggest flick to ever hit Springfield, “The Simpsons Movie” will debut in 3,800 theaters. Also opening next weekend is “No Reservations,” a romantic comedy starring Aaron Eckhart and Catherine Zeta-Jones, “Who’s Your Caddy?,” a black remake of “Caddyshack,” and “I Know Who Killed Me,” a thriller starring Lindsay Lohan.

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