Sunday Box Office: Audiences Aren’t Riding ‘Pelham 1 2 3′

1. “The Hangover” ($33.4 million)
2. “Up” ($30.5 million)
3. “The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3” ($25 million)
4. “Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian” ($9.6 million)
5. “Land of the Lost” ($9.1 million)

Saturday moviegoers finally left Las Vegas, and took a ride with Denzel Washington and John Travolta, helping “The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3″ earn a few more subway tokens. The remake has taken in $25 million so far, but still lingers at #3. That’s well below current weekend winners “Up” and “The Hangover,” which will probably start the new week sitting pretty, having brought in about $30 million each.

Why weren’t audiences flocking to the new thriller of the weekend? Nikke Finke of Deadline Hollywood Daily noted that the film was on its way to a #2 opening on Friday night, but dropped to #3 as West Coast audiences flocked back to Bradley Cooper & Company. “[Pelham] didn’t get as big a late-night kick as expected and fell to No. 3 where it stayed all weekend. Why anyone remade the classic 1974 film is inexplicable, especially in this CGI-heavy summer. (Now, if the subway turned into a Transformer…) Also, Travolta’s recent family tragedy meant the actor wasn’t able to promote the film … Sony now must depend on strong overseas sales for ’Pelham.'”

Another summer flop is Eddie Murphy’s “Imagine That,” which continued to falter at #6, managing to bring in only $5.7 million. Considering that kid movies are generally big business during the summer, it seems that audiences are getting tired of Murphy’s family-friendly offerings. Finke wonders why studios continue to hand him leading parts, noting that “it’s now a trend that Eddie’s movies can’t open to more than a $6M weekend. (Remember last summer’s other bomb “Meet Dave?”).”

Instead, families are buying more tickets for Disney/Pixar’s “Up,” which is looking to overtake last year’s “Wall-E” with a cumulative take of $187 million in just 3 weeks. The kiddies are also helping “Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian” hang in the top five, though it hasn’t done as well as its predecessor. The first “Museum” ended its box office reign at $250.9 million, according to Box Office Mojo.

With a four week take of $143 million, “Smithsonian” has been a bigger success than the recent grown-up summer offerings. “Terminator: Salvation” has only walked away with $114 million, “Angels and Demons” was blessed with only $123 million. It’s really proving to be a cruel summer for a lot of studios as their big-budget offerings falter and fall by their first week.

MTV readers, which did you pick: “Up,” “The Hangover” or “Pelham”? Care to hazard any guesses at what’s causing this spate of late-spring/early-summer flops?