Movie fans were into "He's Just Not That Into You" as the ensemble romance got a jump on Valentine's Day to lead the weekend box office with a $27.5 million debut, according to studio estimates Sunday.
The movie whose cast includes Jennifer Aniston, Scarlett Johansson, Ben Affleck, Drew Barrymore and Jennifer Connelly knocked off the previous weekend's top flick, the abduction thriller "Taken," which dropped to second place with $20.3 million.
With Valentine's Day falling in the middle of next weekend, the movie released by the Warner Bros. banner New Line Cinema is positioned for another solid showing, said Dan Fellman, head of distribution for Warner Bros.
"We're really walking into a terrific weekend. The biggest bump you can ever get for a romantic comedy is when Valentine's Day falls on a Saturday," Fellman said. "We'll see the girls, female power, drag the guys back in next Saturday."
"Taken," distributed by 20th Century Fox, raised its 10-day total to $53.4 million, its second-weekend gross dropping just 18 percent from its debut. Top films often can drop 50 percent or more in their second weekend.
Steve Martin's Inspector Clouseau bumbled through the weekend as "The Pink Panther 2" turned in a so-so $12 million debut to finish at No. 4. The Sony-MGM sequel came in well behind 2006's "The Pink Panther," which premiered with $20.2 million.
Hollywood continued its hot streak as the top 12 movies hauled in $131.4 million, up 46 percent from the same weekend last year, when the romantic comedy "Fool's Gold" was No. 1 with $21.6 million.
Overall revenues are just above $1.2 billion for the year and are running 19.4 percent ahead of 2008's, according to box-office tracker Media By Numbers.
"It seems like every film that's been opening has been doing better than expected, or many of them have," said Paul Dergarabedian, president of Media By Numbers. "I've not seen the start of a year this strong in my entire career."
Academy Awards front-runner "Slumdog Millionaire" continued to make good on its Oscar buzz, pulling in $7.4 million and raising its total to $77.4 million. The movie passed "Sideways" to take second-place on Fox Searchlight's list of highest-grossing films, behind "Juno" at $143 million.
In narrow release, the Weinstein Co. comedy "Fanboys" opened modestly with $164,000 in 44 theaters, averaging $3,727 a cinema. That compared to an $8,650 average in 3,175 theaters for "He's Just Not That Into You."