By JEFF WILSON, Associated Press Writer
The comedy spoof "Epic Movie" debuted atop the box office as Oscar contenders got a bump in the first weekend since the Academy Award nominations were announced, according to studio and industry estimates Sunday.
"Epic Movie," which lampoons dozens of films, a few MTV shows and Paris Hilton, raked in $19.2 million. It was a cost-effective release for 20th Century Fox, which enjoyed a similar turnstile bonanza a year ago with the spoof "Date Movie."
"When you gross the first weekend almost what it costs to make, it is enormously successful. We're pleased," Fox executive Bert Livingston said of the Regency Productions film distributed by Fox.
"It seems these teen audiences have just this insatiable appetite for these spoofs," said Paul Dergarabedian, president of box-office tracker Media By Numbers. "They are economically sensible. It's just a license to make money for the studio."
Audiences also turned out for Universal Pictures' "Smokin' Aces," a violent, dark comedy about hit men converging on Lake Tahoe for the $1 million prize to assassinate magician Buddy "Aces" Israel. It opened in second place with $14.3 million.
"It's a very edgy, R-rated, hip and cool movie. It doesn't surprise me," Dergarabedian said.
In third place was Fox's everlasting "Night at the Museum," which took in another $9.5 million to boost its six-week total to $217 million. The new Jennifer Garner movie from Sony, "Catch and Release," was No. 4, and "Stomp the Yard" from Sony/Screen Gems was fifth.
Four Oscar nominated films followed: Paramount's "Dreamgirls" was No. 6, Sony's "The Pursuit of Happyness" was No. 7, "Pan's Labyrinth" from Picturehouse was No. 8 and Miramax's "The Queen" was No. 9.
Oscar aspirant "The Departed," which added 1,326 screens Friday, jumped from No. 35 last weekend to No. 12 with a $3 million take.
"Babel," another Academy Award nominee and Golden Globe winner, was 13th with $2.6 million, a 25 percent hike over the previous weekend.
"Obviously we're very enthused about the impact of the seven Academy Award nominations," Paramount Vantage executive Rob Schulze said of the "Babel" showing.