The Heat' soars at box office but 'Monsters' rule

This publicity photo released by Twentieth Century Fox shows Melissa McCarthy, left, as Detective Shannon Mullins, and Sandra Bullock as FBI Special Agent Sarah Ashburn, in a scene from the film, 'The Heat.' The movie releases June 28, 2013. (AP Photo/Twentieth Century Fox, Gemma La Mana)

This publicity photo released by Twentieth Century Fox shows Melissa McCarthy, left, as Detective Shannon Mullins, and Sandra Bullock as FBI Special Agent Sarah Ashburn, in a scene from the film, "The Heat." The movie releases June 28, 2013. (AP Photo/Twentieth Century Fox, Gemma La Mana)

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy brought "The Heat" against Channing Tatum and Jamie Foxx at the box office.

The Fox action-comedy starring the funny ladies as mismatched detectives earned $40 million in second place in its opening weekend, topping the $25.7 million debut haul of Sony's "White House Down," according to studio estimates Sunday.

The Disney-Pixar animated prequel "Monsters University" remained box-office valedictorian in its second weekend, earning $46.1 million in first place.

As for "The Heat," employing two female leads to buck the male-dominated buddy-cop formula paid off in ticket sales.

"I think the fact that we have a female-centric movie standing out in a forest of giant tent-pole movies is phenomenal," said Chris Aronson, Fox's president of domestic distribution. "Audiences really responded. We positioned this to be a female event movie, and we got the opening that we were hoping for this weekend."

"White House Down," which features Tatum as a wannabe Secret Service agent and Foxx as the President of the United States of America, was inaugurated below expectations in fourth place. The film's White House takeover plot is striking similar to FilmDistrict's "Olympus Has Fallen," which opened in March and starred Gerard Butler and Aaron Eckhart.

"It turned out to be a very competitive weekend," said Rory Bruer, Sony's president of worldwide distribution. "We had hoped `White House Down' did better, just from the standpoint that we love this film, but I feel very hopeful that with the July 4th holiday coming up, it will be the perfect film for audiences, and it'll really add up for us."

Meanwhile, Paramount's globe-trotting zombie thriller "World War Z" starring Brad Pitt took another bite out of the box office in its second weekend with $29.8 million.

"I think the variety of films is what brought people out to the movie theaters," said Paul Dergarabedian, an analyst for box-office tracker Hollywood.com. "There's a G-rated movie at the top of the chart and an R-rated movie in second place. That says a lot about the summer marketplace and how a unique slate of films can propel the box office."

Overall, Dergarabedian said revenue and attendance are now both down just 2 percent over last year, and this weekend's films grossed 8.5 percent less than last year when Universal's "Ted" opened with $54.4 million at the box office. He said those numbers could shift further next week when Disney's "The Lone Ranger" and Universal's "Despicable Me 2" debut.

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Estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday at U.S. and Canadian theaters, according to Hollywood.com. Where available, latest international numbers are also included. Final domestic figures will be released on Monday.

1. "Monsters University," $46.1 million.

2. "The Heat," $40 million.

3. "World War Z," $29.8 million.

4. "White House Down," $25.7 million.

5. "Man of Steel," $20.8 million.

6. "This Is the End," $8.7 million.

7. "Now You See Me," $5.5 million.

8. "Fast & Furious 6," $2.4 million.

9. "Star Trek: Into Darkness," $2 million.

10. "The Internship," $1.4 million.

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Universal and Focus are owned by NBC Universal, a unit of Comcast Corp.; Sony, Columbia, Sony Screen Gems and Sony Pictures Classics are units of Sony Corp.; Paramount is owned by Viacom Inc.; Disney, Pixar and Marvel are owned by The Walt Disney Co.; Miramax is owned by Filmyard Holdings LLC; 20th Century Fox and Fox Searchlight are owned by News Corp.; Warner Bros. and New Line are units of Time Warner Inc.; MGM is owned by a group of former creditors including Highland Capital, Anchorage Advisors and Carl Icahn; Lionsgate is owned by Lions Gate Entertainment Corp.; IFC is owned by AMC Networks Inc.; Rogue is owned by Relativity Media LLC.

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