Josh Rottenberg
April 19, 2009 AT 09:05 PM EDT

Fueled by a hefty dose of tweener love, Zac Efron’s 17 Again won this weekend’s box office sweepstakes without breaking a sweat. The high school time-warp comedy, which costars Matthew Perry and Leslie Mann, earned $24.1 million, according to studio estimates from the box office tracking firm Nielsen EDI.

The film’s haul marked another successful debut for Efron, who helped boost ticket sales with an appearance this weekend on Saturday Night Live. In 2007, the musical Hairspray, which co-starred Efron, opened at $27.5 million. Last year, Efron’s High School Musical 3: Senior Year bowed with $42 million, and while 17 Again may have fallen short of that mark, it still represents an auspicious maiden voyage for Efron’s post-Disney career. Despite the raft of critics who pooh-poohed the film, which received a 61% fresh rating on, audiences were more favorably inclined, giving it a strong A- CinemaScore.

Landing at No. 2, the Russell Crowe-Ben Affleck thriller State of Play pulled in $14.1 million. The film, which garnered generally positive reviews, is the latest of a string of adult-oriented dramas to lag at the box office, although its final tally actually came in somewhat higher than anticipated and was an improvement over the $12.9 million opening for Crowe’s last outing, last fall’s Body of Lies. While 17 Again mopped up moviegoers on the younger end of the age spectrum, a whopping 75% of State of Play‘s audience was over 35.

Holding steady at No. 3 for the second week in a row, Monsters vs. Aliens took in another $12.9 million. The film’s impressive performance in its fourth weekend brings the grand total for the animated kiddie flick to $162 million—the highest this year by a wide margin.

Hannah Montana: The Movie dropped 61% from its opening last weekend, but the Miley Cyrus starrer still proved strong enough for the No. 4 spot with $12.7 million, boosting its cumulative gross to $56.2 million.

Rounding out the top five, Fast & Furious still had plenty of gas in the tank, earning $12.3 million in its third weekend for an overall cume of $136.7 million. The same, however, can’t be said for the Jason Statham action flick Crank High Voltage, which sputtered into a distant sixth place with a decidedly low-voltage $6.5 million.

Overall box office was up for the fourth straight weekend, surging 21% over this same weekend last year. Recession? What recession?

More box office news:
Box Office Chart: Weekend’s top 10
’17 Again’ easily dominates the Friday box office with $9.5 million
Box Office Preview: Zac Efron’s ’17 Again’ aims for No. 1
Hannah Montana: The Movie’ wins the weekend
‘Fast & Furious’ shatters records with $72.5 mil weekend

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