Score one for the chicks. The romantic comedy ''How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days'' topped the action comedy ''Shanghai Knights'' to claim the No. 1 spot at the box office this weekend.
''How to Lose a Guy,'' starring Kate Hudson and Matthew McConaughey, premiered with $24.1 million, according to studio estimates. Its tally outperformed even the most optimistic expectations -- in fact, EW.com was one of the few prognosticators that predicted it would open at No. 1. And though its opening-weekend take is well shy of the romantic-comedy record of $35.7 million held by ''Sweet Home Alabama,'' it did top the $22.4 million debut of the recent surprise hit ''Save the Last Dance,'' which also featured a young female star, Julia Stiles. Paramount's aggressive marketing and release pattern (the film opened in almost 3,000 theaters) apparently counteracted against the horrible reviews the film received.
A bit behind in second place was the sequel ''Shanghai Knights,'' starring Jackie Chan and Owen Wilson, which debuted with a still-impressive $19.8 million. Chan's last entry, ''The Tuxedo,'' premiered last year with $15.1 million. In other words, when it comes to box office draws, Jennifer Love Hewitt is no Owen Wilson.
As expected, the award-winning musical ''Chicago'' expanded to third place with $10.7 million, bringing its total up to a razzle-dazzling $63.7 million. After this Tuesday's Oscar nominations, where ''Chicago'' could very well be the top nominee, the film should continue to soar past $100 million.
Last week's top two films rounded out the top five. The Al Pacino/Colin Farrell thriller ''The Recruit'' fell 42 percent to $9.5 million, while the horror sequel ''Final Destination 2'' slipped 46 percent to $8.7 million. That meant the new comedy ''Deliver Us From Eva'' opened outside the top five with $7.1 million. Perhaps audiences didn't realize that its star, James Todd Smith, was actually LL Cool J?