Turns out it pays to be mean. The high-school comedy ''Mean Girls,'' starring Lindsay Lohan and Tina Fey, surpassed all expectations to open at No. 1 at the box office with $25 million, according to studio estimates.
Thanks to good reviews and Lohan's rising star power, ''Mean Girls'' impressively topped last week's debut of Jennifer Garner's ''13 Going on 30.'' The story of a new high school student who infiltrates the popular-girl clique obviously resonated with young girls, as the film was tracking very well with the under-25 female demographic.
Denzel Washington got pushed back to second place with his kidnapping thriller ''Man on Fire,'' which slipped only 33 percent to $15.2 million, bringing its two-week total to $44.5 million. But the arrival of ''Mean Girls'' meant that ''13 Going on 30'' took a huge hit, falling 53 percent to $10 million. After 10 days, it's earned $35.2 million.
The week's other new releases didn't fare nearly as well as ''Mean Girls.'' Julianne Moore and Pierce Brosnan's romance ''Laws of Attraction'' debuted with $7 million, while the cloning thriller ''Godsend'' (starring Greg Kinnear, Rebecca Romijn-Stamos, and Robert De Niro) was close behind with $6.9 million. And the long-delayed Jack Black/Ben Stiller comedy ''Envy'' only managed a $6.1 million opening. The biggest loser might be the golf drama ''Bobby Jones: Stroke of Genius,'' starring ''The Passion of the Christ'''s Jim Caviezel, which debuted with only $1.1 million, thanks to a per-theater average of only $861. Embarrassingly, ''The Passion,'' in its 10th weekend, did better, earning $1.4 million. Apparently people would rather play golf on the weekend than see a movie about it.