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'The Wolverine' Claws Its Way to Top of Box Office

By Sandy Cohen

LOS ANGELES -- The Wolverine slashed monsters and minions to debut atop the weekend box office.

The Fox (FOX) film featuring Hugh Jackman's sixth turn as the claw-wielding superhero opened with $55 million in North America, according to studio estimates Sunday.

Last weekend's top movie, Warner Bros.' (TWX) low-budget horror The Conjuring, slipped to second place, adding an additional $22.1 million to its take.

Despicable Me 2 was in third with $16 million. The Universal (CMCSA) animated sequel, with its cast of cute, yellow minions, has made more than $600 million worldwide since it came out four weeks ago.

The Wolverine, which is set in Japan and features an international cast, earned an additional $86.1 million overseas. The film's opening-week take surpassed the $120 million it cost to make, said Chris Aronson, Fox's head of domestic distribution.

"It's a huge opening for the clawed one," he said. "It played equally well from Maine to Maui."

Another Fox film, the animated snail-racing tale Turbo, was in fourth place with $13.3 million. Adam Sandler's Grown Ups 2 followed with $11.5 million.

Woody Allen's latest, Blue Jasmine, enjoyed a stellar opening of its own, though on a much smaller scale. Starring Cate Blanchett, the film opened in just six theaters but still collected $612,767.

"It's one of the biggest opening per-theater averages ever for a non-animated film," said Paul Dergarabedian of box-office tracker Hollywood.com.

Ticket sales this weekend were up almost 30 percent over the same weekend last summer, he said.

"It was a good weekend to be a moviegoer because the choices just got a lot more interesting," Dergarabedian said, noting a mix that includes animated, independent and big-budget action offerings.

Fruitvale Station, the Sundance winner already generating Oscar buzz, expanded to theaters across the country and edged its way into the top 10, contributing to a summer box office that is up more than 10 percent over last year.

Copyright 2011 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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