LOS ANGELES "Evan Almighty" did not live up to its name at the weekend box office in North America.
The most expensive comedy ever made -- with an official price tag of $175 million -- opened at No. 1 with an estimated three-day haul of $32.1 million, said distributor Universal Pictures on Sunday.
The opening for the comic take on the Noah's Ark story is one of the lowest this summer, a lucrative season when the studios tend to roll out sequels and movies with lots of special effects. New entries in the "Spider-Man," "Shrek" and "Pirates of the Caribbean" franchises have already set various records.
Not so with "Evan Almighty," a sequel of sorts to the 2003 Jim Carrey comedy "Bruce Almighty," which opened to $68 million during its first three days. The new film stars Steve Carell, who had a supporting role in the first one, long before he found fame with the TV series "The Office" and the 2005 hit comedy "The 40-Year-Old Virgin."
While no one expected "Evan Almighty" to reach the stratospheric levels of its predecessor, observers had predicted it would open in the mid-$30 million range, possibly breaking $40 million. Executives at rival studios said the film needed to break $50 million to have a shot of making money.
A spokeswoman at Universal said the opening was a few million dollars short of internal expectations, but she hoped that strong word of mouth would buoy business in the coming weeks. Universal is a unit of General Electric Co.'s NBC Universal Inc.