June 24, 2007 / 4:55 PM / 12 years ago

'Evan Almighty' cursed at box office

Cast member Steve Carell arrives at the premiere of "Evan Almighty" at Gibson Amphitheatre in Universal City, California, June 10, 2007. The movie opened at No. 1 with an estimated three-day haul of $32.1 million, said distributor Universal Pictures on June 24. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - “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.

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