Miley Cyrus proved that she remains the queen of preteenage girls, powering Walt Disney’s “Hannah Montana: The Movie” to first place over the weekend, with an estimated $34 million in tickets at North American theaters, breaking several minor box-office records.

The blockbuster television series “Hannah Montana” has been transformative for the Disney Channel, establishing it as home base for young girls. The show’s construct is now familiar around the world: a girl (Ms. Cyrus) is a dorky student by day and a pop sensation by night.

But the big screen is a different ballgame, one that Disney’s teenage stars often fail to conquer. “The Lizzie McGuire Movie,” staring Hilary Duff, sold a modest $17.3 million in tickets over its opening weekend in 2003. In February “Jonas Brothers: The 3D Concert Experience” severely underperformed expectations, opening to $12.5 million.

“Hannah Montana: The Movie,” directed by Peter Chelsom from a script by Dan Berendsen, became the best April showing in industry history for a Disney movie, and Friday’s opening of $17.3 million in ticket sales broke a record for a G-rated live-action film, according to Disney.

Overall, ticket sales for 2009 are up 17 percent compared with last year, according to Media by Numbers, a box-office tracking service; attendance is up 15 percent.

Second place at the weekend box office went to “Fast & Furious,” a reboot of the street-racing movie franchise from Universal Pictures that opened to an unexpectedly strong No. 1 last week. The movie sold an estimated $28.8 million in tickets over the weekend for a cumulative $118 million.

Monsters vs. Aliens,” from DreamWorks Animation, continued to show strength, landing in third place with an estimated $22.6 million in tickets for a new total of $141 million.

Source: The New York Times