'Scary Movie 3' smashes records
LOS ANGELES, California (Reuters) -- With Halloween around the corner, the North American box office served up some hair-raising surprises over the weekend.
"Scary Movie 3," the latest entry in the spoof franchise, enjoyed a record-smashing No. 1 debut by selling a better-than-expected $49.7 million worth of tickets in its first three days, according to studio estimates issued on Sunday.
At the other end, Oscar-winner Angelina Jolie's career suffered another frightening free-fall as her latest movie, the war drama "Beyond Borders," opened at No. 11 with $2.0 million, at the lower end of sharply diminished expectations.
In the limited-release world, prospects seemed bullish for "Brother Bear," the Walt Disney Co. cartoon that opened in one theater each in New York and Los Angeles before its national rollout on November 1. The film earned $285,000, for a per-theater average of $142,500. By contrast, "Scary Movie 3" averaged a sterling $14,100, easily the highest in the top 10.
"Scary Movie 3" broke the record for an October release set last year when the Hannibal Lecter horror "Red Dragon" opened at No. 1 with $36.5 million.
It also sets a new record for Miramax Films, the Disney unit that released the film through its Dimension Films genre banner. Miramax's previous best was the first "Scary Movie," which opened with $42.4 million in 2000 and ended up with $160 million. The second film, released last year, opened with $20.5 million and finished with $71.3 million.
'Scary Movie 4' on the way
The latest film, directed by comedy veteran David Zucker ("Airplane!" and the "Naked Gun" series), features such actors as Anna Faris, Leslie Nielsen, George Carlin, Charlie Sheen and Queen Latifah. Budgeted at $45 million, it spoofs recent thrillers like "Signs," "The Ring" and "The Others."
"It's a laugh-fest," said Miramax co-chairman Bob Weinstein, who had hoped for an opening in the $30 million-$40 million range. "It's sorta like the perfect tonic. It hit right, y'know?"
Unlike the first two "Scary" movies, which were R-rated, the new one carried a less restrictive PG-13 tag, albeit with warnings of "pervasive crude and sexual humor, language, comic violence and drug references."
Weinstein said production on a fourth "Scary Movie" would begin in the first quarter with release set for later in 2004.
Last weekend's champion, "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre," slipped to No. 2 with $14.7 million, taking its 10-day total to $51.2 million. The remake of the cult horror film was released by New Line Cinema, which is a unit of Time Warner Inc. as is CNN.com.
The football drama "Radio," starring Ed Harris and Cuba Gooding Jr., opened at No. 3 with $14 million. It was released by Columbia Pictures, a unit of Sony Corp.
Jolie's second bomb
"Beyond Borders," in which Jolie plays an international aid worker, was released by Paramount Pictures, a unit of Viacom Inc. It marks the actress' second bomb this year after the "Lara Croft: Tomb Raider" sequel. Paramount had hoped for an opening in the $2 million-$5 million range, but the film's serious subject matter -- i.e. starving refugees -- was a problem.
The studio's financial risk was limited to prints and advertising, as the $35 million film was produced by Mandalay Pictures, a closely held firm headed by one-time Sony Pictures chief Peter Guber.
Rounding out the top five were the legal thriller "Runaway Jury" at No. 4 with $8.4 million, and director Clint Eastwood's crime drama "Mystic River" at No. 5 with $7.6 million.
"Runaway Jury," based on a John Grisham novel and starring Gene Hackman and Dustin Hoffman, has grossed $24 million after two weekends. It was released by 20th Century Fox, a unit of News Corp.'s Fox Entertainment Group Inc.
"Mystic River," which stars Sean Penn, Kevin Bacon and Tim Robbins, has earned $24.6 million after two weekends in wide release. It was released by Time Warner's Warner Bros. Pictures.
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