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Slasher spoof is doing so well, it's 'Scary'

October 27, 2003|Lorenza Munoz | Times Staff Writer

Propelled by a youthful audience of both genders, "Scary Movie 3" opened with a record-slashing $49.7 million over the weekend, an October best, according to studio estimates released Sunday.

Its closest competitor, "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre," dropped 48%, not unusual for a horror movie, bringing in $14.7 million in its second weekend for a total of $51.2 million.

Opening in exclusive engagements to help foster word of mouth, Disney's animated family film "Brother Bear" opened to a strong $285,026 in two locations in Los Angeles and New York. That's a whopping $142,512 per venue. The film will open nationally Saturday -- skipping Friday to bypass Halloween night.

The third and highest-grossing installment of the "Scary Movie" franchise benefited from its PG-13 rating, expanding the pool of potential ticket-buyers to the under-17 crowd. Bob Weinstein, head of Dimension Films, the Miramax Films subsidiary responsible for the picture, said the company took a lesson from the "Austin Powers" movies, incorporating enough raunchiness to get a PG-13 rating while softening the humor enough to skirt an R. The first and second "Scary Movies" were both rated R. The previous October high was for "Red Dragon," which grossed $36.5 million in its opening last year.

"Scary Movie 3" also brought in its most diverse audience ever, Weinstein said, with people under 25 forming the majority, while some over 25 were enticed by guest appearances from old-timers like Leslie Nielsen -- a favorite among some boomers for his "Airplane!" and "Naked Gun" movies. In addition, appearances by popular performers like Queen Latifah, Macy Gray and Method Man helped expand the audience, said Weinstein.

"We expected to be No. 1 and in the 30s," said Weinstein, noting that the picture cost about $45 million to make and half as much again to market. "But this kind of number? No way. A lot worked in our favor." Miramax's other film this weekend, "Kill Bill Vol. I," dropped 51% from the weekend before. That film is now at No. 7, having grossed a total of $53.7 million since its opening three weeks ago.

The fact-based feel-good drama "Radio" tuned in an estimated $14 million -- a decent showing considering the large number of adult-oriented films in the market right now. Two other movies aimed at adults, "Runaway Jury" and "Mystic River," hung onto the fourth and fifth spots, respectively, after two and three weeks in the market. The films dropped only 29% and 27% from last weekend.

Considering that "Radio" cost about $40 million to market and more than $35 million to make, the film will need strong word of mouth to maintain momentum.

The film, which stars Cuba Gooding Jr. and Ed Harris, has played well in the South and Midwest and, according to Sony and Revolution, received very positive audience scores.

Sony's other, smaller film, "In the Cut," released through its Screen Gems genre unit, performed well in six locations in Los Angeles and New York. The erotic thriller starring Meg Ryan and directed by Jane Campion grossed $95,000 over the weekend and $128,000 since its release Wednesday. The film will expand to 800 theaters Friday.

Gus Van Sant's Columbine-inspired drama "Elephant" also did relatively well its first weekend. The film grossed $90,000 in six theaters, also in New York and Los Angeles. That movie will expand to more theaters Nov. 7.

This weekend's biggest disappointment from a studio perspective would have to be Paramount's "Beyond Borders" -- the latest Angelina Jolie film to flop. The movie brought in an estimated $2 million on 1,798 screens.

Business overall was up from last weekend and last year, as the top 10 films grossed an estimated $117.5 million -- a 17% increase from last weekend and a 44% rise from the comparable period last year, according to box office tracking firm Nielsen EDI Inc.

*

(Begin Text of Infobox)

Box Office

Preliminary results based on studio projections.

*--* Movie 3-day gross Total (millions)

*--*

*--* Scary Movie 3 $49.7 $49.7

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 14.7 51.2

Radio 14.0 14.0

Runaway Jury 8.4 24.0

Mystic River 7.6 24.6

School of Rock 6.5 63.4

Kill Bill Vol. 1 6.0 53.7

Good Boy! 4.9 31.9

Intolerable Cruelty 3.6 28.2

Under the Tuscan Sun 2.2 37.2

*--*

*

Source: Nielsen EDI Inc.

Los Angeles Times

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