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'Jeepers Creepers 2' ruled the theaters

The horror flick edged out 'Freddy vs. Jason' and took in $18.5 million over the long weekend.

September 02, 2003|From Times staff and wire service reports

Horror held sway at theaters again as "Jeepers Creepers 2" sank its claws into audiences, premiering over the long Labor Day weekend as the top movie with an estimated $18.5 million Friday through Monday.

"Jeepers Creepers 2" knocked off another horror sequel, "Freddy vs. Jason," which had been the No. 1 movie for the previous two weekends. "Freddy vs. Jason" fell to No. 7 with $8.1 million, bringing its 17-day total to $73.4 million.

Summer ended with revenues up for the third straight weekend. The industry rang up $3.76 billion in ticket sales domestically from early May through Labor Day, about 2.2% ahead of last summer's record, according to box office tracking firm Nielsen EDI. Allowing for inflation, the number of tickets sold fell slightly.

Although revenues had slumped during the first half of summer, strong late-season movies helped Hollywood catch up to summer 2002's pace.

The summer was unprecedented, Nielsen EDI noted, in that every weekend grossed more than $100 million for all films. "That has never happened before," Dan Marks of EDI said.

The follow-up to 2001's horror mini-hit "Jeepers Creepers" did better business than the original's $15.8 million over Labor Day weekend two years ago.

"Jeepers Creepers 2" was the only new film in wide release.

Art-house films in limited release expanded to eager audiences. "American Splendor," starring Paul Giamatti as cult comic-book writer Harvey Pekar, widened to 88 theaters and took in a healthy $1.08 million.

The coming-of-age drama "Thirteen," featuring Holly Hunter as a single mother of a troubled teenage daughter, expanded to 73 theaters and grossed $800,000.

Four movies passed the $100-million mark over the weekend, bringing summer's total to 15 flicks hitting that mark, breaking summer 2002's record of 13.

Crossing $100 million were "S.W.A.T.," "Seabiscuit," "The Italian Job" and "Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle."

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