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`Grudge 2' Takes Hold of No. 1 at Box Office

The horror sequel gives Sony a record 12th top seller this year. Warner's `Departed' is No. 2.

October 16, 2006|Josh Friedman | Times Staff Writer

Friday the 13th proved to be an ideal launch date for "The Grudge 2," as Sony Pictures' horror sequel scared up an estimated $22 million over the weekend to lead the movie industry at the box office.

However, the picture opened at the low end of expectations and grossed 44% less than its predecessor two years ago, "The Grudge," based on Sunday's studio estimates.

The first movie, remade from a Japanese film, was a surprise smash that debuted at $39.1 million in the U.S. and Canada en route to a gross of $110.4 million during its full run.

The PG-13 sequel, starring Amber Tamblyn and Sarah Michelle Gellar, is unlikely to match its forerunner's ultimate box-office success. But it gave Sony a record 12th No. 1 film this year.

And considering the modest production budget of about $20 million, it looks sure to be profitable.

"This was the perfect vehicle for that visceral, group experience of being scared," said Rory Bruer, Sony's president of domestic distribution. "And what better day to put it out there?"

"The Grudge 2" racked up almost half its ticket sales Friday before falling off sharply. Still, its three-day per-theater average of $6,851 from 3,211 locations was the best in the top 10. Its audience, as expected, skewed young and tended to be female.

Last weekend's No. 1 movie, "The Departed," hung tough to place second for Warner Bros.

Martin Scorsese's acclaimed crime thriller, starring Jack Nicholson, Leonardo DiCaprio and Matt Damon, slipped 31% in its second weekend, grossing an estimated $18.7 million.

Buoyed also by strong midweek business, "The Departed" has grossed $56.6 million after 10 days. It could become Scorsese's second picture to top $100 million at the domestic box office, after the 2004 Howard Hughes biopic "The Aviator."

"Man of the Year," starring Robin Williams as a comedian who runs for president, met expectations with an estimated $12.6-million opening, taking No. 3. Fifty-five percent of the audience was female and 61% was over 30, said Nikki Rocco, Universal's president of domestic distribution.

Though the comedy, written and directed by Barry Levinson, has been coolly received by critics, Rocco said theater exit surveys showed generally positive responses, especially from older viewers. That could help the picture play well in the coming weeks, she said.

"Skewing older gives me encouragement," Rocco said. "Adult audiences take their sweet time, but they get there eventually."

Sony's animated animal tale "Open Season" continued to hold up well in its third weekend, placing fourth with a gross of $11 million. That brought cumulative ticket sales to $59.2 million.

New Line Cinema's horror prequel "Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning" fell from No. 2 to No. 5 in its second weekend, grossing $7.8 million. That was a 58% plunge from its debut, the steepest drop in the top 10.

"The Marine," starring pro wrestler John Cena as a returned Iraq war veteran trying to rescue his kidnapped wife, debuted at No. 6 for 20th Century Fox, meeting forecasts with a gross of $7 million. Fox's partner WWE Films has been producing action movies showcasing its personalities as WWE's parent company, World Wrestling Entertainment Inc., branches out.

Gener8xtion Entertainment Inc.'s biblical saga "One Night With the King," featuring Peter O'Toole and Omar Sharif, fared slightly better than expected, placing ninth with an estimated gross of $4.3 million.

Three holdover films, "The Guardian," "Employee of the Month" and "Jackass: Number Two" stayed in the top 10.

Among limited releases, Miramax's "The Queen," a political drama starring Helen Mirren, drew impressive business in the third week of its staggered rollout. The movie grossed $1 million from 46 theaters, averaging $22,174 per location.

Last year's sleeper hit "Capote," featuring an Oscar-winning performance by Philip Seymour Hoffman, appears to be casting a big shadow over Warner Independent Pictures' "Infamous," the latest telling of the Truman Capote story.

"Infamous" opened at $435,000 from 179 theaters, averaging $2,430 per location. Those are weak numbers for a positively reviewed film on the art-house circuit.

Industrywide, ticket sales were up from the comparable weekend in 2005 for the third time in a row. Year-to-date revenue is up 6.5%.

With studios gearing up for awards season, the competition for adult filmgoers intensifies.

Next weekend, Walt Disney Co.'s "The Prestige," a magician thriller from director Christopher Nolan, and Paramount Pictures' "Flags of Our Fathers," a World War II drama directed by Clint Eastwood, are expected to vie for the top spot. Sony's "Marie Antoinette" and Fox's family-oriented "Flicka" also open.

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josh.friedman@latimes.com

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Begin text of infobox

Box office

Preliminary results (in millions) in the U.S. and Canada, based on studio projections:

*--* Movie 3-day gross Total The Grudge 2 $22.0 $22.0

The Departed 18.7 56.6

Man of the Year 12.6 12.6

Open Season 11.0 59.2

Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning 7.8 30.5

The Marine 7.0 7.0

The Guardian 5.9 41.1

Employee of the Month 5.6 19.9

One Night With the King 4.3 4.3

Jackass: Number Two 3.3 68.4

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Industry totals

*--* 3-day gross Change (in millions) from 2005 $110.0 +25.3%

Year-to-date gross Change (in billions) from 2005 $7.37 +6.5%

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*--* Source: Exhibitor Relations Co. Los Angeles Times

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