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'The Final Destination' wins duel with 'Halloween II'

The horror movie is No. 1, taking in an estimated $28.3 million in the U.S. and Canada, largely from moviegoers who paid extra to see the film in 3-D. 'Inglourious Basterds' is No. 2.

August 31, 2009|Ben Fritz

Two horror movies weren't too much to handle this weekend as "The Final Destination" proved a winner at the box office and "Halloween II" came in just a bit below expectations.

The only bust was "Taking Woodstock," from Universal Pictures' specialty films unit Focus Features. The Ang Lee-directed look-back at the 1969 music festival cost nearly $30 million to produce but opened at ninth place with a weak $3.7 million in receipts.

"The Final Destination," from Warner Bros.' New Line label, was No. 1 with an estimated $28.3 million worth of tickets sold in the U.S. and Canada, boosted by sales at pricier 3-D screens.

Weinstein Co.'s "Halloween II," meanwhile, landed at No. 3 with a solid $17.4 million. Each movie had been expected to take in close to $20 million based on pre-release audience polling.

"Inglourious Basterds" declined a relatively modest 47% on its second weekend to $20 million, good enough for second place. Combined with the $19 million it grossed overseas, the Quentin Tarantino-directed drama has garnered $132.9 million worldwide in just 10 days, a strong showing given its production budget of about $70 million and good news for the two studios behind it, Universal and financially strapped Weinstein Co.

Although "Final Destination" and "Halloween II" would undoubtedly have done better without the other around, neither bombed in the rare face-off of two horror movies opening simultaneously.

"It's inevitable and regrettable without a doubt," Weinstein Co. co-Chairman Bob Weinstein said of the competition. "We're happy the picture did as [well] as it did."

Weinstein Co. wanted to open "Halloween II" close to the two-year anniversary of the successful debut of the first movie, which relaunched the series that began with 1978's "Halloween." After Warner Bros. in March moved "Final Destination" to Aug. 28, the independent studio couldn't find a better opening day for its picture. It didn't want to compete against summer tent poles, and there are a slew of other horror films due out this fall.

Warner Bros., meanwhile, picked this weekend to maximize the number of 3-D theaters for "Final Destination." It got nearly all those available in the U.S. and Canada by launching in the month between July's "G-Force" and "Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs," which opens Sept. 18.

It proved a smart choice because 53% of 3-D houses playing "Final Destination" accounted for 70% of the movie's gross sales. With more moviegoers paying $2 to $3 extra to watch the movie in 3-D, "Final Destination" brought in 3.25 times more in 3-D theaters than it did in regular locations. That's the highest such multiple for the opening of any 3-D film this year since the January horror flick "My Bloody Valentine." All of the 3-D films released since then have been aimed at families.

"Older audiences turn out to be more specifically interested in 3-D when they have the option," said Jeff Goldstein, Warner's executive vice president of distribution.

"Final Destination" was the fourth entry in the series and had a significantly bigger opening than any of its predecessors, a sign that this probably won't be the final "Final Destination." The movie cost $40 million to produce.

"Halloween II" cost only $15 million to produce. Studios typically keep about half of a movie's box-office receipts, then make more from DVD and other post-theatrical markets.

Weinstein Co. is already thinking about the future of the horror series and taking a page from "Final Destination." Bob Weinstein said that development was underway for "Halloween 3-D," which he hopes to release next summer.

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ben.fritz@latimes.com

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BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX

*--* Estimated sales in the U.S. and Canada: Movie 3-day gross Percentage change from Total Days in release (stu (millions) last weekend (millions) dio) 1 The $28.3 NA $28.3 3 Fina l Dest inat ion (War ner Bros ./Ne w Line ) 2 Ingl $20 -47% $73.8 10 ouri ous Bast erds (Wei nste in Co./ Univ ersa l) 3 Hall $17.4 NA $17.4 3 owee n II (Wei nste in Co.) 4 Dist $10.7 -41% $90.8 17 rict 9 (Son y/QE D) 5 G.I. $8.0 -34% $132.4 24 Joe: The Rise of Cobra (Par amou nt/S pygl ass) 6 Juli $7.4 -16% $71 24 e & ; Juli a (Son y) 7 The $6.7 -31% $48.2 17 Time Trav eler 's Wife (War ner Bros ./Ne w Line ) 8 Shor $4.9 -24% $13.6 10 ts (War ner Bros ./ MRC/ Imag enat ion) 9 Taki $3.7 NA $3.8 5 ng Wood stoc k (Foc us) 10 G-Fo $2.8 -31% $111.8 38 rce (Dis ney) *--*

Industry totals

*--* 3-day gross Change Year-to-date gross Change (in millions) from 2008 (in billions) from 2008 $136.0 +39% $7.25 +7.5% *--*

*--* Sources: Times research and Hollywood.com Box Office Los Angeles Times *--*

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