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'Scary' Perfect For Halloween

Moviegoers were laughing all the way to the box office this Halloween weekend, as the horror movie spoof "Scary Movie 3" took in $21.1 million to remain the top film for the second straight weekend.

Disney's animated "Brother Bear," making its wide-release debut, finished second at $18.5 million, according to studio estimates released Sunday.

The haul for "Brother Bear" was only for Saturday and Sunday. After the movie premiered in two theaters the previous weekend, Disney chose to expand it into wide release on Saturday rather than the traditional Friday, which was Halloween, typically a slow night at theaters.

"Halloween has grown and become such a family experience that we chose not to compete with that on Friday," said Disney head of distribution Chuck Viane.

Studios reported a big across-the-board slump in ticket sales Friday because of Halloween, with only horror flicks such as "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre" holding up well that night.

"Halloween night has become like Christmas Eve," said Tom Sherak, a partner in Revolution Studios, whose feel-good drama "Radio" came in at No. 4 with $10.2 million.

The overall box office slumped, with the top 12 movies taking in $91.9 million, down 9 percent from the same weekend last year.

The quiet weekend was the calm before the storm as theaters prepare for an onslaught with Wednesday's debut of "The Matrix Revolutions," the final installment of the Wachowski brothers' sci-fi saga.

The franchise's middle chapter, "The Matrix Reloaded," had an opening weekend of $91.8 million last May, the best debut ever for an R-rated movie.

"Scary Movie 3" pushed its 10-day total to $78.6 million, surpassing the $71.3 million gross of "Scary Movie 2" over its entire run. The original "Scary Movie" topped out at $157 million.

Playing in 3,505 theaters, "Scary Movie 3" averaged $6,020 from Friday to Sunday. For its two-day weekend in wide-release, "Brother Bear" averaged $6,119 in 3,030 theaters.

Meg Ryan's murder thriller "In the Cut," directed by Jane Campion, expanded to wider release after a limited debut the previous weekend. "In the Cut" came in at No. 10 with $2.3 million, averaging $2,788 in 825 theaters.

"The Human Stain," starring Anthony Hopkins and Nicole Kidman in an adaptation of Philip Roth's novel, opened in 160 theaters and took in a solid $1.1 million for an average of $7,025 a cinema.

"Alien: The Director's Cut," Ridley Scott's new version of his 1979 sci-fi horror flick, debuted with $1.04 million, averaging $2,997 in 347 theaters.

"Shattered Glass" - starring Hayden Christensen as Stephen Glass, The New Republic journalist fired for fabricating stories - debuted well with $80,000 in eight theaters.

As it did last year with "The Santa Clause 2," Disney slipped "Brother Bear" into theaters to beat the rush of family films that arrive for the holidays. Next weekend brings the Christmas comedy "Elf," while "Dr. Seuss' the Cat in the Hat," "Looney Tunes: Back in Action" and "The Haunted Mansion" debut later in November.

"'Brother Bear' totally capitalized on a marketplace devoid of family films," said Paul Dergarabedian, president of box-office tracker Exhibitor Relations. "There's always an opportunity where there's a scarcity of product for a particular segment of the audience."

Estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday at North American theaters, according to Exhibitor Relations Co. Inc.

  1. "Scary Movie 3," $21.1 million.
  2. "Brother Bear," $18.5 million.
  3. "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre," $10.9 million.
  4. "Radio," $10.2 million.
  5. "Runaway Jury," $6.9 million.
  6. "Mystic River," $6.3 million.
  7. "Kill Bill - Vol. 1," $4.7 million.
  8. "The School of Rock," $4.4 million.
  9. "Intolerable Cruelty," $2.7 million.
  10. "In the Cut," $2.3 million.

By David Germain