The Warner Bros. tale of revenge transcended gender, appealing to older women as well as men who might naturally be expected to enjoy the violent, R-rated film.
"Revenge movies often appeal to men, but the fact that Jodie Foster was in it brought in the women," said Paul Dergarabedian, president of box-office tracker Media By Numbers. "That combination worked."
While the film's box office take was fairly modest, it is about right for this transition time of year between the summer blockbuster season and the fall Oscar push. The Warner Bros. film displaced last week's box-office winner, "3:10 to Yuma," which placed second with $9.2 million in ticket sales.
"After the summer, your midweek business drops substantially and you become a weekend business," said Dan Fellman, head of distribution at Warner Bros. "You need strong reviews to keep your motor going."
Fellman said the film should stand up well against the more youth-oriented films that will fight for the top spot next weekend - "Good Luck Chuck" and "Resident Evil."
Three smaller films hoping to build Oscar buzz finished out of the top 10 over the weekend, but did well in limited release.
The David Cronenberg crime thriller "Eastern Promises," had an impressive per-screen average of $36,845 playing on 15 screens. The movie, about Russian mobsters in London, stars Viggo Mortensen and Naomi Watts.
Also opening well was "Across the Universe," the Julie Taymor film inspired by music from The Beatles.
The film, starring Evan Rachel Wood, earned $685,000 for a per-screen average of $29,783.
The Iraq war film "In the Valley of Elah," opened with $138,000 on nine screens for an average take of $15,333. The movie stars Tommy Lee Jones and Charlize Theron.
"We could be talking about all three of these films come Oscar time," Dergarabedian said. "The per-screen average indicates the intensity with which people are interested in these films and deservedly so. This is what the fall is all about."
Estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday at U.S. and Canadian theaters, according to Media By Numbers LLC. Final figures will be released Monday.
1. "The Brave One," $14 million.
2. "3:10 to Yuma," $9.2 million
3. "Mr. Woodcock," $9.1 million.
4. "Dragon Wars," $5.4 million.
5. "Superbad," $5.2 million.
6. "Halloween," $5 million.
7. "The Bourne Ultimatum," $4.2 million.
8. "Balls of Fury," $3.3 million.
9. "Rush Hour 3," $3.3 million.
10. "Mr. Bean's Holiday," $2.7 million.