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Moviegoers line up for horror films; 'Final Destination' gets big 3-D boost

August 30, 2009 | 12:25 pm

FinalDest3 The battle of the horror films produced one big winner and no real losers this weekend.

"The Final Destination" landed at No. 1 with a healthy $28.3-million take, according to studio estimates."Halloween II" came in well behind, with $17.4 million. Although the latter film was on the low end of what tracking had indicated going into the weekend, neither movie bombed, indicating that the market was able to expand to accommodate two  horror flicks.

"Final Destination" was the weekend's success story, however, driven in large part by strong audience interest in 3-D.The movie's 1,678 theaters with at least one 3-D screen, 53% of the total, earned an average 3.25 times as much as those that played the movie in 2-D only. That's the highest such difference for any movie this year since "My Bloody Valentine" in January. All of the other 3-D films released since then have been aimed at families.

Though the ticket-price surcharge at 3-D theaters gave "The Final Destination" a boost, it wasn't enough to explain the movie's entire $10.9-million advantage over "Halloween II." More people came to see it, a fact reflected in the audience breakdown, which was 48% male. Based on pre-release audience polling, Warner Bros. had expected fewer men would turn out.

"The Final Destination," the fourth film in the series from Warner Bros.' New Line label, cost only $40 million to make. Even if takes a big drop next weekend, as horror films often do, it should end up grossing over $70 million, a solid performance and a sign that this likely isn't 't the final "Final Destination."

The Weinstein Co., meanwhile, spent only $15 million to produce "Halloween II," meaning its opening was solid as well. In good news for the indie studio, 46% of the audience was older than 25, compared to 40% for "Final Destination." Since older audiences are less likely to come out opening weekend, that's a sign "Halloween" might decline more slowly going forward.

Studio Co-Chairman Bob Weinstein seemed pleased enough, albeit jealous of the 3-D boost that "Final Destination" got. Weinstein said the studio is developing "Halloween 3-D" and hopes to release the film next summer.

The Weinstein Co. also had a good second weekend with "Inglourious Basterds," which declined a relatively modest 47% to $20 million, bringing its total domestic gross to $73.8 million. Universal Pictures, which TakingWoodstockco-owns the movie and is releasing it overseas, earned $19.1 million from foreign countries this weekend, bringing the international total to $59.1 million and worldwide ticket sales to $132.9 million, a very healthy figure given the movie's $70-million production budget.

The overall weekend was a great one for Hollywood, with total ticket sales up 39% from a year ago, according to Hollywood.com. The one major disappointment was Focus Features' "Taking Woodstock," which opened to just $3.7 million. The Ang Lee-directed movie cost nearly $30 million to produce.

Here are the top 10 movies at the domestic box office, according to studio estimates and Hollywood.com:

1. "The Final Destination" (Warner Bros./New Line): Opened to $28.3 million.

2. "Inglourious Basterds" (Weinstein Co./Universal): Dropped 47% on its second weekend to $20 million. Domestic total: $73.8 million.

3. "Halloween II" (Weinstein Co.): Earned a solid $17.4 million on its first weekend.

4. "District 9" (Sony/QED): $10.7 million, down 41% on its third weekend. Total ticket sales in the U.S. and Canada: $90.8 million.

5. "G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra" (Paramount/Spyglass): $8 million, a decline of only 34% on its fourth weekend. Domestic total: $132.4 million.

6. "Julie & Julia" (Sony): Declined a minuscule 16% on its fourth weekend to $7.4 million. $71 million total gross so far.

7. "The Time Traveler's Wife" (Warner Bros./New Line): $6.7 million, a drop of 31% on its third weekend. $48.2 million in domestic ticket sales to date.

8. "Shorts" (Warner Bros./MRC/Imagenation): $4.9 million, a drop of just 24% on its second weekend. Total ticket sales in the U.S. and Canada: $13.6 million.

9. "Taking Woodstock" (Focus Features): Opened to a very weak $3.7 million.

10. "G-Force" (Disney): $2.8 million, down 31% on its sixth weekend. Domestic total: $111.8 million.

-- Ben Fritz

Photos: Bobby Campo and Shantel VanSanten in "The Final Destination." Credit: Jim Sheldon / New Line Cinema. Kelli Garner, Demetri Martin, and Paul Dano in "Taking Woodstock." Credit: Ken Regan / Focus Features

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