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First look: 'Nightmare on Elm Street' a sweet dream with $32 million

May 2, 2010 |  9:02 am

Nightmare Another horror series got a new life at the box office this weekend as moviegoers in the U.S. and Canada bought a studio-estimated $32.2 million in tickets to see Freddy Krueger haunt teenagers' dreams again in "A Nightmare on Elm Street."

The relaunch of the 26-year-old franchise, which stars Jackie Earle Haley, didn't start as well as last year's similar new beginning for "Friday the 13th," which opened to $40.6 million in February. It did much better, however, than 2007's remake of "Halloween," which debuted to $26.4 million. And it's certainly a very good opening given its modest budget of about $35 million, financed by Warner Bros. label New Line Cinema.

The audience was evenly split between men and women and made up more of young horror fans than those with nostalgia for the 1984 original.

Horror films often fall off quickly on their second day at the box office, but the drop for "Nightmare" was particularly sizable, as the movie collected 33% less in gross receipts on Saturday than Friday. That's one of the largest-ever Friday-Saturday drops at the box office and is particularly significant given that Saturday wasn't a holiday and "Nightmare" didn't sell a huge number of tickets to midnight shows late Thursday night that threw off the comparison.

The last film to drop more on its second day without those factors was the Sacha Baron Cohen comedy "Bruno," which declined 39% on its second day. "Bruno" ticket sales went on to plummet 73% on the movie's second weekend, and "A Nightmare on Elm Street" is likely headed toward a similar freefall next weekend, particularly given that it will face enormous competition from "Iron Man 2."

Still, the movie will end up a success for New Line even if it ends up grossing around $60 million, less than two times its opening.

The only other new film to debut this weekend, the environment-themed family comedy "Furry Vengeance" starring Brendan Fraser, was about as popular as global warming. It took in a weak $6.5 million.

Summit Entertainment co-financed the movie with Participant Media and Imagenation Abu Dhabi for about $35 million but limited its expected losses somewhat through tax incentives and foreign pre-sales.

In limited release, the Nicole Holofcener-directed film "Please Give" opened to a healthy $128,696 at just five theaters, three in New York City and two in Los Angeles.

"Iron Man 2" opened overseas this weekend, but international grosses were not immediately available. [Update, 3 p.m.: "Iron Man 2" opened to $100.2 million from foreign countries. Details here.]

-- Ben Fritz

Photo: Jackie Earle Haley in "A Nightmare on Elm Street." Credit: Warner Bros.

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