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First Look: 'Shutter Island' a big hit with moviegoers

February 21, 2010 |  9:27 am

Martin Scorsese, Leonardo DiCaprio and a set of Gothic thrills proved to be a huge draw at the box office this weekend.

Shutter "Shutter Island," Paramount Pictures' psychological thriller based on Dennis Lehane's bestselling novel, will earn a studio-estimated $40.2 million domestically over the three-day period, good enough for the best-ever opening for both director Scorsese and star DiCaprio. Many box-office experts had predicted an opening in the low mid-30s, with any gross over $35 million considered a notable success.

The film was not inexpensive to produce, however. The story, set in 1954, of a New England detective (DiCaprio) investigating a mysterious disappearance at an island-bound insane asylum cost nearly $100 million to make, according to a person close to the production, although a Paramount spokesperson said that tax incentives from the state of Massachusetts, where the film was shot, lowered the cost to about $75 million.

The successful box-office opening validates Paramount's decision to move the release date for "Shutter Island" out of a crowded fall into a relatively sparse February.

-- Steven Zeitchik

Photo: Poster for "Shutter Island." Credit: Paramount Pictures