Warner-New Line's 3D film "The Final Destination" bolted strongly out of the gate on Friday and its projected to finish the weekend with a strong $28.3 million, according to studio estimates, ranking atop a domestic box office that featured four R-rated films in the top four.
"Destination's" 1,678 3D venues -- which made up nearly half of its total 3,121 engagements -- accounted for 70 percent of total box-office gross.
That easily beat the other debuting scarefest, Dimension's Rob Zombie-directed "Halloween II," which came in third with projected three-day total of $17.4 million.
Landing in the middle was "Inglourious Basterds," which held up well -- dropping $49% -- and grossed another $19.6 million. That brought its total to $73.3 million. Sony's $25 million sci-fi acquisition, the Peter Jackson-produced "District 9" finished in fourth place with another $10.7 million and is now up to $90.8 million.
The weekend's other studio premiere was Focus Feature's Ang Lee-directed "Taking Woodstock," which finished in ninth place with a projected weekend take of $3.8 million. The studio had predicted an opening of between $3 million to $5 million.
While the theme of the weekend is definitly death and dismemberment, the big story is "The Final Destination," which clearly defied tracking predictions that set it for the high teens to low 20s.
With 1,678 locations charging premium 3D ticket prices, the fourth "Destination" enjoyed by far its four-film, nine-year-old franchise's biggest opening, outpacing 2006's "Final Destination 3" (which opened to $19.2 million on the way to a $113.3 million global take) by more than $10 million.
The fourth installment was the most expensive to produce, $30 million, according to several execs at rival studios. But the franchise seems to be growing with each successive movie. The first film about young folks dying freakishly before their time, 2000's "Final Destination," opened to just $10 million.
For their part, Dimension and distributor Weinstein didn't come close to the $26.4 million opening they enjoyed in 2007 for their reboot of the 31-year-old "Halloween" franchise, which now spans eight films and countless awful onscreen murders. However, production costs on "Halloween II" came in at around $15 million, so don't look for ageless psychopath Mike Myers to end his killing spree anytime soon.
With total domestic box-office receipts coming in at around $122 million vs. about $100 million for the same weekend last year, this summer movie season will now officially finish by far as history's best in terms of revenue. And it's not over, with Labor Day falling on the late date of Sept. 7, and extending the season -- which began on May 1 -- by a full week.
Happily for studios that spent big on ambitious tentpoles, the extended summer season should bring them to profitability.
Parmount, for example, saw its "G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra" finish in fifth place this weekend, adding a projected three-day total of $8 million and bringing the $175 million action picture's four-week domestic stash to $132.4 million. Foreign receipts were at around $125 million going into the weekend.
Disney's Jerry Bruckheimer-produced CGI-live-action hybrid "G-Force," meanwhile, finished in 10th place six weeks after premiering, adding $2.8 million to a North American total that's now at $111.8 million. Internationally, Disney is going territory by territory with the 3D guinea-pig-themed movie and should easily match or exceed that total.
Fear and violence are ruling the box office.
And apparently, two horror films being released on the same weekend is not such a horrible idea, after all.
Warner/New Line's 3D "The Final Destination" is standing tall at the weekend box office, having grossed $10.9 million on Friday, according to studio estimates, exceeding prior industry tracking figures on the way to what looks like a $28 million weekend.
Like the "Final Destination" franchise's three other films featuring young folks dying prematurely in all manner of gruesome ways, this latest installment looks to be quite profitable, coming in with a $30 million production budget.
Meanwhile, the Weinstein Co./Dimension's Rob Zombie-directed "Halloween II" premiered to $7.5 million, putting the $15 million film on pace to meet tracking estimates with a projected $18 million weekend.
"The Final Destination" and "Halloween II competed on an essentially even screening field, with both infiltrating just over 3,000 venues. However, once again, 3D appears to have been a difference-maker, with the Warner title getting viewed with those funny, annoying glasses at 1,678 3D-equiped theaters.
One other studio film released this weekend, Focus Features' Ang Lee-directed "Taking Woodstock," finished in ninth place in limited release, taking in $1.2 million Friday on the way to an estimated $3.8 million weekend -- in line with the lower side of tracking estimates.
As for holdovers, the war and gore soldiered on.
In third position was Weinstein's Nazi-negating "Inglourious Basterds," which brought in another $5.9 million Friday -- a 59% drop from its premiere date a week prior -- putting the Quentin Tarantino-directed movie on the way to totaling an estimated $19.1 for the weekend.
Meanwhile, holding strong in fourth place Friday, Sony's uniquely dark sci-fi picture "District 9" -- which features crustation-like space aliens being shot and tortured, and humans going through rather gruesome genetic transformations -- brought in another $3 million. The Peter Jackson-produced film, which costs the studio $25 million to license, should finish the weekend with about $90 million in total domestic receipts.
And in fifth place, Paramount's "G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra" continued to justify its $175 million production costs. The popcorn film -- which features plenty of its own weapons use and gory mutation sequences -- scored another $2.3 million Friday and should finish the weekend at $132 million so far domestically. The film has grossed nearly $125 million so far internationally.
Here's how the top 10 shaped up:
The Final Destination $10.9m
Halloween II $7.5m
Inglourious Basterds $5.9m
District 9 $3m
G.I. Joe $2.3m
The Time Traveler's Wife $2.1
Julie & Julia $2.1m
Taking Woodstock $1.2m
What in the heck are they thinking?