"Puss in Boots" scraped past the record box office for a Halloween weekend opening, but — like the other two movies that debuted Friday — opened to soft results.
Although DreamWorks Animation's "Puss in Boots" led the domestic box office, it grossed only $34 million, according to studio estimates. Studio CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg said last week he wanted the movie to open to at least $33.6 million, but box-office watchers outside DreamWorks widely expected the movie to take in more than $40 million.
And FilmDistrict's "The Rum Diary" bowed at No. 5, with an estimated $5 million.
Paramount's scary "Paranormal Activity 3" was No. 2 in its second week, dropping 65 percent since its premiere last week and grossing $18.5 million. Another Paramount holdover, "Footloose," took $5.4 million in its third weekend in release, putting it at No. 4.
An East Coast snowstorm clearly affected some markets, knocking out power to some 2.5 million households and businesses from Pennsylvania to New England. Conditions in New Jersey were so bad, Gov. Chris Christie declared a state of emergency.
But nationwide, the box office was up 8 percent compared to this time last year.
With $34 million, "Puss in Boots" just beat the box office record for a Halloween weekend. "Saw III" set the mark with $33.6 million in 2006.
The PG-rated movie, which had a budget estimated at $130 million, skewed female. Women and girls made up 59 percent of the audience. People younger than 25 made up 45 percent of the audience.
Hispanics made up 35 percent of the audience of the movie, which featured the voice of Antonio Banderas.
Those who turned out liked "Puss in Boots," giving it an "A-minus," according to moviegoer survey firm Cinemascore.
Anne Globe, DreamWorks Animation's chief marketing officer, told TheWrap Sunday that the weather "probably took a couple of million off the top. There were some theater closings, and just the threat of it gets people thinking about not going out."
In fact, she said, in parts of the country not affected by the snow, the movie saw tremendous increases between Friday and Saturday. In Los Angeles, audiences increased by 49 percent Friday to Saturday. In Dallas, they increased by 79 percent.
In New York, though, audiences increased by only 20 percent.
"The key really for us now is to maximize the pent-up demand at the box office going forward," Globe said. "Word-of-mouth looks to be very strong on the movie."
And she said the studio has long looked at a two-week opening strategy for "Puss in Boots."
Chris Miller's animated "Shrek" spinoff originally was set to be released Nov. 4, but Globe said DreamWorks saw an opportunity in Halloween.
"Halloween is on a Monday, and historically we have not seen family and kind of broad comedies come out on Halloween weekend — but why not?" she said.
The idea, she explained, was to avoid some of the competition that comes from holiday season family films.
"Because we moved the release earlier, we had always planned for a very aggressive kind of two-weekend launch," she said.
The movie opened at 3,952 locations.
Fox's "In Time," directed by Andrew Niccol, just missed expectations.
The sci-fi thriller was projected to take in between $13 million – $15 million, and grossed $12 million.
Chris Aronson, Fox's senior VP for domestic distribution, told TheWrap that there's "no question" the snow affected the movie's performance.
"Had the early storm not been there, our grosses would have been much higher," he said.
But he said that when poor weather comes along, audiences return.
"They'll come today if not next week," he said, noting the movie received a "B-minus" Cinemascore.
"In Time" appealed to both men and women equally, and skewed slightly older: People 25 and older made up 58 percent of the audience.
The PG-13 movie opened at 3,122 locations.
Of the three movies in wide release this weekend, "The Rum Diary" was the biggest disappointment.
FilmDistrict's movie starred Johnny Depp and is based on the novel by gonzo journalist Hunter S. Thompson.
FilmDistrict had expected the R-rated movie to gross between $9 million – $11 million on 2,272 screens. But Bruce Robinson's movie took in only $5 million.
In a written statement Sunday, FilmDistrict distribution chief Bob Berney said, "“While we all wish the numbers were better, we’re proud of the film and its loving tribute to Hunter S. Thompson."
Despite Depp, Aaron Eckhart, Amber Heard and Giovanni Ribisi, "The Rum Diary" had a moribund Cinemascore of "C."
In limited release, Sony's "Anonymous" played at 265 locations and grossed $1 million, for a per-location average of $3,774.
Sony had initially planned to open the movie wide this weekend, but chose instead to roll it out more slowly.
The movie, directed by Roland Emmerich, had an "A-" Cinemascore and appealed to an older audience, with 65 percent being 30 and older.
Also opening this weekend, Paramount's Sundance award-winner "Like Crazy," which opened at four locations and grossed $120,000 for an impressive $30,000-per-engagement average.
Here are the top 10 movies opening this weekend:
"Puss in Boots" ($34 million)
"Paranormal Activity 3" ($18.5 million)
"In Time" ($12 million)
"Footloose" ($5.4 million)
"The Rum Diary" ($5 million)
"Real Steel" ($4.7 million)
"The Three Museketeers" ($3.3 million)
"Ides of March" ($2.7 million)
"Moneyball" ($2.4 million)
"Courageous" ($1.8 million)