‘Sea’s’ B.O. takes bite out of ‘Haunting’

'Runaway,' 'Blair' could also put scare in No. 1's take

Warner Bros. and Village Roadshow’s shark actioner “Deep Blue Sea” dove into the marketplace Wednesday with an OK $3 million in 2,612 tanks, landing it in second place for the day behind DreamWorks’ “The Haunting.”

The haunted house pic remained in the No. 1 spot with $3.3 million, but was clearly hurt by the entrance of “Sea,” which expands into 2,854 sites today. Buena Vista’s “Inspector Gadget” slipped into third place with $2.8 million.

“Deep Blue Sea” did best in larger urban markets; the R pic was outgunned handily by the PG-13 “Haunting” in smaller towns.

“Our big publicity kick gets into those areas starting this weekend,” said Warner Bros. distribution president Dan Fellman, who said he was pleased with Wednesday’s results.

Normally, a $3 million Wednesday opening would translate to roughly $15 million for the three-day weekend. However, exit surveys indicate auds are reacting positively to “Sea,” so grosses may be buoyed by word of mouth.

Still, the $60 million Renny Harlin-helmed pic will have to fight for moviegoers’ attention with Paramount and Lakeshore’s “Runaway Bride,” which bows today in 3,158 theaters, and Artisan’s “The Blair Witch Project,” which expands into 1,101 sites.

These two films are likely to further erode “Haunting’s” grossing power as well.

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