Horror spoof holds off Disney's 'Brother'

This article was updated at 7:53 p.m.

Miramax/Dimension’s horror spoof “Scary Movie 3″ repeated atop the box office this weekend, grossing an estimated $21.1 million despite a frightful 56% plunge from opening-frame grosses.

Disney’s traditionally animated family pic “Brother Bear,” which opened wide on Saturday due to Friday trick-or-treating, finished second with a sweet $18.5 million. A musical featuring songs by Phil Collins, “Bear” clawed a cume of $18.9 million due to bicoastal exclus a week earlier.

Sony Screen Gems’ suspenser “In the Cut” — broadened to a barely wide 825 theaters over its soph session — grabbed $2.3 million, good for a 10th place tie with MGM’s family laffer “Good Boy!”

Limited bows included Miramax’s high profile adaptation of Philip Roth’s bestseller “The Human Stain,” which grossed an estimated $1.1 million from 160 playdates. That repped a solid $7,025 per engagement with pic set for platformed expansion in coming weeks.

“We’re going to hold tight right now,” said Miramax chief operating officer Rick Sands. “Then we’re going to expand slowly over the next several weeks.”

‘Stain’ game plan

At present, “Stain” is playing in top-20 markets. “Where we were, the grosses were good,” Sands said.

Lions Gate unspooled fallen-journo pic “Shattered Glass” in a half-dozen L.A. locations and two in Gotham, grossing $80,000, or a notable $10,000 per site. Hayden Christensen starrer adds playdates in San Francisco, Chicago and Washington, D.C., on Friday.

Industrywide, the weekend’s $102 million in total estimated grossed amounted to a 14% decline from the same frame a year ago, according to B.O. tracker Nielsen EDI. Year-to-date, 2003 remains flat with a comparable portion of last year.

A couple mid-table perfs showed adult moviegoing remains a notable — though hardly driving — force in the marketplace.

20th Century Fox’s “Runaway Jury” and Warner Bros.’ “Mystic River” each enjoyed skimpy week-over-week declines of just 19% for three-day hauls of $6.9 million and $6.3 million in fifth and sixth places, respectively. “Jury” — the pricier production of the two — moved its cume to $33.7 million after three frames, while “River” wound to $33.6 million through a similar period in wide release.

Adult auds slow

“The audience for adult pictures creeps toward the theaters as slowly as the crippled headed for Lourdes,” an industry wag quipped. “But they do get there eventually.”

Elsewhere this weekend, Fox rung up an estimated $1 million from 347 playdates with its director’s cut re-release of Ridley Scott’s 1979 sci-fi classic “Alien.” That repped a middling screen average of $2,997 per venue but sets up homevid launch nicely. Wednesday bow shaped five-day cume of $1.3 million.

Rialto Pictures unspooled its re-release of 1959 horror classic “Eyes Without a Face” with exclus in Gotham, L.A. and Chicago, grossing an estimated $21,000, or $7,000 per engagement.

Sundance bowed horror spoof “Die, Mommy, Die!” in 10 locations and grossed $50,113, or $5,011 per site.

United Artists expanded laffer “Pieces of April” by 22 theaters for a total 57 and grossed $226,000, or $3,965 per venue with a $545,000 cume.

‘Elephant’ marching

And Fine Line/HBO drama “Elephant” added four engagements for a total 10 in grossing $60,000. Perf repped a notable $10,000 per playdate for a $197,000 cume with Gus Van Sant-helmed pic set for expansion to top 10 markets Friday.

Halloween is famously frightful for B.O., and execs are already scared witless about the prospect of trick-or-treating falling on a Saturday next year. This time around, “Scary 3″ absorbed a brutal 75% falloff in B.O. from its first Friday before rebounding with an amazing 130% Saturday climb to salvage its repeat perf at No. 1.

Mouse distribution boss Chuck Viane said he was happy to have held “Bear” until the ghouls and goblins were off the streets.

“When I witness the devastation of all the other movies, I know we did the right thing,” Viane said. “Our number was great and bodes really well. There’s some tremendous competition coming, so it was important that we got out there and got some good word of mouth started.”

A solid “Bear” run will help make last year’s dismal perf by traditional tooner “Treasure Planet” seem more anomalous and dispel rumblings of a death knell for 2D animation. Disney has a pair of traditional tooners set for 2004 — January’s relatively modest “Teacher’s Pet” and April’s more lavishly hand-drawn musical “Home on the Range.”

Some 85% of “Bear” patrons accompanied other family members. Co-directed by Aaron Blaise and Bob Walker, “Bear” was voiced by Joaquin Phoenix, Michael Clarke Duncan, Rick Moranis and others.

Making the “Cut”

Sony marketing and distrib topper Jeff Blake said the weekend numbers for Jane Campion-helmed “In the Cut” were only mildly disappointing, as Meg Ryan starrer was an inexpensive Screen Gems acquisition from producer Pathe.

“It played to sort of a discerning big-city market,” Blake said.

Meanwhile, Universal drew 78% capacity auds to 565 sneaks of Working Title’s holiday romancer “Love Actually.”

A big 78% of moviegoers rated pic “excellent.” Overall, 73% of “Love” moviegoers were over 30 and 68% femmes.

Richard Curtis penned-and-helmed pic, which stars Hugh Grant, Emma Thompson and others, unspools in limited release next weekend.

Two wide openers are set for the pre-Veteran’s Day frame. New Line bows its Christmas-themed laffer “Elf,” and Warner Bros./Village Roadshow sends out trilogy-completing “The Matrix Revolutions.”

High-profile second sequel in the action fantasy series is sure to dominate the market with its super-saturation release. So Will Farrell starrer “Elf” reps both a counter-programming ploy and an attempt to soak up any overflow attendance from sold-out “Matrix” screens.

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