'Flightplan' leads weak sesh; 'Capote' hot

Fall’s fast start slowed this weekend, as the frame’s new pics failed to fuel much aud enthusiasm. Walt Disney’s holdover “Flightplan” led the pack for a second week, scoring $15 million in its sophomore session and dipped a modest 39% from last week’s opening.

This is the time of year when Oscar-possible pics begin to emerge, but other than a strong of showing by Sony Pictures Classics’ “Capote,” which brought in a strong $348,978 from 12 screens in its opening (averaging a stout $29,082 per screen), few of the prestige pics seem to have yet caught traction with auds.

Behind the Jodie Foster plane thriller, the top new pic was Universal’s sci-fi title “Serenity,” which bowed at No. 2 with $10.1 million from 2,188 theaters.

At No. 3 was Warner Bros.’ “Tim Burton’s Corpse Bride,” with $9.8 million, down 49%. The stop-action pic has a cume of $32.9 million. It was followed at No. 4 by New Line’s wide expansion of the David Cronenberg-helmed and Viggo Mortensen-starring crime drama “A History of Violence,” which finished with $8.2 million from 1,340 venues. Other new wide releases finished lower down the chart, as Sony’s treasure hunt adventure “Into the Blue” came in at No. 4, posting $7 million while unspooling at 2,789 locations.

In ninth place, Disney’s historical golf drama “The Greatest Game Ever Played” started with $3.7 million from 1,014 engagements. Sony’s national break for “Oliver Twist” brought in just $875,000 from 779 screens, a weak average of $779 per screen. Cume on helmer Roman Polanski’s take on the Charles Dickens tale is now $1.1 million. Fox Searchlight’s roller rink period piece “Roll Bounce” took in $4 million in its second frame, down 47% and bringing cume to $12.7 million, and placing it at No. 8.

Meanwhile, at No. 10, U’s “The 40-Year-Old Virgin” became the 13th pic of the year to cross the $100 million mark, grossing $3.1 million over the weekend to put its cume at $101.4 million.

Overall, Nielsen EDI estimates the weekend at $92 million, which is 18% lower than the frame in 2004, when the openings of “Shark Tale” and “Ladder 49″ combined for $69.7 million.

Still, the fall season is still running ahead of last year’s, with the $453 million in total receipts so far 7.7% ahead of last year’s figures through this point.

Still behind 2004

For the year, total box office is still down, though the gap continues to narrow. Year-to-date, $6.479 billion worth of tickets have been sold, compared with $6.934 billion through this point last year. While the grosses of “Serenity,” which is based on Joss Whedon’s short-lived skein “Firefly,” suggest it didn’t reach auds beyond sci-fi fans, U distrib prexy Nikki Rocco said aud ratings suggest it could still grow.

“I’m very happy the Cinema Score was an A, and maybe that bodes well for a good hold and good word of mouth that will help broaden the audience beyond its core fan base,” Rocco said.

Exit surveys showed the aud skewed male, with 61% men and 39% women.

Polls also found that the aud was a bit older, with 52% over the age of 30.

‘Blue’ finds youth

“Into the Blue,” meanwhile, appeared to be the choice of a younger crowd, as exit surveys showed that 71% of the aud was under age 25, Sony distrib topper Rory Bruer said. Aud was nearly evenly split between men and women.

“It’s within the region we thought it would open,” he said.

Small fare

In the limited arena, Fox’s release of the New Regency pic “Little Manhattan” was off to a promising start with $38,241. The romantic comedy that is the helming debut for Mark Levin played just two Manhattan screens, for an average of $19,121 per engagement. Also unspooling was Destination Films and Samuel Goldwyn’s “Mirrormask,” which hauled in $126,900 from 18 screens for a screen average of $7,050.

DreamWorks’ Juliann Moore-starring “The Prize Winner of Defiance, Ohio” bowed at 41 screens and grossed $155,000 for an average of $3,780. Miramax’s “Proof” expanded to 240 screens and brought in $1.18 million, which gave it an average of $4,940 per screen and lifted cume to $2.5 million.

Label’s “An Unfinished Life” is struggling in its second week of wide release” as it grossed $1.1 million from 1,355 screens for an average of $805 per screen. The Richard Gere-Jennifer Lopez romancer helmed by Lasse Hallstrom has a cume of $7.5 million.

Warner Independent’s Elijah Wood-starring literary adaptation “Everything Is Illuminated” brought in $190,000 off 60 screens in its third weekend, an average of $3,167 per screen and pushing cume to $462,000.

Grosses on Fox Searchlight’s “Separate Lies” came to $77,700 in its third frame. Playing 25 screens, perf gave it a screen average of $3,109. Cume stands at $141,200.

And, in its 10th frame, Thinkfilm’s raunchy comedy doc “The Aristocrats” managed to edge past the $6 million mark with $84,250 from 95 screens.

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