Newmarket’s release of "Death of a President" apparently drew a lot more interest from the press than the public, as the pic collected $281,778 in its opening weekend on some 143 screens. That was enough for a per screen average of $1,970. The pic generated loads of publicity for its scenario, a pseudo documentary that follows the assassination of President Bush, and several major theatre chains refused to screen it. Despite plenty of talk, though, it apparently had a tough time standing out in a crowded weekend of other controversial and issue oriented pics, not to mention mixed reviews and a pretty grim hypothetical plot. By the end of last week, attention had shifted to The Weinstein Co.’s Dixie Chicks doc "Shut Up and Sing" and the fallout from NBC’s decision not to air ads promoting the pic. Publicity stunt or not, it helped the movie draw $50,103 on four screens, for an average of $12,526. Tops was Paramount Vantage’s "Babel," which took in $389,351 on just seven screens for an average of $55,622.