‘Departed’ arrives

Widest bow ever for a Scorsese pic

Columbus Day weekend is usually friendly to family pics, but it’s the very grown-up “The Departed” and “Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning” that look to have the inside track this weekend.

Martin Scorsese’s latest is bowing on 3,017 screens — the most ever for the filmmaker — as the frame’s widest rollout.

New Line’s latest installment in its “Chainsaw” franchise has drawn strong interest from the under-25 crowd and will hit 2,820 playdates.

The school holiday on Monday, meanwhile, bodes well for Sony’s CG animated holdover “Open Season,” the No. 1 pic last frame. A year ago, DreamWorks’ animated “Wallace and Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit” was able to take the top spot thanks to the added availability of family auds Sunday.

Lionsgate’s PG-13 Jessica Simpson starrer “Employee of the Month” also could enjoy a bump from the holiday weekend, as could Disney’s holdover “The Guardian.”

Scorsese’s latest should pack a decent punch with a cast that includes Jack Nicholson, Matt Damon, Mark Wahlberg and Leonardo DiCaprio, although pics by the auteur do not usually open to socko numbers: Scorsese’s edgy material — from “Goodfellas” to “Gangs of New York” — historically has appealed to urban auds but can have trouble connecting outside the big cities.

Only one Scorsese pic has ever cracked $10 million in its opening frame — the 1991 remake “Cape Fear,” which went on to gross $79 million for Universal. And only one Scorsese pic has ever topped $100 million, Miramax’s “The Aviator,” also starring DiCaprio.

Three years ago, the initial “Texas Chainsaw Massacre” remake nailed down a surprise No. 1 opening, bowing to over $28 million on the Oct. 19 frame.

But this time around, “Massacre” is one of a spate of pics aiming at young males and flooding the fall sked: Holdovers “Jackass Number Two,” “School for Scoundrels” and “Jet Li’s Fearless” will be looking to take a similar slice of the pie.

In 2003, “Massacre” had to knock off Quentin Tarantino’s “Kill Bill: Vol. 1,” in its second frame, but otherwise had little to no competish in the genre vein.

Studio distribution pros point to data suggesting that this year, 45% of schoolkids will be out of classes on Monday.

“No one thinks of Columbus Day as meaning anything,” Disney head of distribution Chuck Viane said. “But in the scheme of things, there are no (school) holidays between September and Columbus Day. And it really does add to your box office.

Execs say the holiday also adds significant biz to Sunday’s take: Where a family pic might usually draw 6%-7% of its B.O. on Sunday, since parents and kids eschew evening shows, Columbus Day off means a pic can do up to 11% of its biz on Sunday.

Away from the major studio releases, the specialty sector will get particularly crowded from here on in as fall leads into awards season.

Miramax’s “The Queen,” Fox Searchlight’s “The Last King of Scotland” and Warner Independent’s “The Science of Sleep” — as well as the Yari Group’s long-legged “The Illusionist” and Searchlight’s “Little Miss Sunshine” — have all been playing to high per-screen averages.

Also entering the frame’s fray will be New Line’s “Little Children,” starring Kate Winslet and Jennifer Connelly and opening in limited release.

John Cameron Mitchell’s sexually explicit “Shortbus,” which enjoyed a warm reception on the fest circuit this year and has largely avoided courting controversy, bows on both coasts. Pic should enjoy a strong run with gay auds and Mitchell’s fan faithful.

On the foreign front, distribs are opting for gradual release patterns as they lean toward adult fare. “The Departed” will launch day-and-date in the U.K., Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Thailand.

UIP’s “World Trade Center” looks to repeat last weekend’s victory via an expansion into Australia, Eastern Europe, Japan, New Zealand, Singapore and Scandinavia. “WTC” has cumed $26.5 million from 18 offshore markets, led by $4.5 million in France and $4.4 million in the U.K., and had grossed $96 million worldwide as of Wednesday.

Sony’s expanding “Click” into France, Portugal and French-speaking Switzerland; comedy’s opening day in France on Wednesday saw moderate biz with about $100,000 at 234 playdates. “Click” has totaled $63.5 million overseas from 52 markets and should easily surpass “Fifty First Dates” at $75.5 million as the top foreign grosser among Adam Sandler pics.

German thriller “Perfume: The Story of a Murderer” remains an impressive performer in European markets, hitting the $50 million mark Wednesday from half a dozen markets for Constantin/Summit. German cume for “Perfume” is about $30 million after three weeks; its opening day in France on Wednesday led that market with about $320,000 at 479.

Fox’s “The Devil Wears Prada” also goes wider this frame via launches in Russia, Spain and the U.K., a week after opening respectably in Australia and France. Offshore cume for “Prada” has gone past $20 million; worldwide is nearing $150 million.

Other openings include UIP’s “Accepted” in the U.K., UIP’s “The Barnyard” in Australia and Germany, Fox’s “Garfield: A Tale of Two Kitties” in Japan, UIP’s “Jackass Number Two” in Holland, UIP’s “Miami Vice” in Italy, Sony’s “Open Season” in Latin America and Holland, “Snakes on a Plane” in South Korea and Spain and “Step Up” in Germany.

“Miami Vice” has cumed $89 million overseas and $152 million worldwide; “Snakes” has $22 million offshore and $56 million worldwide.

(Dave McNary contributed to this report.)

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