Fright has B.O. bite

'Grudge 2' bags $22m

Sony horror sequel “The Grudge 2” easily topped the weekend’s box office, taking in $22 million off 3,211 playdates for a per-screen average of $6,851.

But in the specialty sector, Warner Independent’s Truman Capote biopic “Infamous” seemed to have trouble distinguishing itself from last year’s “Capote.” Pic, which revisits largely the same period in the author’s life and his efforts to write “In Cold Blood,” took in $435,000 from 179 engagements for a per-playdate average of $2,430. “Capote” opened last September at just 12 engagements and grossed $491,807. With “The Grudge 2” at the top of the frame, the weekend was the second in a row to see an English-language remake of an Asian pic land at No. 1, following the last frame’s boffo bow of Martin Scorsese’s star-studded cop pic “The Departed.”

“Departed,” from Warner Bros., meanwhile, held well, slipping a scant 31% to land at No. 2.

“Departed” took in $18.6 million over the weekend after topping the charts last frame for Scorsese’s biggest opening ever. Pic is now on track to become the director’s biggest earner ever: Cume is $56.6 million after two frames.

Pic’s staying power spelled bad news for Universal’s presidential parody “Man of the Year.” While helmer Barry Levinson successfully mined politics for laughs with his earlier “Wag the Dog,” auds didn’t go for the mix this time around. Robin Williams starrer opened on 2,515 screens to take in just $12.5 million and a per-engagement average of $4,990.

Laffer’s auds were primarily older females, while older males chose “Departed,” which has been crossing over to younger auds with a cast that include Leonardo DiCaprio, Matt Damon and Mark Wahlberg.

Fox, meanwhile, bowed “The Marine,” which World Wrestling Entertainment pumped heavily because it stars grappler and sometime rapper John Cena. Pic played to $7 million from 2,545 screens to land in the top 10 with a per-playdate average of $2,745.

The success of the latest “Grudge” entry, meanwhile, spelled a steep dropoff for New Line’s latest installment in its “Texas Chainsaw Massacre” franchise, as latter fell 58% to land at No. 5. It added $7.7 million to its tally over the latest frame; cume is $30.2 million.

First remake in the “Grudge” series bowed a year ago to $39.1 million on its way to $110.3 million.

The latest installment gave Sony its 12th No. 1 finish of the year so far. The studio’s overall cume has hit $1.3 billion, and its CG-animated “Open Season” is also still in play.

That pic landed at No. 4, taking in $11 million to raise its cume to $59.1 million.

Lionsgate’s teen-skewing holdover “Employee of the Month” had a 51% drop at the hands of “Grudge,” to up its cume to $19.9 million in two frames. Disney’s Coast Guard drama “The Guardian” slid 31% in its third frame to bring cume to $41 million.

Overall biz dropped slightly, however, as compared to the last frame, when “Departed” ruled the roost. Cume of the top 10 pics hit $98 million as opposed to last weekend’s $98.3 million.

A year ago, the top 10 films earned just $66 million as “The Fog” topped the charts with a hazy $11 million bow.

In other new rollouts, the Gener8Xion label’s indie religious pic “One Night With the King” made a strong bow in just 909 markets. Pic landed $4.3 million to put it solidly in the top 10, just edging out Paramount’s heathen holdover “Jackass Number Two.”

“Night” distrib has previously handled other moderately successful biblically inspired fare, from “The Omega Code” to “Carman: The Champion.”

In the specialty sector, the $435,000 tally for “Infamous” was far off the pace of some other indie holdovers that are making decidedly strong runs heading into awards season.

Miramax’s “The Queen” had another socko showing, taking in $1.2 million off just 46 screens, with a per-playdate average of $22,174.

And Fox Searchlight’s “The Last King of Scotland” charged to another $605,000 off 104 screens for a per-engagement showing of $5,817. Cume is $1.2 million.

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