‘Season’ in the sun

Sony toon's $23 mil clips 'Guardian'

Sony Pictures Animation’s debut pic, “Open Season,” shot to No. 1 over the weekend, bringing in family auds to the tune of $23 million.

“Open” had been projected to be in a tighter battle for first place with Disney’s “The Guardian,” which came in well behind at $17.7 million. “Guardian” has taken an unusual approach to its ad campaign, touting its exit poll results as being some of the highest numbers in studio history.

PG-13 Coast Guard drama, starring Kevin Costner and Ashton Kutcher had a per-engagement average of $5,451 from 3,241 playdates.

CG-animated “Season” — about a domesticated grizzly bear forced back into the wild — hunted $6,001 per playdate from 3,833 screens. Pic, the frame’s widest new rollout, was a solid performer in a year that has seen some animated fare falling flatter than usual.

“This film is set in the fall, and it’s the beginning of hunting season in most of the country,” Sony Pictures Digital Entertainment prexy Yair Landau said of the decision to bow “Open” in late September. “Since we didn’t have an established brand, it was important for us to build awareness.”

Pic played well in Imax theaters, taking in around $1.4 million for a per-screen average of $22,000 off 65 playdates.

Biz overall bounced back with “Open Season,” “Guardian” and holdover “Jackass Number Two” in the mix: The top 10 pics combined hit $82.2 million, compared with last weekend’s $77.1 million; that’s much better than last year’s $71.4 million over the same weekend.

Paramount and MTV Films’ R-rated lowbrow prankster pic “Jackass” continued to lure young males after its No. 1 finish last frame to raise its cume to $51.4 million.

Pic had bowed above expectations at $29 million a week ago. It brought in another $14 million from 3,063 playdates in its soph sesh.

Second frame of success for “Jackass” spelled so-so news for the Weinstein Co. and MGM’s “School for Scoundrels,” the Billy Bob Thornton vehicle that had been aiming for a similar demo.

Despite access to a broader aud thanks to a PG-13 rating, “School” placed fourth, with $9.1 million from 3,004 theaters. Per-playdate average was $3,032.

“School” is being released by MGM for TWC.

Also aiming for male auds, “Jet Li’s Fearless,” from Focus Features’ genre label Rogue, kicked its way into fifth in its second frame.

Pic scored $4.7 million to raise its cume to $17.7 million.

Holdovers rounding out the top 10, in order, were Sony’s “Gridiron Gang,” the Yari Group’s “The Illusionist,” MGM and Electric Entertainment’s “Flyboys,” Universal’s “The Black Dahlia” and Fox Searchlight’s “Little Miss Sunshine.”

“Gridiron” took in another $4.5 million to raise its cume to $33.1 million in its third frame, while period piece “Flyboys” and Brian De Palma’s “Dahlia” both skidded down the charts. “Flyboys” has taken in $9.9 million in two frames, while “Dahlia,” in its third weekend, has cumed $20.6 million.

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