'Scary' sequel nails $41 mil

“Scary Movie 4″ frightened away the competition while “The Wild” proved very docile.

Dimension and Miramax’s horror spoof sequel bowed to $41 million. While the opening was very strong — biggest ever on Easter weekend — franchise is losing a little steam. Despite the benefit of Good Friday matinees with most kids out of school, take was off 15% from the debut of “Scary Movie 3″ in October 2003.

Holiday couldn’t help Disney toon “The Wild,” which grossed a dismal $9.6 million.

Thanks largely to “Scary Movie 4″ and “Ice Age: The Meltdown,” 2006 box office is now 4% ahead of this point in 2005, according to Nielsen EDI. Last year’s spring was particularly weak, setting up more favorable comparisons year-to-year.

This weekend was up 46% compared with a year ago, when “The Amityville Horror” led with $23.5 million.

Lionsgate’s first Spanish-language pic, “La Mujer de mi Hermano,” opened with a so-so $1 million at 205 playdates, while “Hard Candy” did big business on two and “Friends With Money” stayed very strong in its second limited week.

“Scary Movie 4″ took $11,388 per play at 3,602 locations. Ticketbuyers were 72% under 25 and disproportionately African-American. Dimension topper Bob Weinstein said aud likely would have been even younger if not for the talent involved.

“The interesting thing is we expanded the audience a bit into the 25-49 range, which we wouldn’t have done otherwise, thanks to (co-star) Leslie Nielsen and (director) David Zucker’s crowd from the ‘Airplane!’ days,” he noted.

Bow was well ahead of the previous Easter weekend champ, “Panic Room,” which generated $30.1 million in 2002.

Weinstein Co.’s Dimension label and Miramax split rights on “Scary Movie” franchise following the corporate divorce. Dimension has domestic while the Disney division is handling foreign.

Bob Weinstein confirmed a fifth entry in the franchise is in development. Zucker is currently working on “Superhero!,” meaning “Scary Movie 5″ likely wouldn’t come until late 2007 at the earliest, unless projects switch position.

“The Wild,” made by Canada’s C.O.R.E. Digital, has the dubious honor of being the third-lowest CG toon opening ever after August’s “Valiant,” which was also made by an outside firm for Disney, and The Weinstein Co.’s “Doogal” in February.

“Wild” averaged just $3,349 at 2,854 locations.

It’s likely the last toon made by an outside firm that will be released by Disney for the foreseeable future, as incoming animation chief creative officer John Lasseter focuses on films produced by Pixar and Walt Disney Feature Animation.

“The Wild” was thoroughly defeated by the third frame of “Ice Age: The Meltdown,” which declined 41% to $20 million.

Despite the school holiday, “Meltdown’s” drop was average for the third weekend of a CG toon, following a larger-than-typical 50% fall last frame. Sequel is declining quicker than most toons, but has still cumed a very healthy $147.2 million.

Fox’s CG sequel averaged $5,164 at 3,873 locations and landed in second place.

Fox Searchlight took limited hit “Thank You for Smoking” wide and did a so-so $4.5 million at 1,015 locations. Per-theater average was $4,384 and the satire has now cumed a solid $11.5 million.

“La Mujer de mi Hermano,” the first release as part of Lionsgate’s release partnership with Panamax, grossed just over $1 million, giving it a per-play average of $5,000. Pic bowed in the top 20 Latino markets and studio plans to take it wider April 28.

“Friends With Money” kept up its strong perf as Sony Pictures Classics expanded the Jennifer Aniston starrer from 28 to 42 screens in nine new markets. Average was $19,164, giving it a weekend take of $804,870 and cume of $1.6 million. SPC plans to take the indie drama wide to between 800 and 900 playdates Friday.

Lionsgate bowed controversial pedophile revenge drama “Hard Candy” at two theaters in Gotham and L.A. and grossed a very strong $60,000, or $30,000 per. 2005 Sundance entry will expand to several hundred playdates April 28.

Miramax opened Brit comedy “Kinky Boots” at nine locations and did a decent $81,100, or $9,011 per.

“The Notorious Bettie Page” bowed in the same neighborhood for Picturehouse. Biopic averaged $7,246 at 20 theaters, giving it an estimated weekend take of $144,919.

“I Am a Sex Addict,” the latest entry in IFC’s cable VOD day-and-date program, debuted with a modest $20,749 at five locations, or $4,149 per play.

“Brick” is fading fast for Focus. After bowing to $83,574 on two plays, high school noir is now down to $233,000 at 45 theaters, or $5,177 per. Gross rose only 17% despite more than doubling last week’s print count. Cume is $634,000.

Follow @Variety on Twitter for breaking news, reviews and more