Debate doesn't slow box office

Friday’s presidential debate hardly hampered business at the box office as the DreamWorks-Paramount thriller “Eagle Eye” led a fresh crop of adult-skewing releases with an estimated $9.7 million.

Playing at 3,510 theaters, “Eagle Eye” reteams “Disturbia” helmer D.J. Caruso and leading thesp Shia LaBeouf who reaped box office success with their previous foray “Disturbia” in April 2007. The opening day for “Eagle Eye” easily outstripped “Disturbia’s” first day of $8.8 million and should have no trouble exceeding that pic’s three-day total of $22.2 million.

Over the last nine years, with the exception of 2001 and 2003, the last frame of September has typically touted a $20 million opener.

Slotting second yesterday was Warner Bros.’ romantic drama “Nights in Rodanthe” with $4.7 million off 2,704. Pic marks the third onscreen pairing of Richard Gere and Diane Lane who previously starred together in 2002’s “Unfaithful” and 1984’s “The Cotton Club.” The opening for the PG-13 pic bested the R-rated “Unfaithful” which posted a first Friday of $4.5 million after a limited Wednesday bow. Among Lane’s romantic drama headliners, “Nights” also marks an opening day high for the actress.

Samuel Goldwyn’s Christian themed pic “Fireproof” bowed impressively in the top three with $2.3 million on 839; pegging ahead of last weekend’s holdovers and some of Friday’s frosh releases. Drama starring Kirk Cameron centers on a firefighter who is trying to keep his marriage together.

Last weekend’s No. 1 thriller, Sony-Screen Gems’ “Lakeview Terrace” parked in fourth with $2.1 million off 2,467, down 61%, and an eight-day take of $20.8 million.

Coen brothers comedy “Burn After Reading” distributed by Focus Features took fifth with $1.6 million from 2,649 taking its cume in the midst of its third frame to $41 million. Pic is on the verge of eclipsing “O Brother, Where Art Thou?” ($45.5 million) as the Coen Brothers’ second highest grossing film stateside behind “No Country for Old Men.”

Disney’s Spike Lee WWII drama “The Miracle at St. Anna” fell outside the top five, opening to $1 million on 1,185.

Fox Searchlight’s “Choke” starring Sam Rockwell and Anjelica Huston led frosh limited fare with $450,000 off 435. Lionsgate’s Neil Burger Iraqi war drama “The Lucky Ones” grossed $47,000 on 425. Paramount Vantage’s period piece “The Duchess” saw a 116% spike in its Friday-to-Friday grosses with $121,000 after expanding from 7 to 55 venues. Pic charted a per theater of $2,207 and an eight day cume of $388,000.

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