‘Final Destination’ tops weekend B.O.

3-D pic beats out 'Halloween II,' hippies

Fueled by the 1,678 3-D runs, Warner Bros./New Line’s “The Final Destination” left the Weinstein Co.’s “Halloween II” bloodied as it opened to an estimated $28.3 million from 3,121 theaters, delivering the best opening for the franchise.

 Weekend’s ticket sales were horrifyingly good, up as much as 38% over the same weekend a year ago. Summer 2009 is now tied with 2007 as the best summer ever at the domestic B.O., with revenues approximately matching last summer’s total of $4.16 billion. And with Labor Day weekend yet to come, revenues will easily zoom pass that mark.

“Halloween II” opened to an estimated $17.4 million from 3,025 runs. TWC label Dimension said it was pleased by the result but immediately jumped on the 3-D bandwagon, announcing that the next installment would be shot in the format.

The major disappointment of the weekend was Ang Lee’s “Taking Woodstock.” Focus Features had hoped for an opening of $5 million-$6 million, but the gently nostalgic pic grossed only an estimated $3.7 million from 1,393 runs.

On the specialty side, Roadside Attractions’ documentary “The September Issue” posted a boffo per-location average of $40,013 — the fifth highest ever for a docu opening in a limited run. Film, about legendary Vogue editor Anna Wintour, grossed $240,078 from six theaters in New York.

“Halloween II” may have lost to “Final Destination,” but the Weinstein Co. continued to see strong results for the second sesh of “Inglourious Basterds.” The Quentin Tarantino pic fell 47% to an estimated $20 million from 3,165 runs for a domestic cume of $73.8 million. Overseas, the film grossed an estimated $19.4 million from 2,891 runs in 31 territories for a foreign total of $59.1 million. Worldwide tally is a boffo $132.9 million.

Universal Pictures Intl. is the Weinstein Co.’s full partner on “Basterds” and is distributing overseas. Film held at No. 1 in Australia, France and Germany, as well as opening No. 1 in a handful of other markets.

“Final Destination” beat “Basterds” in the U.K., grossing $5.7 million to $2 million for “Basterds.” “Final Destination’s” total foreign haul for the weekend was $10.1 million from 850 screens. In France, it grossed $3.7 million from 400 screens, coming in at No. 2 behind “Basterds.”

Among other domestic holdovers, Sony’s “Julie and Julia” continued to cook up box office coin, declining just 16% to $7.3 million from 2,503 runs for a cume of $71 million in its fourth week.

But box office observers were most riveted to the battle between “Halloween” and “Final Destination” as a result of the unusual decision to pit two horror pics against each other. “Halloween II” had staked out the date first, making “Final Destination” the interloper.

Warners said it was the only good date available, since other upcoming releases will need the 3-D screens. The 3-D engagements managed to reinvigorate the franchise, bringing in 70% of the total gross, or $19.8 million. The previous installment opened to approximately $19 million.

“It shows the power of 3-D to expand the footprint dramatically,” said Warner Bros. exec VP of domestic distribution Jeff Goldstein.

“Final Destination” wasn’t the only 3-D title seeing boffo biz. Twentieth Century Fox’s “Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs” opened in Italy to $10.8 million, an industry record. Toon’s total weekend international gross was $15 million for a cume of $635.2 million, making it the seventh best foreign title of all time. By next weekend, it should climb to No. 5.

“Final Destination” attracted a fairly even gender breakdown, with 52% females, while 60% of the total were under age 25.

Head-to-head horror seems to have hurt “Halloween II,” which did substantially less box office than “Halloween,” which relaunched the franchise two years ago with a $26.4 million opening.

Bob Weinstein said his company was pleased with the results for “Halloween II” considering the direct competition.

“There is tremendous business in 3-D,” Weinstein said, noting the company’s upcoming “Piranha 3-D,” which opens April 16.

Weinstein said helmer Rob Zombie has successfully relaunched the horror franchise. Zombie is moving on to helm a remake of “The Blob.”

Audience for “Halloween II” was evenly split between females and males. Pic fell more than 25% from Friday to Saturday, while “Final Destination” dipped only 6%.

Focus Features didn’t try to brush aside its disappointment with Lee’s “Taking Woodstock.” Film played strongest to baby boomers, and Focus is hoping that the upcoming Labor Day weekend will see more of that aud hitting the multiplex. Aud was split evenly between men and women.

“Woodstock,” based on the memoir of Elliot Tiber, who helped organize the famous 1969 concert, did better in cities and in the Woodstock, N.Y., area.

Lee’s pic, written by Focus topper James Schamus, was likely hurt by lukewarm reviews as well as the perception that the pic would appeal most to those who remembered the concert.

The specialty box office posted noteworthy results for films including Roadside’s “September Issue.”

“Moviegoers who saw ‘The Devil Wear Prada’ wanted to see what the real woman was like,” Roadside’s Howard Cohen said. “Anna Wintour is an interesting and mysterious woman.”

Samuel Goldwyn’s Paul Giamatti topliner “Cold Souls” posted a per-location average of $25,090 as it grossed $100,360 from four locations. Cume is $478,775 in its fourth sesh.

Vitagraph’s German film “The Baader Meinhof Complex” grossed $32,000 from three runs in its second sesh for a per-location average of $10,666 and a total of $59,507.

Among openers, First Independent’s sports drama “Big Fan” scored a per-location average of $13,025, grossing $26,050 from two locations. IFC Films’ Japanese pic “Still Walking” opened to $21,546 from two runs for a per-location average of $10,773.

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