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‘H20’ pulls off top B.O. trick

Slasher edges out 'Ryan' for No. 1

Miramax’s horror sequel “Halloween: H20” scared up a razor-sharp $5.1 million Wednesday, topping the midweek box office, according to the minimajor.

The modestly priced slasher pic, released under Miramax’s Dimension Films banner, cut the Paramount/DreamWorks’ holdover “Saving Private Ryan” out of first place for the first time since “Ryan” opened July 31.

The Spielberg war pic grossed $3.1 million Wednesday to land in the No. 2 spot. “Ryan” dropped nearly 9% from Tuesday, indicating that “H20” had sliced into its audience.

While Paramount’s “Snake Eyes” opens today, “H20” is seen as the most serious threat “Ryan” faces for the foreseeable future. The two pictures seem poised for a potentially fierce battle for weekend box office champ.

Whether it takes first place or not, with its reported $17 million budget, “H20” appears likely to be a highly profitable venture for Miramax.

Third place went to Buena Vista’s “Parent Trap” at slightly under $2.1 million. Not surprisingly, the family pic was down very slightly from Tuesday, apparently all but unaffected by “H20.”

Fourth place went to 20th Century Fox’s “There’s Something About Mary” with 1.7 million; “Ever After: A Cinderella Story,” also from Fox, appeared at No. 5 with $1.5 million.

“H20” opened in 2,454 theaters, increasing to 2,607 today.

It was by far Miramax’s highest-ever Wednesday opening, easily topping the $662,000 bow of “I Got the Hook Up” earlier this summer.

The opening was hardly an industry record, however. Already this summer, Sony’s “Godzilla” took in $8.4 million on the Wednesday before Memorial Day and Buena Vista’s “Armageddon” grossed $9.7 million on its midweek launch.

Fox’s 1996 hit “Independence Day” holds the Wednesday record with a staggering $17.4 million. “Men in Black” grossed $14 million.

Wednesday openings, which are common before holiday weekends such as Memorial Day and Independence Day, are increasingly used during nonholiday frames. Opening midweek helps to distinguish a film from its competition in a crowded marketplace and also helps to build word of mouth going into the weekend.

“H20,” the 20th anniversary sequel to John Carpenter’s groundbreaking chiller, was directed by Steve Miner.

Jamie Lee Curtis reprises her role as Laurie Strode in the picture, which also stars Adam Arkin, Michelle Williams, Adam Hann-Byrd, Jodi Lyn O’Keefe, LL Cool J and Janet Leigh.

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