Horror 'Grudge' Reigns at Halloween Box Office Sunday October 31 2:30 PM ET
The haunted-house thriller "The Grudge," starring Sarah Michelle Gellar, held on to the No. 1 slot at the North American box office, scaring up $22.4 million in ticket sales during the Halloween weekend, according to studio estimates issued on Sunday.
"Ray," starring Jamie Foxx in a much-praised turn as the late "Genius of Soul" Ray Charles, hit the road at No. 2 with $20.1 million in its first weekend, while the low-budget thriller "Saw" made the cut at No. 3 with $17.4 million.
Nicole Kidman's new movie, "Birth," was stillborn, opening at No. 11 with $1.7 million. The $20 million supernatural drama has won notoriety for a bathtub scene involving Kidman and a 10-year-old boy who claims to be her dead husband.
Rounding out the top five, the maritime cartoon "Shark Tale" was at No. 4 with $8.0 million, followed by the Jennifer Lopez-Richard Gere romance "Shall We Dance?" with $6.3 million. Both were down two places, and their respective totals rose to $147.4 million and $33.9 million.
Overall sales for the top 12 films improved by almost three percent to $92.8 million from the year-ago weekend, according to tracking firm Exhibitor Relations. But the tally was five percent down from last weekend, when "The Grudge" shocked everyone by opening with $39.1 million.
After 10 days, "The Grudge" has sold $71.3 million worth of tickets and is expected to surpass the $90 million mark, according to conservative projections from the film's distributor, Sony Corp's Columbia Pictures.
"The Grudge," director Takashi Shimizu's $10 million remake of Japanese film "Ju-On," surprised again in its second round by losing only 43 percent of its audience. Many observers had expected it to slide by at least 50 percent, paving the way for "Ray" to open at No. 1. But Halloween festivities and its user-friendly PG-13 rating proved otherwise.
"Ray" took 15 years for its director, Taylor Hackford, to bring to the big screen thanks to apathy among Hollywood studios. Universal Pictures, a unit of General Electric Co.-controlled NBC Universal, picked up the completed film earlier this year after Denver billionaire Philip Anschutz footed the estimated $30 million budget himself.
Two-thirds of the audience was aged over 30, and 59 percent was black, Universal said. Exit polls showed that 99 percent of viewers rated the movie "very good" or "excellent," the studio added. Additionally, the "definite recommend" score was in the 90 percent range, against a norm in the 50 percent range, indicating that word-of-mouth will keep the film in theaters through awards season.
Foxx has generated a lot of early Oscar buzz for his accurate portrayal of the blind pianist, who saw the film shortly before he died in June of liver disease.
"Saw," an R-rated chiller starring Cary Elwes and co-writer Leigh Whannell in a limb-hacking dilemma, ranks behind "Fahrenheit 9/11" ($23.9 million) as the second-best opener in the history of its distributor, Lions Gate Films. The studio is a unit of Lions Gate Entertainment Corp.
"Shark Tale" was released by DreamWorks Animation SKG Inc., and "Shall We Dance?" by Miramax Films, a unit of Walt Disney Co. "Birth" was released by New Line Cinema, a unit of Time Warner Inc.View This Weekend's Box Office Chart