B.O. spooked, Bond's big

'High School' holds as Halloween hurts

Talk about having to work harder just to keep ahead. Disney's teens-and-tweens phenom "High School Musical 3: Senior Year" again topped the boxoffice class this weekend but marked a big 64% decline from the previous week's opening grosses. The Zac Efron starrer registered an estimated $15 million sophomore session for a 10-day domestic cume of $61.8 million.

Halloween activities hurt all comers, inflicting even more pain than some distributors anticipated. Three films were tightly grouped around second place in preliminary rankings:

>The Weinstein Co.'s R-rated comedy "Zack and Miri Make a Porno," starring Seth Rogen and Elizabeth Banks, opened with $10.7 million.

>Lionsgate horror sequel "Saw V" saw a bloody 66% drop over its second weekend, to $10.1 million and a $45.8 million cume.

>Universal expanded wide Clint Eastwood's Angelina Jolie starrer "Changeling" to fetch $9.4 million, with a $10.1 million cume.

Elsewhere, Freestyle Releasing's PG-13 horror film "The Haunting of Molly Hartley" bowed with $6 million in fifth place.

Warner Bros.' police drama "Pride and Glory" fell 48% over its second weekend, to $3.3 million in 10th place with an $11.6 million cume.

And Warners broadened the Guy Ritchie gangster film "RockNRolla" from limited release to a barely wide 826 playdates, looting $1.8 million for a $2.4 million cume.

Industrywide, the weekend's $84 million in collective boxoffice represented a sizable 37% downtick from grosses rung up over the same frame last year, according to data service Nielsen EDI. The year-earlier session offered a particularly tough comparison, featuring the $43.6 million bow of Universal's "American Gangster" and a $38 million opening by DreamWorks Animation's "Bee Movie."

Seasonal boxoffice remains 3% ahead of a similar portion of fall 2007, a notable margin considering current economic circumstances. But year-to-date grosses are now off 1% from last year, at $7.94 billion.

Notable expansions this weekend also included Miramax's upping Mike Leigh's "Happy-Go-Lucky" by 41 theaters for a total of 60 to gross $281,000. That represented a sturdy $4,683 per venue, with a $767,000 cume.

Sony Pictures Classics boosted its Kristin Scott Thomas starrer "I've Loved You So Long" by 11 playdates for a total of 20 and grossed $150,896, or a solid $7,545 per engagement, with a cume of $501,095.

SPC added 21 locations for Jonathan Demme's "Rachel Getting Married" for a total of 133 and grossed $808,480, or $6,079 per site, with a cume of $3.8 million.

Audiences for the Kevin Smith-helmed "Zack and Miri" skewed 55% male, with 63% of patrons under age 30.

"Obviously we got hurt by Halloween, as everybody did," Weinstein Co. distribution boss Steve Bunnell said. "But the audience came out in droves on Saturday."

If the "Zack and Miri" bow holds up when final data are released today, it will rank as the second highest ever for Smith.

Smith's 2001 comedy "Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back" debuted with $11 million en route to $30.1 million overall domestically. His 2006 comedy "Clerks II" unspooled with $10.1 million ($24.1 million overall).

"Changeling" expanded to 1,850 engagements from just 15 playdates over its first session last weekend. The true-life period drama attracted audiences skewing 61% female, with 68% of patrons over age 30.

"This has been like a lunatic weekend for boxoffice," Uni distribution president Nikki Rocco said. "But Saturday was a great day, and Sunday will determine who ends up as No. 2."

Audience demos weren't available on "Molly Hartley," which performed roughly as expected.

"We are happy with our performance so far this weekend," Freestyle topper Mark Borde said. "Obviously we were hurt by Halloween Friday night but still saw some wonderful grosses across the country."

"RockNRolla" had been in 19 theaters before expanding wide over its fourth frame. "We hit our number right on for the weekend," Warners exec vp Jeff Goldstein said of the film's three-day gross. "It was what we anticipated."

Looking ahead, four wide openers unspool Friday: DWA's "Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa," Universal's R-rated comedy "Role Models," MGM's Bernie Mac-Samuel L. Jackson starrer "Soul Men" and Lionsgate's rock musical "Repo: The Genetic Opera." (partialdiff)
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