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‘Grudge’ stays No.1, but ‘Ray’ opens well

Times Staff Writer

“The Grudge,” Takashi Shimizu’s American version of his Japanese hit “Ju-On” starring Sarah Michelle Gellar, continued its roll, scaring up $22.4 million during Halloween weekend.

Meanwhile, “Ray,” the adult drama in which Jamie Foxx portrays pop music legend Ray Charles, played more strongly than expected in its first weekend. At No. 2, it brought in an estimated $20.1 million, with a per-screen average of $10,024 (compared with $6,690 for “The Grudge”).

Despite a 44% drop from its $39-million first-place debut, “The Grudge” still managed to outdistance “Saw,” an R-rated film that also capitalizes on the fear factor.

The tale of a trap-setting serial killer starring Danny Glover and Cary Elwes, “Saw” took in about $17.4 million, putting it at No. 3.

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Two years ago, “The Ring” -- another remake of a Japanese film -- actually increased its numbers on Halloween weekend, the second of its release, said Brandon Gray, president of boxofficemojo.com. That movie, which went on to gross $129 million, paved the way for “Grudge.” Still, because the primarily young audience rushes out the first weekend, a 50% drop isn’t unusual. Coming off a $48-million opening, “Scary Movie 3" dropped 58% on Halloween weekend last year. And the R-rated “Texas Chain Saw Massacre” fell 49% in its second weekend out.

“Though these films can disappear quickly, ‘The Grudge’ will probably be one of the more profitable genre pictures in recent memory because it cost only $10 million to produce,” Gray said. “And the competition isn’t great. Halloween weekend is a time for holdovers rather than openings because people’s focus is expected to be elsewhere. Only 10 movies -- including 2003’s ‘Jackass,’ 1994’s ‘Stargate’ and 2001’s ‘K-Pax’ -- have opened to more than $10 million.”

Industry insiders suggest that Taylor Hackford’s “Ray” benefited from a dearth of contenders for the over-25 set -- as well as from Foxx’s critically acclaimed performance in Michael Mann’s “Collateral " Getting it into theaters before the onslaught of Oscar contenders, they say, was a smart strategic move.

Vying for the same crowd as “Grudge,” James Wan’s $1-million “Saw” may have been affected by its R rating, prohibiting anyone 17 or under from seeing the film unless accompanied by an adult.

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More gruesome than “Grudge,” the film debuted at last year’s Sundance Film Festival and received a strong marketing push from Lions Gate Releasing. With pictures such as “Open Water” and “Cabin Fever” to its credit, the distributor has proven expertise in the independent horror genre.

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(Begin Text of Infobox)

Box Office

Preliminary results (in millions) based on studio projections.

*--* Movie 3-day gross Total

*--*

*--* The Grudge $22.4 $71.3

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Ray 20.1 20.1

Saw 17.4 17.4

Shark Tale 8 147.4

Shall We Dance 6.3 33.9

Friday Night Lights 4.1 53

Ladder 49 3.3 66.2

Team America: World Police 3.1 27.3

Surviving Christmas 2.6 8.1

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Taxi 2.2 32.7

*--*

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Source: Nielsen EDI, Inc.

Los Angeles Times


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