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The Grudge 2 Is Tops On Friday The 13th Weekend

On a weekend that started on Friday the 13 th, is it any wonder the top film at the box office was a scary one?

The Halloween spirit arrived early this year, as The Grudge 2 became Hollywood’s number one film with a $22 million debut.

Last week’s top flick the Martin Scorsese mob story The Departed, fell to second with $18.7.

And rounding out the top three was Robin Williams’ latest, a political comedy about a comedian that becomes president. Man of the Year opened in third with $12.55 million.

The Grudge 2 is a slight departure from the first film, and original star Sarah Michelle Gellar receives just a cameo. The sequel stars Amber Tamblyn as Gellar’s sister, haunted by the same angry and vengeful spirits.

The picture wasn’t screened for critics and earned horrible opening night reviews. But in the horror genre, such endorsements rarely make a difference.

“These movies are not critics’ darlings. They rarely are,” said Paul Dergarabedian, president of box-office tracker Exhibitor Relations.

“But audiences love horror. We’ve said it time and again, this is maybe the most consistently performing genre in the marketplace, especially right before Halloween.”

Meanwhile, The Departed could soon become Scorsese’s biggest hit. Current record holder The Aviator pulled in $102.6 million in 2004, a mark his newest effort should surpass.

In general it was a great weekend for Hollywood, with the top 12 movies taking in $100.8 million, a 41 per cent boost from the same weekend last year when The Fog debuted at number one with $11.8 million.

But little of that success can be credited to independent films like the Truman Capote tale Infamous, which opened with a whimper.

The movie stars British actor Toby Jones as Capote during the period of his writing true-crime classic “In Cold Blood.” It received good reviews but after last year’s acclaimed “Capote,” it could be that audiences are all Capoted out.

“Unfortunately, the audience couldn’t differentiate between the two,” said Steven Friedlander, head of distribution for Warner Independent. “We’re hoping if this one doesn’t pick up theatrically, it can find a really solid video life so people can compare the two films.”

Here’s the rest of the weekend’s top 10 with all figures estimated according to Exhibitor Relations Co. Inc.

1. “The Grudge 2,” $22 million.

2. “The Departed,” $18.7 million.

3. “Man of the Year,” $12.55 million.

4. “Open Season,” $11 million.

5. “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning,” $7.75 million.

6. “The Marine,” $7 million.

7. “The Guardian,” $5.85 million.

8. “Employee of the Month,” $5.6 million.

9. “One Night With the King,” $4.3 million.

10. “Jackass Number Two,” $3.3 million.