Bob and Harvey Weinstein returned to the box-office lead as "Scary Movie 4" debuted with $41 million, the first No. 1 opening for the new company founded by the former Miramax bosses.
It was the best Easter weekend debut ever, beating the $30.1 million opening of "Panic Room" in 2002, according to studio estimates Sunday.
With the success of "Scary Movie 4," Bob Weinstein said he hopes to have a fifth film in the horror-spoof franchise in theaters over Easter weekend next year.
"I say the Weinsteins should be getting `Scary Movie' 5 through 10 ready right away," said Paul Dergarabedian, president of box-office tracker Exhibitor Relations.
Weinstein said director David Zucker and writer Jim Abrahams, collaborators on "Airplane!" and the "Naked Gun" movies, would reteam for the next sequel.
"Scary Movie 4" was released under the Weinstein Co.'s Dimension label, which the brothers brought with them after their departure from Disney-owned Miramax last year. Disney continues to share half the proceeds from the "Scary Movie" flicks and any future installments in pre-existing Dimension franchises, such as the "Scream" or "Spy Kids" series.
The Weinsteins will have sole control over any new franchises Dimension undertakes.
"We've got four or five new franchises in development, so it's not just like I'm going to go ad infinitum on the old stuff," Bob Weinstein said. "We've got other ideas that I'm really excited about starting."
The animated hit "Ice Age: The Meltdown," which had been No. 1 the previous two weekends, slipped to second place with $20 million, raising its total to $147.2 million.
The weekend's other new wide release, Disney's animated tale "The Wild," debuted at No. 4 with $9.6 million.
Fox Searchlight's acclaimed satire "Thank You for Smoking," a hit in limited release, expanded nationwide and took in $4.45 million to come in at No. 8.
Hollywood's overall revenues rose for the fourth-straight weekend, with the top-12 movies grossing $110 million. That was up 23 percent from 2005's Easter weekend, which came three weeks earlier last year. It was up about 45 percent compared to the mid-April weekend last year.
The industry has pulled ahead slightly from its slow pace last year, when movie attendance fell 8 percent. The "Ice Age" and "Scary Movie" sequels have provided a solid lead-in to what analysts consider a strong early-summer lineup that launches next month with "Mission: Impossible III," "The Da Vinci Code," the animated tale "Over the Hedge" and "Poseidon," a remake of "The Poseidon Adventure."
"Scary Movie 4" continued the success of 2003's "Scary Movie 3," which had rejuvenated the fading franchise by softening the tone from the R ratings of the first two installments to PG-13. The first "Scary Movie" opened at No. 1 in 2000 with a $42 million take.
The latest version features longtime "Scary Movie" player Anna Faris and co-stars Leslie Nielsen, a Zucker and Abrahams favorite who starred in "Airplane!" and "The Naked Gun" comedies.
Bob Weinstein said 40 to 50 percent of the audience was in the 12- to 17-year-old range. The movie also drew well among older audiences lured in by the Zucker-Abrahams brand of humor, Weinstein said.
Estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday at U.S. and Canadian theaters, according to Exhibitor Relations Co. Inc. Final figures will be released Monday.
1. "Scary Movie 4," $41 million.
2. "Ice Age: The Meltdown," $20 million.
3. "The Benchwarmers," $10 million.
4. "The Wild," $9.6 million.
5. "Take the Lead," $6.7 million.
6. "Inside Man," $6.3 million.
7. "Lucky Number Slevin," $4.6 million.
8. "Thank You for Smoking," $4.45 million.
9. "Failure to Launch," $2.6 million.
10. "V for Vendetta," $2.2 million.