Once again proving Norm MacDonald’s old theory that Germans love David Hasselhoff

‘Darkness Falls’ Rises To Number One At Weekend Box Office
LOS ANGELES – The horror flick “Darkness Falls,” about a vengeful spirit tormenting the town that lynched her, scared up $12.5 million in its opening weekend to debut as the No. 1 movie.
Last weekend’s top movie, the comedy “Kangaroo Jack,” fell to second place with $11.9 million.
The musical “Chicago” continued to climb the charts in narrower release. It expanded to 616 theaters, an increase of 59, and took in $8.5 million to finish at No. 3, up from sixth place the previous weekend.
“Chicago” averaged an impressive $13,721 a theater, compared with $4,406 in 2,837 theaters for “Darkness Falls.”
With $40.6 million already in the bank and solid Academy Awards prospects, “Chicago” is well poised to expand into wide release Feb. 7, four days before the Oscar nominations come out.
“It’s a very enviable position to be in,” said Paul Dergarabedian, president of box-office tracker Exhibitor Relations. “Musicals have been out of favor for so long, but `Chicago’ is beating all the odds and performing better and better as it rolls out.”
George Clooney’s directing debut “Confessions of a Dangerous Mind” broke into the top 10 in its first weekend of wide release after a limited debut in December to qualify for the Oscars. Starring Sam Rockwell as game-show host Chuck Barris in a fictionalized film biography, “Confessions” grossed $6 million and came in at No. 8.
Other awards contenders held well as they expanded to more theaters, including “About Schmidt,” which came in at No. 9 with $5.5 million, and “The Hours,” which was No. 10 with $4 million.
Overall, the box office dropped sharply compared to the same weekend last year, when “Black Hawk Down” was the No. 1 film. The top 12 movies grossed $82.9 million, down 25 percent from the same weekend in 2002.
Some of that decrease resulted from movie-goers staying home for the Super Bowl, which came a weekend later last year.
“Darkness Falls” benefited from a slow weekend in which it was the only wide-release debut. It stars Emma Caulfield of TV’s “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” as a woman battling a ghost-hag that’s slicing and dicing people in her town.
Horror movies typically do well in their first weekend as fans of the genre turn out in big numbers, but business tends to drop off steeply in subsequent weeks. With a tight $11 million budget, though, “Darkness Falls” will turn a solid profit, said Tom Sherak, a partner at Revolution Studios, which produced the movie for distributor Sony.
Like last year’s horror hit “The Ring,” a PG-13 rating might give “Darkness Falls” more staying power than fright flicks with an R rating, Sherak said.
“PG-13 is a little bit broader than the hard Rs,” said Sherak, whose son, William, made his debut as a producer on “Darkness Falls.” “It’s the kind of horror movie that people felt safe in bringing younger kids to.”
Here are the estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday at North American theaters, according to Exhibitor Relations Co. Inc. Final figures will be released Monday.
1. “Darkness Falls,” $12.5 million.
2. “Kangaroo Jack,” $11.9 million.
3. “Chicago,” $8.5 million.
4. “Just Married,” $7.5 million.
5. “National Security,” $7.4 million.
6. “The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers,” $6.9 million.
7. “Catch Me If You Can,” $6.6 million.
8. “Confessions of a Dangerous Mind,” $6 million.
9. “About Schmidt,” $5.5 million.
10. “The Hours,” $4 million.