What!??! Really?!?!?

‘Exorcist’ Scares Up No. 1 Slot at Box Office
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – “Exorcist: The Beginning,” a film that had to be re-shot with a new director because the first version was not scary enough, led the North American box office over the weekend, as moviegoers once again flocked to the resurrection of an aging franchise.
According to studio estimates issued on Sunday, the fourth installment in the 30-year-old “Exorcist” series sold about $18.2 million worth of tickets in the three days since its Aug. 20 opening.
Another new entry, the comedy “Without a Paddle,” launched at No. 2 with $13.2 million. The teen romance “The Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement” slipped to No. 3 with $13.2 million in its second weekend.
Last week’s champ, the monster saga “Alien vs. Predator,” combining the characters from two tired movie series, fell to No. 4 with $12.5 million.
The shark thriller “Open Water” jumped 12 places to No. 5 with $11.8 million in its first weekend of wide release. Also expanding this weekend was the quirky drama “Garden State,” which rose three places to No. 10 with $3.2 million.
Sales for the top 12 films totaled $102.9 million, according to tracking firm Exhibitor Relations. The figure represented a 16 percent decline from last weekend, but a 21 improvement over the year-ago period, when “Freddy vs. Jason” — yet another horror franchise combo — ruled for a second weekend with $13 million.
“Exorcist” stars Stellan Skarsgard as titular hero Father Merrin, who uncovers mysterious goings-on while drifting through Cairo in 1949 in an alcoholic haze. The film was originally shot by Paul Schrader, the “Taxi Driver” screenwriter who left the project a year ago after turning in an edit not to the liking of its producers. Finnish filmmaker Renny Harlin (“Cliffhanger”) was then hired to start afresh. His version cost about $20 million to make.
The opening was better-than-expected, according to Dan Fellman, president of distribution at Warner Bros Pictures, a unit of Time Warner Inc., which is handling the film’s release for a fee on behalf of producer Morgan Creek Prods.
“Without a Paddle” also exceeded the modest expectations of its distributor, Paramount Pictures. The film stars Matthew Lillard, Dax Shepard and Seth Green as three urban adventurers who get into trouble with wacky locals while on a rafting expedition. It cost less than $20 million to make, said a spokeswoman for the Viacom Inc. -owned studio.
After 12 days, Walt Disney Co. ‘s “Princess Diaries” sequel has hauled in about $61.4 million. Anne Hathaway returns as a modern-day princess who must find a consort in order to secure her succession to a mythical kingdom.
“Alien vs. Predator” has earned $63.1 million after 10 days. Its precipitous 67 percent drop was the steepest in the top 10, but not surprising for a genre film that had a big $38 million opening. The film was released by Twentieth Century Fox, a unit of News Corp.’s Fox Entertainment Group Inc .
“Open Water,” loosely based on the true story of two divers accidentally left behind in shark-filled waters by their tour operator, has earned $14.8 million after three weekends. It was released by Lions Gate Films, a unit of Lions Gate Entertainment Corp, which acquired the film for a little over $2 million at the Sundance Film Festival earlier this year. It cost under $500,000 to make.
“Garden State,” the writing and directing debut of its star, Zach Braff (of NBC’s “Scrubs”), has earned about $6.7 million after four weekends. It was released by Fox Searchlight Pictures, the arthouse arm of Fox Entertainment.