"High School Musical", "Saw" lead box office

Mon Oct 27, 2008 8:47am EDT
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By Dean Goodman

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - In one of the more unusual duels at the North American box office, a perky Disney romantic musical trumped the fifth installment in the grisly "Saw" horror series, according to studio estimates issued on Sunday.

"High School Musical 3: Senior Year," the first big-screen adaptation of Walt Disney Co's popular TV movie franchise, sold $42 million worth of tickets during its first three days. The opening sets a new record for a musical, surpassing the $27.8 million bow of the ABBA-themed romance "Mamma Mia!" in July.

"Saw V" followed with $30.5 million, in line with the previous three installments. Moviegoers can expect additional sequels of both films.

The one-two punch of the disparate duo propelled overall weekend sales to their highest level in 10 weeks. The top 12 films grossed $120 million, according to tracking firm Media By Numbers, up about 40 percent from both last weekend and the year-ago weekend.

But the news was not all good. The new cop drama "Pride and Glory," starring Edward Norton and Colin Farrell, opened at No. 5 with just $6.3 million. It marks the second consecutive dud for Time Warner Inc's Warner Bros. following "Body of Lies," starring Russell Crowe and Leonardo DiCaprio, two weeks ago.

Disney, on the other hand, is enjoying a strong fall, first with "Beverly Hills Chihuahua" three weeks ago, and now with "High School Musical 3." The movie also opened in 19 international markets, and was No. 1 in each of them, led by Britain with $13 million.


"Music travels," said Mark Zoradi, president of Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures Group. "Sometimes American comedy is difficult to travel, but this is a relatively simple story and a good quality, fun movie."   Continued...

<p>A scene from "Saw V" in an image courtesy of Lionsgate Films. REUTERS/Handout</p>