Moviegoers go mad for "Shutter Island"

Sun Feb 21, 2010 2:51pm EST
 
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LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Martin Scorsese and Leonardo DiCaprio whipped up hysteria at the weekend box office in North America with "Shutter Island," their second chart-topping collaboration.

The duo's study of criminal insanity sold a better-than-expected $40.2 million worth of tickets, distributor Paramount Pictures said on Sunday.

The opening set personal bests for both the director and the actor and silenced industry naysayers who considered it ominous when the cash-strapped Viacom Inc unit said last August it would delay the film's release by four months.

Paramount vice chairman Rob Moore said while there were "some perception issues with the press," moviegoers were excited by the film's trailer and advertising that ran during the high-profile Golden Globes and Super Bowl telecasts.

Paramount pulled the movie from its planned October 3 release because it did not have enough marketing money left in its 2009 budget. It instead focused on "The Lovely Bones" and "Up in the Air."

Given that "Shutter Island" has made almost as much in its first three days as "The Lovely Bones" ($43 million) has after a month in wide release, did the studio back the wrong horse, especially since films released early in the year rarely receive Oscar attention?

Moore said he was confident the strong box office and solid reviews would prove a powerful combination when awards season kicks off in the fall.

FOURTH COLLABORATION

DiCaprio stars in the $75 million picture as a federal marshal stranded at a prison hospital for the criminally insane off the coast of Massachusetts in 1954. Pundits had forecast an opening in the $25 million to $30 million range.   Continued...