November 2, 2008 / 5:56 PM / 9 years ago

"High School Musical" repeats atop box office

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - “High School Musical 3: Senior Year” led the North American box office for a second weekend, while the comedy “Zack and Miri Make a Porno” opened at No. 2, according to studio estimates issued on Sunday.

<p>Cast members of the "High School Musical" movies, (from L-R) Ashley Tisdale, Corbin Bleu, Vanessa Hudgens and Zac Efron, present an award at the 2008 MTV Video Music Awards in Los Angeles September 7, 2008. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni</p>

Overall sales were hampered by Halloween distractions on Friday. “High School Musical 3,” for example, ranked at No. 5 that day, but it rebounded strongly on Saturday, and Sunday business was expected to remain brisk. In all, Walt Disney Co’s teen-oriented musical earned about $15 million for the three-day period, taking its 10-day haul to $61.75 million.

Additionally, the latest installment in the song-and-dance franchise earned $26 million from No. 1 holds in each of its 26 international markets, Disney said; its foreign total rose to $85 million.

There will “very likely” be a sequel, but the format and cast have not been decided yet, said Mark Zoradi, president of Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures Group.

“High School Musical 3,” and its pair of preceding TV movies, made teen idols out of Zac Efron, Vanessa Hudgens and Ashley Tisdale. The films were directed by “Dirty Dancing” choreographer Kenny Ortega.

AGGRESSIVE “PORNO”

“Zack and Miri Make a Porno” followed with $10.7 million, said closely held distributor Weinstein Co. Other studios, however, said that estimate was at least $1 million too high.

“There’s no question that we’re being a little bit aggressive,” said Weinstein Co. distribution chairman Steve Bunnell, referring to the studio’s estimate of Sunday sales. Final data will be issued on Monday.

Either way, the opening represented a considerable drop from those of star Seth Rogen’s previous two comedy vehicles, the summer hit “Pineapple Express” ($23.2 million) and last year’s “Knocked Up” ($30.7 million).

Rogen and Elizabeth Banks play cash-strapped roommates who test their platonic friendship by making a porn movie to pay off their bills. It was directed by Kevin Smith.

The horror film “Saw V” fell one place to No. 3 with $10.1 million, taking its 10-day haul to $45.8 million. The lucrative franchise was released by Lionsgate, a unit of Lions Gate Entertainment Corp.

“Changeling,” the latest Oscar hopeful from director Clint Eastwood and actress Angelina Jolie, jumped 16 places to No. 4 with $9.4 million in its first weekend of wide release,

The fact-based drama set in 1920s Los Angeles played to an audience comprised mostly of women over 30, said Universal Pictures, a unit of General Electric Co’s NBC Universal Inc. Including its haul from a limited opening last weekend in nine markets, the total stands at $10.1 million.

Ever since “Changeling” made its world premiere at the Cannes Film Festival in May, Oscar buzz has been circling the picture. Jolie earned plaudits for her role as a single mother who battles the city’s power structure after her son disappears. The high-profile actress generated similar awards buzz last year with “A Mighty Heart,” but that film bombed and Oscar voters ignored it.

Eastwood, 78, has been on a creative roll since 2003. His four films, beginning with that year’s “Mystic River,” generated 19 Oscar nominations and seven wins. He is gearing up to release another film, “Gran Torino,” on December 17. In addition to directing, he also stars in that picture, his first acting gig since 2004’s “Million Dollar Baby.”

“The Haunting of Molly Hartley,” a teen horror released to capitalize on Halloween, opened at No. 5 with just $6 million. Haley Bennett stars in the title role as a schoolgirl bedeviled by strange visions and voices. It was released by closely held Freestyle Releasing.

Editing by Sandra Maler

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