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April 14, 2008

MOVIES: ‘Prom Night’ carves out No. 1 stake at weekend box office

Audiences made a date with “Prom Night,” the remake of the 1980 slasher flick that took in $22.7 million to debut as the weekend’s No. 1 movie, according to studio estimates.

The movie, released by Sony’s Screen Gems banner, stars Brittany Snow as a teen terrorized by a psycho killer on prom night. It overcame the critical drubbing handed to most fright films, which have a built-in audience that often turns out in big numbers on opening weekend regardless of reviews.

“Audiences today, they’re so savvy in regards to what they want to see or don’t want to see. Particularly a younger audience, they pretty much make up their own mind,” said Rory Bruer, Sony head of distribution.

With prom season also at hand, that “brings an element of fun,” Bruer said.

Opening in second place was 20th Century Fox’s “Street Kings,” a cop drama starring Keanu Reeves and Forest Whitaker that took in $12 million.

The new movies bumped Sony’s “21,” which fell to third place with $11 million after two weekends at No. 1. The Vegas blackjack tale raised its three-week total to $62.3 million.

The weekend’s other new wide release, Miramax’s “Smart People,” opened at No. 7 with $4.2 million. “Smart People” stars Dennis Quaid, Sarah Jessica Parker, Ellen Page and Thomas Haden Church in a comic drama about a crusty English professor and his oddball family and associates.

Hollywood’s box office doldrums continued, with the top 12 movies taking in $82.6 million, down 16 percent from the same weekend last year. This year’s movie attendance is running 6.6 percent behind 2007’s, according to box office tracker Media By Numbers.

That gap could widen when the industry’s busy summer season arrives.

The superhero saga “Iron Man,” starring Robert Downey Jr., is expected to put up big numbers to kick off Hollywood’s summer on May 2. But it is unlikely to approach the record $151.1 million debut of “Spiderman 3” over the same weekend a year ago.

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