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''Halloween'' scares up record

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Summer at the movies is officially over. And while it ended on a high note (Rob Zombie’s re-imagining of Halloween broke records with a $31 million opening), the final weekend of the summer always seems to be one that confuses Hollywood.

For starters, why isn’t Labor Day typically a strong movie-going weekend? Yes, it’s close to back-to-school and families are getting ready for fall routine to set back in, but it’s a holiday; there’s got to be some time to fit a movie in. For the past few years the grosses during this frame have been getting better and better. Zombie’s Halloween blew past the Transporter 2 record of $18.1 million in 2005 by an impressive 54% margin. And every time a weekend surprises the industry, the pundits come out charging that if you give people what they want at the movies, they will come see it, regardless of the time frame.

The performances of both the other new releases and the holdovers suggest that Labor Day, in particular, seems to be a mystery to the Hollywood distribution community.

Why schedule Balls of Fury, a gaffe-filled silly comedy on the heels of Superbad, when the Apatow-produced movie had been generating buzz the entire summer. Granted Fury drew in a respectable $13.8 million in grosses over the holiday frame, but it clearly suffered from Superbad, which is on its way to both cult classic status and the $100 million mark.

Secondly, why does the Kevin Bacon-starrer Death Sentence open opposite Halloween. Is the marketplace really that packed for the rest of the year that you have to program a thriller opposite a horror movie? Clearly audiences were more interested in seeing Michael Meyers off some innocents then Bacon turn into a vigilante. The James Wan-directed film grossed only $5.2 million over the four-day frame.

And finally, why not program anything for women over this weekend? Not every female is in the kitchen preparing fixings for the summer bbq. Notice that the poor-reviewed Nanny Diaries showed some strength its second frame, earning another $6.3 million, proving that women want to see movies too.

Hollywood did do something right this summer. And that was schedule a lot of movies that audiences did want to see. The tallies are in, and 2007 will go down in the books as the highest-grossing summer ever thanks to seven movies that grossed the $200 million mark and four movies that sailed past $300 million. The total summer number is $4.18 billion-not bad for a town that can’t seem to give audiences a decent line-up over Labor Day.

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