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''Prom Night'' is box office queen

As the overall box office slid further into a slump, the horror remake scared up a decisive weekend win with $22.7 mil, beating Keanu Reeves’ ”Street Kings” and two-time champ ”21”

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Brittany Snow, Prom Night
Suzanne Tenner

Prom Night was the belle of the ball at the box office this weekend, far outpacing all other new releases and holding off two-time winner 21 to go home with the crown.

The PG-13 rated fright flick grossed $22.7 million, according to Sunday’s estimates. That’s the top take for a straight scary movie (as opposed to the monster flick Cloverfield or the sci-fi action thriller I Am Legend) since Saw IV brought in $31.8 mil on its opening weekend way back in October. Among horror remakes Prom Night fared better than everything since Halloween scared up $26.4 mil in its debut last summer. And it did all of this while drawing a mere B- CinemaScore from an audience that was two-thirds under the age of 25 and a whopping 60 percent female. Which at once explains its great gross this weekend — and portends a steep drop next time around.

Premiering at No. 2 was Keanu ReevesStreet Kings. The gritty urban drama earned $12 mil, a sum that fails to match the $13.6 mil first-weekend take of the star’s last wide opener, 2006’s The Lake House. In fact, considering all of Reeves’ recent major releases, this had the weakest debut since Hardball bowed with a mere $9.4 mil seven years ago.

A handful of holdovers rounded out the top five. Reigning champ 21 fell to third place in its third weekend with $11 mil on a slight 28 percent decline. Also losing little business from a week ago was Nim’s Island (No. 4), which banked $9 mil on a minimal 32 percent falloff. But George Clooney’s Leatherheads (No. 5) got sacked again, dropping 51 percent to bring in just $6.2 mil. (All of these results, mind you, are pretty much in line with my predictions from Friday. Go me!) And the Dennis Quaid-Sarah Jessica Parker indie romance Smart People (No. 7) thought up a good-enough $4.2 mil in 1,106 locations. (Well, okay, that movie did a lot better than I thought it would. Go it!)

Two smaller releases, meanwhile, enjoyed nice premieres. The Visitor, writer/director Tom McCarthy’s well-reviewed followup to The Station Agent, earned a sweet average of $22,096 in four theaters. Also in four venues, the also well-reviewed old-people-singing-punk-songs documentary Young@Heart averaged $13,078.

Overall, however, the cumulative returns were once again off 20 percent from the comparable frame a year ago — the eighth ”down” weekend out of the last nine. What’s more, the year-to-date figure is now down 3 percent from the first 15 weeks of 2007. Now, Hollywood-studio execs may warn against claiming too soon that the sky is falling, but I look back on these figures and then look ahead to a summer relatively lacking in many sequels or major franchise fare…and I’m getting ready to scream ”Henny Penny!”