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'The Final Destination' wins Labor Day box office race with $15.4 million

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final-destination-3d_lIt happens every year: Memorial Day kicks off the summer with a box office bang, and Labor Day ends it with a whimper. While overall numbers were up compared to this frame in 2008, audiences didn’t show much enthusiasm for anything at the multiplex this weekend. Three wide-release newcomers—All About Steve, Gamer, and Extract—grossed just $30.4 million combined, while holdovers The Final Destination, Inglourious Basterds, and District 9 took three of the top five slots. Here’s how it played out over the four-day weekend (Friday-Monday):

1. The Final Destination — $15.4 million

Despite the short shelf-life of most teen horror pics, this 3-D sequel kept its grip on fans thanks to a dearth of exciting new offerings. The fourth chapter in the horror series has already earned $50.6 million in two weekends, putting it on track to become the franchise’s highest grosser, easily beating 2006’s Final Destination 3 ($54.1 million).

2. Inglourious Basterds — $15 million

With $95.2 million and counting, Quentin Tarantino’s gonzo WWII epic continued to show great legs in its third weekend as it marched steadily toward the $100 million mark. It’s another feather in star Brad Pitt’s box office cap, but the news is especially good for Tarantino, who hasn’t had a $100 million-plus hit since 1994’s Pulp Fiction ($107.9 million), and studio The Weinstein Company, which could use the bragging rights after fending off rumors of financial ruin earlier this year.

3. All About Steve — $13.9 million

This off-kilter rom com—the only movie in the top five without an R-rating—was hindered by scathing reviews. But it still scored the highest per-screen average in the top ten ($6,175 from 2,251 sites)  thanks to good will for stars Sandra Bullock and Bradley Cooper, both of whom are still riding high from massive summer smashes: Her Proposal made $270.8 million worldwide, while his Hangover raked in $421.1 million.

4. Gamer — $11.2 million

Gerard Butler’s action spectacle earned exactly what action spectacles tend to earn over Labor Day. For example, the Vin Diesel flop Babylon A.D. took in $11.5 million over the four-day weekend last year, while Jason Statham’s Crank made $12.9 million in 2006.

5. District 9 — $9 million

The South African sci fi saga finally broke the $100 million mark this weekend thanks to a minuscule 12 percent drop—a sure sign of good buzz for the underdog hit.

The week’s other new wide release, Extract (No. 10, $5.3 million), failed to find much of an audience thanks to grim reviews. But that’s business as usual for writer-director Mike Judge, whose cult hit Office Space bowed to just $4.2 million back in 1999 (Extract‘s three-day haul this weekend was a near-identical $4.4 million).

More box office news:

Box office report: ‘The Final Destination’ tops three-day estimates

Box office report: ‘The Final Destination’ barely beats ‘All About Steve’ for the Friday box office crown

Box office preview: Will ‘Gamer’ shoot to the top?