Dave Karger's online-only report: The ''Saw'' sequel scared away the box office competition
Saw II

So much for that close race at the box office this weekend. Fright fans looking for a pre-Halloween scare flocked to Saw II, helping the horror flick gross a fantastic $30.5 million, according to studio estimates.

That tally far surpassed most analysts’ predictions (I pegged it at $21 million) and was about two-thirds higher than the $18.3 million debut of the first Saw. If you ask me, the only reason to check out Saw II would be to see if any movie could possibly be worse than Saw, but apparently there are a few million young male fans who would disagree with me on that.

The Legend of Zorro, meanwhile, placed second with a debut of $16.5 million, a significant downtick from the $22.5 million The Mask of Zorro grossed in its first weekend in 1998. The lesson learned here is that sometimes it’s simply too late to come out with a sequel, unless you’re part of a huge franchise like Batman.

Meryl Streep and Uma Thurman’s comedy Prime opened disappointingly as expected, premiering with $6.4 million, just ahead of the horseracing drama Dreamer, which slipped 31 percent in its second weekend to $6.3 million. Wallace and Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit rounded out the top five with $4.4 million, meaning Nicolas Cage’s drama The Weather Man had to settle for sixth place with only $4.2 million. The film did have the lowest theater count of the weekend’s four new releases, but it also had the worst per-theater average of the group. I’m no meteorologist, but it must have been chilly in those theaters.

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