Samuel L. Jackson's thriller won another quiet weekend at the box office, easily defeating fellow newcomers ''My Best Friend's Girl,'' ''Igor,'' and ''Ghost Town''
Patrick Wilson, Samuel L. Jackson, ...

Lakeview Terrace

Samuel L. Jackson‘s Lakeview Terrace defeated a trove of weak new competitors to walk away with the win this weekend, as the box office returned to its moribund ways.

The domestic thriller, costarring Kerry Washington and Patrick Wilson, brought in a decent and anticipated $15.6 million, according to Sunday’s estimates. That’s the top debut ever for director Neil LaBute — which isn’t much of a surprise considering the fact that the caustic filmmaker is best known for churning out independent fare like In the Company of Men and Your Friends and Neighbors. (His previous best debut was the $9.6 mil first-weekend take of his only other major-studio release, 2006’s The Wicker Man.) But LaBute & Co. should enjoy their moment in the sun now, because with a poor C+ CinemaScore review from a generally older audience, Lakeview Terrace is certain to quickly move out of that tony neighborhood otherwise known as the top of the box office.

Last weekend’s winner, Burn After Reading (No. 2), held strong with $11.3 mil on a mere 41 percent decline. The Coen Brothers-Brad Pitt farce has banked a nice $36.4 mil in 10 days.

And, well, the really good news basically ended there. The Dane CookKate Hudson rom-com, My Best Friend’s Girl (No. 3), failed to live up to low expectations, grossing just $8.3 mil. Even more heartbreaking: The movie got a Dear John letter (i.e. a B- CinemaScore grade) from an audience that was two-thirds women. Next on the chart was the animated flick Igor (No. 4), which brewed up an okay $8 mil debut from a family crowd that gave it a nice A- CinemaScore review. And the Al PacinoRobert De Niro cop drama Righteous Kill rounded out the top five with a decent $7.7 mil gross in its second frame.

Ricky Gervais‘ supernatural comedy Ghost Town (No. 8) haunted the lower reaches of the weekend chart, earning a mere $5.2 mil from an audience that was 61 percent women and a whopping 80 percent older than age 25 (they gave it an okay B+ CinemaScore mark). Put into perspective, on this weekend last year, the Amanda Bynes comedy Sydney White opened with $5.2 mil as well. Remember that movie?

In actual fact, however, there were a few more winners to be found in the art houses this weekend. Cowriter-director-star Ed Harris‘ Western, Appaloosa, grossed $258,000 in 14 locations (that’s a galloping good $18,429 per-venue take). And Keira Knightley‘s costume drama The Duchess averaged $28,932 in seven theaters.

Overall, the box office was down about 4 percent from a year ago, when Resident Evil: Extinction led the way. Ah, how Hollywood must long for the splendorous days of Resident Evil.

Lakeview Terrace
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