February 21, 2010 at 06:00 PM EST

With no other wide releases to challenge it, Martin Scorsese’s Shutter Island dominated the box office this weekend with a $40.2 million take. That’s a career best for both the director and star Leonardo DiCaprio, neither of whom had scored a sizable hit since their last outing together on The Departed, which opened to $26.9 million in 2006. The victory is especially sweet for studio Paramount, which had to contend with suspicion about the movie’s quality and commercial potential after nixing a slated Oct. 2009 release date last year. (The studio officially blamed the move on marketing expenses.) But the switch also generated curiosity about the project among fans of DiCaprio, Scorsese, and horror pics — all of whom packed theaters this weekend.

Coming in a distant second, Valentine’s Day managed to woo another $17.2 million despite losing plenty of love from audiences, who let the movie drop a steep 69.5 percent from its holiday debut last week. Still, the star-packed rom-com’s lack of legs (figurative, not physical) likely won’t have any effect on Warner Bro’s plans to roll out more holiday-themed extravaganzas in the near future. The weekend’s two other sophomore pics also suffered substantial drops: Percy Jackson (number four, $15.3 million) dipped 51 percent, while Universal’s The Wolfman (number five, $9.8 million) lost 68.7 percent of its audience. Meanwhile, Avatar managed another record-breaking performance in its 10th weekend, dipping just 31.8 percent for a third-place finish with $16.1 million.

The weekend’s only other new release, Roman Polanski’s The Ghost Writer, banked a decent $179k from four theaters thanks to media attention surrounding the director’s continuing legal troubles.

More box office news:

‘Shutter Island’ tops Friday box office with $14 million

Box office preview: Long-awaited ‘Shutter Island’ likely to win the weekend

Box office: ‘Valentine’s Day’ dominates record-breaking weekend

Image Credit: Andrew Cooper

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