Off to a strong start following its Friday, October 9 release, Universal Pictures' romantic comedy "Couples Retreat" debuted atop the North American box office. With no other new releases as its competition, the movie that was projected to open in the $20 million range exceeded expectation by pulling in $34.3 million worth of ticket sales.
The solid opening gave this Vince Vaughn's movie the highest-grossing Columbus Day weekend gross on record, besting over "Meet the Parents". And, despite the negative reviews, it also became Universal's first strong domestic opening since "Fast and Furious" in April, and marked Vaughn's best opening since "The Break-Up" in 2006.
Commenting on "Couples" success in landing the top slot was Universal's head of distribution Nikki Rocco. Of the movie that stars also Jason Bateman, Kristin Davis, Kristen Bell and Malin Akerman, the studio topper said, "I feel pretty good today. Happy to have a hit. It happened at the right time, because it did lift our spirits, having the summer we had."
Although "Couples" opened #1 at the chart, the biggest surprise came from "Paranormal Activity". While distributor Paramount Pictures hasn't gone wide with the release, the horror movie from director Oren Peli shot to fourth place with $7.9 million. The big number came after the studio expanded it into daylong release after two weeks of midnight-only screenings.
Shot for a reported $11,000 over the period of one week, "Paranormal" was played in narrow release of just 160 cinemas. "You almost do a double take when you look at that theater count for a movie in the top five," box-office analyst for Hollywood.com Paul Dergarabedian pointed out the incredible success the movie garnered. "That's amazing. That's unprecedented."
Meanwhile, last week champ "Zombieland" slipped one slot to the second position. After grabbing $24.7 million in the opening weekend, the Ruben Fleischer-directed horror comedy for Sony Pictures dropped 40.2% on ticket sales to $14.8 million. The second week bow brought the Woody Harrelson-starring movie to the 10-day total of $47.6 million.
Beside "Zombieland", Sony has another movie in the top five list, "Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs". The 3-D animation suffered only a 27.1% decline in ticket sales which made it to collect $11.5 million to the total of $95.8 million after four weeks in theaters. In the meantime, the fifth place belonged to "Toy Story/Toy Story 2 (3D)". The double feature movie grabbed $7.8 million.
Top Ten Movies at Box Office for October 9 - 11: