SUNDAY UPDATE: Jack and Marty are back with big box office and big Oscar hopes. But Jessica jumped the shark with disappointing box opening numbers for her pic Employee of the Month. Warner Bros. opened wide (3,017 theaters) with Scorsese’s The Departed starring Nicholson, Matt Damon, Mark Wahlberg and Leonardo DiCaprio. It’s the best-reviewed Scorsese movie since his Goodfellas, which Warner’s also released back in 1990. Not only was The Departed the No. 1 movie this weekend, but it’s also a top Oscar-touted contender already — and good box office will only help Scorsese to finally win that Best Director award which has long eluded him. The Departed opened with $8.5 million on Friday and $10.5 mil on Saturday for what was a $25.8 million weekend. (As usual, weekend figures include Sunday estimates). Not quite as much as predicted, but still impressive considering its “R” rating and 2 1/2-hour running time. The numbers were Scorsese’s biggest, which wasn’t hard. (His previous box office best, Cape Fear, earned $10.2 million its 1991 opening weekend). Another “R”-rated movie opening this weekend, New Line’s grisly Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning was #2 in 2,820 theaters. It debuted with $7.3 mil on Friday and 6.6 mil on Saturday for a $19.4 mil weekend, far less than TCM1‘s $28 mil. As I predicted, Sony’s kiddie fare holdover, Open Season, jumped from #4 after Friday’s revenues came in, to #3 today, because of the usual rug rat Saturday bump. It took in $3.9 mil Friday and $6.9 mil Saturday to add an impressive $15.9 mil to its cume, which is now $44 mil. That easily whipped Lionsgate’s critically panned comedy Employee of the Month starring Jessica Simpson and Dane Cook and playing in 2,579 theaters. The pic, earning $4.1 mil on Friday and $4.3 mil on Saturday, had only a $11.5 mil weekend, which must be roughly equivalent to what its female star spends on boots annually. This tanking shows that Jessica still can’t make the jump from music to movies, and HBO phenom Dane can’t draw his college campus crowds to the big screen. Disney holdover The Guardian was #5, down 50% with an additional $2.9 mil on Friday and $4.1 mil on Saturday for what was $9.7 mil added to its cume, now at $32 mil. Paramount’s Jackass Number Two came in 6th place, nadding $7 mil over the weekend for a three-week cume of $63.3 mil. Meanwhile, two other Oscar contenders are platforming nicely: Miramax’s The Queen starring Helen Mirren (a shoo-in for a Best Actress nod) is playing in 11 theaters with a per screen average of $35,452 for Saturday, and New Line’s Little Children starring Kate Winslet, is playing in 5 theaters, with a per screen average of $21,115 for Saturday.
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