The thriller about four teenagers who are stalked after trying to cover up a hit-and-run accident had a estimated $16.1 million in debut ticket sales.
"Devil's Advocate," starring Al Pacino and Keanu Reeves, was No. 2, earning a estimated $12.2 million in its first weekend of wide release, according to estimates from Exhibitor Relations Co. Inc.
"I Know What You Did Last Summer" had the second biggest October opening ever, behind the $16.7 million earned by "Stargate" in 1994.
Another murder-thriller, "Kiss the Girls," starring Morgan Freeman and Ashley Judd, held its own, coming in at No. 3 after three weeks. It earned $7 million for a total of $39.2 million.
The slew of pre-Halloween thrillers hurt "Devil's Advocate" despite its heavyweight cast, said Robert Bucksbaum, a spokesman for Reel Source Inc., a newsletter for industry insiders and movie theater owners.
The adolescent-to-young-adult crowd also wielded considerable clout in the case of "I Know What You Did Last Summer," he said.
"We're witnessing the awakening of the sleeping giant, the 15-to-22-year-old date-crowd market," Bucksbaum said. "This is the same audience that turned out in droves for last year's 'Scream' and 'Romeo and Juliet.' And because this is the only film specifically targeted for this audience, that's why we believe it did so well."
Brad Pitt's "Seven Years in Tibet," dropped to No. 4 in its second week with $6.57 million. "Playing God," with David Duchovny as a doctor for bad guys, had a paltry $2 million. It failed to open in the Top 10, edged out by British comedy "Bean," playing only in Canada and overseas for now.
"Bean," starring Rowan Atkinson as a down-and-out museum employee who ends up saving the day, grossed $2.25 million. It is scheduled to open in the United States in November. "We think it's going to do really well here, as well," Bucksbaum said, noting that Atkinson has a strong following from his PBS and HBO specials.
Overall, it was another big weekend for movies, said Art Rockwell, an analyst with Yaeger Capital Markets. Every weekend since July 20 has had higher sales than comparable weekends a year ago, Rockwell said. In 1996, ticket sales were up 6 percent over 1995, he said. By comparison, in the first nine months of this year, sales are up nine percent.
The final weekend box office figures were to be released Monday. Here are estimates for Friday through Sunday for movies released in North America:
1) "I Know What You Did Last Summer," $16.1 million.
2) "Devil's Advocate," $12.2 million.
3) "Kiss the Girls," #7 million.
4) "Seven Years in Tibet," $6.5 million.
5) "In & Out," $3.9 million.
6) "Soul Food," $3.5 million.
7) "Rocket Man," $3 million.
8) "The Peacemaker," $2.8 million.
9) "L.A. Confidental," $2.7 million.
10) "Bean," $2.3 million.
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Buffy the Vampire Slayer,