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High School Musical 3: Zac Efron, Vanessa Hudgens, Ashley Tisdale, Jason Williams


The Wildcats rallied.

High School Musical 3: Senior Year overcame a weak Halloween night to gross $15 million for the weekend, and remain atop the box-office standings, per studio estimates compiled today by Exhibitor Relations.

Elsewhere, Kevin Smith's Zack and Miri Make a Porno enjoyed the optimal Kevin Smithian debut ($10.7 million), while the Clint Eastwood-directed Angelina Jolie mystery, Changeling, enjoyed the best theater-for-theater performance of any film in wide release ($9.4 million).

Most of the other numbers were scary.

Both HSM3 and Saw V ($10.1 million) saw business nosedive more than 60 percent from last weekend.

The Haunting of Molly Hartley ($6 million) , featuring Gossip Girl's Chace Crawford, was about as widely appealing as a CW show, which is to say it wasn't. (On the other hand, the teen flick only cost about $5 million to produce.)

After three successful weeks in limited release, Guy Ritchie's RocknRolla endured an unsuccessful week in wide release ($1.8 million).

Overall, ticket sales for the top movies were down nearly 40 percent from the same weekend last year. Things would have been worse for if HSM3, which grossed only $1.7 million on Friday, hadn't rebounded with an $8.3 million Saturday. 

If Hollywood is thankful trick-or-treating only lasts one night, it's probably even more thankful holiday movie season arrives next weekend.

Here's a look at the hits—and misses—of the just-completed fall box office:

  • Shia LaBeouf's Eagle Eye ($92.5 million overall) made the most money. 
  • Kirk Cameron's Fireproof ($26.1 million) made the most eye-popping money off a $500,000 budget.
  • The Coen Brothers' Burn After Reading ($59 million) made more money than far more conventional movies (and most Coen Brothers movies, too). 
  • The $20 million Beverly Hills Chihuahua ($84.1 million) made more money than Leonardo DiCaprio and Russell Crowe's $70 million Body of Lies ($34.6 million). 
  • Very quietly, Richard Gere and Diane Lanes Nights in Rodanthe ($40.3 million) also made more money than Body of Lies.
  •  Not to rub it in, but Robert De Niro and Al Pacino's Righteous Kill ($39.4 million) outgrossed Body of Lies, too. 
  • Oliver Stone's W. ($22.4 million), which, storywise, was more Nixon than JFK, was, gross-wise, more Nixon ($13.7 million) than JFK ($70.4 million). 
  • Bill Maher's religion-mocking documentary Religulous ($11.5 million) outgrossed an inspirational football biopic (The Express, $9.6 million), a World War II drama (Miracle at St. Anna, $7.8 million), a family-friendly fantasy (City of Ember, $7.3 million), and a real-America celebrating comedy (An American Carol, $7 million).

Here's a recap of the top-grossing weekend films based on Friday-Sunday estimates compiled by Exhibitor Relations:

  1. High School Musical 3: Senior Year, $15 million
  2. Zack and Miri Make a Porno, $10.7 million
  3. Saw V, $10.1 million
  4. Changeling, $9.4 million
  5. The Haunting of Molly Hartley, $6 million
  6. Beverly Hills Chihuahua, $4.7 million
  7. The Secret Life of Bees, $4 million
  8. Max Payne, $3.7 million
  9. Eagle Eye, $3.4 million
  10.  Pride and Glory, $3.3 million