The big question going into the box-office weekend was whether the Scream franchise still had lungs.
The answer was sorta—and sorta not.
Scream 4 debuted in second place in the standings with an estimated $19.3 million.
"That [opening-weekend] number is below everyone's expectations," BoxOffice.com editor Phil Contrino said in an email. "Resurrecting a franchise is a tricky thing to do, and I think this proves that you can never take a fan base for granted."
Scream 4 arrived 11 years after Scream 3 scored a No. 1 box-office finish with a $34.7 million weekend.
This weekend, the animated Rio, as expected, was in the top spot. The film's $40 million opening is as blockbuster as Hollywood has gotten lately, with Rio edging past Rango for the biggest Friday-Sunday of the year.
It is overseas, however, where Rio is really impressing. Worldwide, the reputedly $90 million talking-animal comedy has already grossed $168 million by Variety's count.
Elsewhere, Robert Redford's 1865-style JFK, The Conspirator, snuck into the Top 10, selling about as many tickets at its 707 theaters as Scream 4 at its 3,305. The Tea Party-courting Atlas Shrugged: Part I did even better, screen for screen, grossing $1.7 million at 299 self-determined locations.
Overall, the box office was up over the same weekend last year. So maybe Scream 4 did help save Hollywood, after all.
Here's a complete rundown of the top-grossing films, per Friday-Sunday numbers as compiled by Exhibitor Relations.