Exorcist: The Beginning: Sergio Strizzi
Dave Karger
August 21, 2004 AT 04:00 AM EDT

Frights proved more popular than laughs at the box office this weekend, as “Exorcist: The Beginning” bested “Without a Paddle” for the No. 1 spot.

The “Exorcist” prequel grossed $18.2 million in its first three days, while the comedic “Paddle,” also in its debut weekend, had to settle for second place with $13.7 million. “Exorcist”’s figure is the lowest for a No. 1 movie since Easter weekend in early April, when “The Passion of the Christ” topped the charts in its seventh weekend with $15.2 million.

“The Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement” fell 43 percent in its second weekend to $13.2 million, while last week’s top film, “Alien vs. Predator,” plummeted 67 percent to $12.5 million.

Meanwhile, the low-budget scarefest “Open Water” expanded nationwide after two weeks in limited release and grossed $11.8 million, good enough for fifth place.

Don’t expect any bigger numbers next weekend: Two of its wide releases are sequels to “Anaconda” and “Baby Geniuses.” Somehow I doubt you’re calling ahead for tickets.

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