Blackout? What blackout? The loss of power across much of North America didn't put a dent in movie attendance this weekend, as the horror thriller ''Freddy vs. Jason'' scared up a fantastic $36.4 million, according to studio estimates.
After sitting in the dark on Thursday, many people apparently felt inspired to sit in the dark by choice over the weekend, which helped ''Freddy vs. Jason,'' a combination of the ''Nightmare on Elm Street'' and ''Friday the 13th'' films, rack up the biggest opening for either franchise. (Previous bests were $13 million for 1991's ''Freddy's Dead: The Final Nightmare'' and $11.2 million for 1984's ''Friday the 13th Part 4: The Final Chapter.'') Credit a strong marketing campaign for the frighteningly good figure. And expect to see a sequel bringing in ''Halloween'' villain Michael Myers sometime soon.
Second place went to last week's top film, ''S.W.A.T.,'' which fell an expected 50 percent to $18.6 million in its second weekend. After 10 days, the action flick starring Samuel L. Jackson and Colin Farrell has grossed $70.1 million.
Despite opening in the fewest theaters of the four new releases this week, Kevin Costner's Western ''Open Range'' managed the second-highest debut, placing third with $14.1 million. Helped by positive reviews, ''Range'' marks Costner's best opening since ''Message in a Bottle'' earned $16.8 million in 1999.
The family film ''Freaky Friday,'' starring Jamie Lee Curtis, slipped to fourth place, dropping 41 percent to $13.1 million and bringing its two-week total to $57.9 million, while Brittany Murphy's new comedy ''Uptown Girls'' managed a No. 5 debut with $11.2 million. But the week's final new wide release, the skateboarding flick ''Grind,'' flopped with a hideous $2.6 million, making it 12th for the weekend. Blame ''Grind'''s complete lack of stars for its disappointing performance -- though star power didn't help ''Gigli,'' which is all but gone from theaters after only two weeks.