‘Final Destination’ No. 1 at box office

For many, the creative relevance of 3-D cinema remains very much an open question. But when the history of Hollywood’s 21st century embrace of 3-D is written, it very well may point to this weekend as the moment when the format definitively established its commercial power at the box office.

Despite a moviegoing weekend dominated with R-rated violent thriller-type films ostensibly shooting for the same audience, “The Final Destination” scared up by far the most box office receipts, banking $28.3 million for an easy No. 1 berth, according to early estimates from Hollywood.com Box Office. That’s almost $10 million better than the opening frame for the last film in the creatively-dispatching-model-perfect-unknown-actors franchise (which, for those keeping track, was “Final Destination 3”). There’s really only one reason why: Although just over half its 3,121 theaters were screening the flick in 3-D, fully 70 percent of its box office take was from 3-D theaters, which typically charge an extra few bucks per ticket for the privilege of watching the film with those comfy stereoscopic glasses. Rest assured, despite its title (and its abysmal “C” Cinemascore grade), this is by no means the final “Final Destination” movie. The folks at the The Weinstein Company, meanwhile, continue to enjoy good news for their much scrutinized bottom line: Quentin Tarantino’s “Inglourious Basterds” landed at No. 2 with a rather spectacular $20 million, just 47 percent down from its opening weekend for $73.7 million total.

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TWC’s sister company Dimension Films, meanwhile, saw its “Halloween II” debut at third with a nothing-to-sneeze-at $17.4 million. Granted, director Rob Zombie’s second re-imagining of the 31-years-old slasher franchise made nothing close to the $30.6 million Labor Day weekend debut of Zombie’s first night out with Michael Myers. But given the steep competition, and the film’s $15 million budget, Dimension must be breathing a sigh of relief that their film will most likely see a decent profit. The box office love continued through much of the weekend’s top 10: District 9 dropped just 41 percent with $10.7 million, strong enough to hold on at fourth place and, with a $90.8 mil running total, well on its way to joining the $100 million club. At number five, “G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra” banged out $8 million, a 34 percent drop and $132 million total. And Julie & Julia savored a tiny 16 percent drop for sixth, with $7.4 million in its forth weekend for $70.9 million total. In fact, the only true disappointment for the weekend was Focus Features’ “Taking Woodstock.” Director Ang Lee’s trip back to the iconic three-day concert debuted at ninth with just $3.7 million, doubly disappointing since it opened wide in 1,393 theaters (after a Wednesday opening in New York and Los Angeles), with a feeble $2,691 per theater average. By contrast, two limited release debuts did rather well: Vogue magazine documentary “The September Issue” bowed on six screens with a very fashionable $40,000 per theater average; and the extreme-sports-fandom-gone-wrong dramedy “Big Fan” won $13,000 per theater on two screens.