Los Angeles A cartoon bear and deer talked their way to the top of the box office as Martin Lawrence and Ashton Kutcher's animated comedy "Open Season" debuted with $23 million.
Kutcher also finished in second place with Disney's "The Guardian," in which he co-stars with Kevin Costner as Coast Guard rescue swimmers. The action drama opened with $17.7 million, according to studio estimates Sunday.
The previous weekend's leading flick, Paramount's "Jackass Number Two," fell to third place with $14 million, raising its 10-day total to $51.5 million.
The weekend's other new wide release, the MGM-Weinstein Co. comedy "School for Scoundrels," opened at No. 4 with $9.1 million. The movie stars Jon Heder ("Napoleon Dynamite") as a wimpy meter maid caught up in a war of wills with a con man (Billy Bob Thornton) who teaches an extreme confidence-building class.
Hollywood snapped out of a box-office lull that had persisted most of September. The top-12 movies took in $85.1 million, up 13 percent from the same weekend last year.
"It sort of broke the little mini-fall slump we were in," said Paul Dergarabedian, president of box-office tracker Exhibitor Relations.
Sony scored a record 11th movie debuting at No. 1 this year with "Open Season," featuring the voice of Lawrence as a domesticated bear uprooted from his cozy home and hurled into the wild, where he's befriended by a slick-talking deer (Kutcher).
"Open Season" was the debut release from Sony Pictures Animation, a unit the studio hopes to establish as a regular producer of digital cartoons alongside such industry pioneers as Pixar Animation and DreamWorks Animation.
Estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday at U.S. and Canadian theaters, according to Exhibitor Relations Co. Inc.:
1. "Open Season," $23 million.
2. "The Guardian," $17.7 million.
3. "Jackass Number Two," $14 million.
4. "School for Scoundrels," $9.1 million.
5. "Jet Li's Fearless," $4.7 million.
6. "Gridiron Gang," $4.5 million.
7. "The Illusionist," $2.8 million.
8. "Flyboys," $2.3 million.
9. "The Black Dahlia," $2.1 million.
10. "Little Miss Sunshine," $2 million.