‘Halloween’ scares up record debut

? “Halloween” came early and closed Hollywood’s strong summer season with a record-breaking Labor Day weekend debut.

Rob Zombie’s new take on John Carpenter’s 1978 horror sensation “Halloween” slashed its way to a $31 million haul over the four-day weekend, surpassing the $20.1 million gross for 2005’s “Transporter 2,” which had held the record for best Labor Day opening.

Released by the Weinstein Co. and MGM, “Halloween” also topped the $29 million Labor Day gross for 1999’s “The Sixth Sense,” which had been the biggest-grossing movie over the holiday. That blockbuster ghost story was in its fifth weekend when Labor Day came around.

Led by “Halloween,” Hollywood set a new overall record for Labor Day, with the top 12 movies taking in $119.6 million, surpassing the previous high of $106.1 million in 2003.

“‘Halloween’ was far beyond anything we’ve seen on Labor Day,” said Paul Dergarabedian, president of box-office tracker Media By Numbers. “It was just a perfect ending to a perfect summer. Hopefully, we can do this every year.”

The industry finished the summer season with record receipts of $4.18 billion since the first weekend in May.

“Halloween” will turn a tidy profit even if it follows the pattern of most horror films and drops off quickly in subsequent weekends. The movie was shot on a modest $15 million budget, meaning it took in twice its production costs in just four days.

Estimated ticket sales for Friday through Monday at U.S. and Canadian theaters, according to Media By Numbers LLC (final figures will be released Tuesday):

  1. Halloween,” $31 million
  2. Superbad,” $15.6 million
  3. Balls of Fury,” $13.8 million
  4. The Bourne Ultimatum,” $13.2 million
  5. Rush Hour 3,” $10.4 million
  6. Mr. Bean’s Holiday,” $8.1 million
  7. The Nanny Diaries,” $6.4 million
  8. Death Sentence,” $5.2 million
  9. War,” $5.1 million
  10. Stardust,” $3.9 million