By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
Horror fans remained on the line for "When a Stranger Calls," a remake of the scary movie about a terrorized baby sitter that debuted at No. 1 with $22 million over the typically sluggish Super Bowl weekend.
Distributor Sony, whose Screen Gems banner released "When a Stranger Calls," said it was the best Super Bowl debut ever, beating the $19 million haul the studio's horror flick "Boogeyman" took in over the same weekend last year.
20th Century Fox's "Big Momma's House 2" fell to second place with $13.35 million, lifting its 10-day total to $45.4 million, according to studio estimates Sunday.
The weekend's other new wide release, Focus Features' romantic comedy "Something New," opened at No. 7 with $5 million.
With fans staying home Sunday for the big game, theaters were quiet, though key Academy Awards contenders including Focus Features' best-picture front-runner "Brokeback Mountain" benefited from last week's nominations.
"The Super Bowl is one of thosetelevision events like the Academy Awards that really dominates andmonopolizes the audience," said Paul Dergarabedian, president ofbox-office tracker Exhibitor Relations.
The top 12 movies took in $81.7 million,down 7 percent from Super Bowl weekend last year.
On the heels of its leading eightnominations, the cowboy romance "Brokeback Mountain" expanded toits widest release yet in 2,089 theaters and came in fourth with$5.7 million. The film has taken in $59.8 million domesticallysince debuting in December.
Among other best-picture nominees:
_ Sony Pictures Classics' Truman Capotetale "Capote" nearly quadrupled its theater count to 1,239 andgrossed $2.5 million, increasing its take to $18.2 million.
_ Universal's assassination thriller"Munich," from director Steven Spielberg, expanded slightly to1,151 theaters, grossing $1.9 million and raising its total to$43.1 million.
_ Warner Independent Pictures' Edward R.Murrow drama "Good Night, and Good Luck" went into its widestrelease yet at 929 theaters and took in $1.5 million, pushing itstotal to $26.7 million.
"There's always a segment of theaudience that wants to see all five films nominated for bestpicture," said Steven Friedlander, head of distribution for WarnerIndependent. "It's our American version of the running of the bullsat Pamplona."
The fifth best-picture contender,Lionsgate's ensemble drama "Crash," already is out on DVD.
Though shut out of the best-picturerace, 20th Century Fox's Johnny Cash biography "Walk the Line"climbed back into the top 10 on the strength of acting nominationsfor Joaquin Phoenix and Reese Witherspoon. "Walk the Line" was No.9 with $3.4 million, raising its domestic total to $110.7million.
The Weinstein Co. cashed in onbest-actress nominations for Judi Dench in "Mrs. HendersonPresents" and Felicity Huffman in "Transamerica."
"Mrs. Henderson Presents," about asociety dame who starts a nude stage revue in 1930s London,quintupled its theater count to 260 and grossed just under $1million, raising its total to $3.2 million. "Transamerica," aroad-trip tale about a man preparing for sex-change surgery,expanded to 101 theaters, up 19, and took in $509,000, pushing itstake to $2.2 million.
"When a Stranger Calls" did not screenin advance for critics, the custom when the studio expects badreviews. But fright flicks have a built-in audience of horror fanswho pay little attention to reviews.
Here are estimated ticket sales forFriday through Sunday at U.S. and Canadian theaters, according toExhibitor Relations Co. Inc. Final figures will be releasedMonday.
1. "When a Stranger Calls," $22million.
2. "Big Momma's House 2," $13.35million.
3. "Nanny McPhee," $9.9 million.
4. "Brokeback Mountain," $5.7million.
5. "Hoodwinked," $5.3 million.
6. "Underworld Evolution," $5.1million.
7. "Something New," $5 million.
8. "Annapolis," $3.5 million. 9. "Walkthe Line," $3.4 million.
10. "Glory Road," $3 million.