"From Hell," 20th Century Fox's movie starring Johnny Depp as a Scotland Yard detective on the trail of Jack the Ripper, performed in line with expectations with a marketing campaign that took advantage of the coming of Halloween. The movie, directed by Allen and Albert Hughes, received strong reviews.
"The film clearly was able to connect with young males and horror fans," said analyst Arthur Rockwell of Rockwell Capital Management.
"From Hell" edged out Sony's opening of "Riding in Cars With Boys," a domestic drama starring Drew Barrymore and based on the writings of author Beverly Donofrio, with $10.8 million at 2,770 theaters. The film debuted amid mixed notices.
"It looks as if there was enough star power to help attract a female audience," Rockwell said.
Two-time winner "Training Day" dropped to third with $9.5 million at 2,603 theaters to give the Warner Bros. release a total of $57.5 million after 17 days. It lost only 29 percent from its second weekend, showing that it will linger as a solid performer for several more weeks.
MGM's second weekend of "Bandits" followed with $8.4 million at 3,207 sites to hit $25 million overall.
DreamWorks' opening of military drama "The Last Castle," starring Robert Redford as a leader of a revolt in a military prison, finished a lukewarm fifth with $7.1 million at 2,262 theaters. Rockwell said the lackluster performance should not be tied to a trend of moviegoers turning away from military-themed fare following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. "The movie did not do particularly well because the story failed to generate much interest among potential customers," he said.
Miramax's third weekend of romantic comedy "Serendipity" took sixth with $5.8 million at 2,610 theaters, edging Disney's second weekend of "Corky Romano" with $5.3 million at 2,094 sites. Fox's fourth weekend of "Don't Say a Word" continued its solid performance with $4.4 million to finish eighth and has gone past $48 million in 24 days.
Rounding out of the top 10 were Paramount's fourth weekend of "Zoolander" with $3.3 million at 2,285 theaters and Miramax's second weekend of "Iron Monkey" with $3.2 million at 1,235 sites.
With the top 10 taking in about $68 million, up slightly over the same weekend last year when the third weekend of "Meet the Parents" led with $16 million.
"Overall business was respectable for this time of year," Rockwell said. "It's not great but it's certainly decent. There weren't any big expectations with any of these new films."
On the art-house circuit, Paramount Classics' drama ''Focus,'' based on Arthur Miller's novel, took in $26,000 from two New York theaters. Fox Searchlight's animated drama "Waking Life" grossed $88,000 at four sites.
"From Hell" will face competition next weekend from a pair of horror films -- New Lines's ''Bones'' and Warner's "Thirteen Ghosts'' along with Miramax's romantic comedy "On The Line'' and Universal's science-fiction drama ''K-PAX'' with Kevin Spacey.