Cheap scares continue to frighten the daylights out of Hollywood's biggest stars and pricier competition.
Robert De Niro and Michelle Pfeiffer became the latest casualties of low-budget terror as the critically panned, $5 million sequel Insidious Chapter 2 devoured their Mob comedy The Family this weekend at the box office.
Insidious collected $41.1 million, according to studio estimates, coasting to an easy win at theaters and marking the latest fright flick shot on a shoestring budget to vanquish competing movies with deeper wallets.
Analysts already were expecting solid numbers from Insidious, which follows June's $3 million The Purge and January's $15 million Mama, both of which became surprise No. 1 hits.
Forecasters expected Insidious to do $25 million. By Friday night, it had already scared up $20 million.
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Ray Subers of Box Office Mojo says the film proved invulnerable to critics' barbs - only 37% of the nation's reviewers liked the sequel, says Rottentomatoes.com - because fans were already sold on the haunted house story from the 2011 original, which did $54 million.
And the calendar didn't hurt, Subers says.
He says the Patrick Wilson film surged by "combining goodwill from the first movie with a Friday the 13th release date." The fortuitous timing "gives the impression that this is a major horror event," Subers says.
The debut was major enough to leave De Niro and Pfeiffer accepting silver medals. The $30 million Family took second place with $14.5 million, beating most analysts' modest expectations.
The Vin Diesel sci-fi thriller Riddick took third with $7 million, followed by Lee Daniels' The Butler with $5.6 million.
Jennifer Aniston's comedy We're the Millers rounded out the top five with $5.4 million.
Final figures are expected Monday.
Scott Bowles, USA TODAY