Box Office: ‘Puss in Boots’ scratches its way to no. 1 Friday

Opening a big movie on Halloween weekend is always scary for any studio, but looking to distance itself from other family flicks in November, DreamWorks Animation decided to make a gutsy move and plant its latest tentpole on the Friday before the big holiday.  Granted, Halloween is on Monday, but many kids will trick or treat on Saturday and Sunday while their parents head to parties on Saturday night.  That could severely diminish this weekend’s returns.  Still, the critically acclaimed “Puss in Boots” had a solid start Friday with $9.6 million.  The Antonio Banderas and Salma Hayek voiced adventure could wind up with anywhere between $35 and $38 million weekend depending on how the previously discussed factors affect moviegoing over the three-day.

Perfectly timed for the holiday, “Paranormal Activity 3” still scared up enough business to land in the second slot.  The $5 million budgeted threequel found another $6.5 million on Friday for a shocking $66.5 million in just eight days.  Even with subsequent big horror movie drops over the next few weekends, it’s hard to see “PA 3” not crossing the $100 million mark.

Faring much less successfully was 20th Century Fox’s “In Time” in third. The Andrew Niccol Sci-Fi thriller actually received a far share of positive reviews, but even with a strong media spend Fox couldn’t generate more than $4.3 million in interest on Friday.  Is the verdict in on Justin Timberlake’s movie career?  Hollywood will likely give him one more chance in the leading man slot after mixed returns for “Friends with Benefits” this summer and now “In Time” bombing (“Bad Teacher” doesn’t count as Timberlake was excised from almost all of the marketing as to not conflict with “Friends”).

Debuting in fourth was the Johnny Depp triply comedy “The Rum Diary.”  Depp barely promoted the film (why is still unclear), but the solidly reviewed flick grossed $1.8 million Friday for what could be a $5- million weekend.  That’s not what studio FilmDistrict was hoping for.

“Footloose” danced its way into a tie with “Rum Diary” also making $1.8 million and $34.1 million overall to date..  The remake of the ’80s favorite is losing steam, but should eventually hit the $50 million mark.

Look for complete weekend estimates Sunday on HitFix.