Jeepers! $15.8 million

On the only holiday when movie theaters regularly see a major fall-off in attendance rather than a significant rise, the opening of MGM’s Jeepers Creepers proved to be an exception. The movie grossed an estimated $15.8 million for the four-day weekend, far and away the most ever earned for a Labor Day debut. The previous record was held by The Crow: City of Angels, which opened over the Labor Day holiday in 1996 with $9.8 million. It was the second R-rated film in a month (the other being American Pie 2) that made it to the top of the box-office charts despite seemingly being directed at teens — a fact which has raised suspicions that theaters may again be relaxing their enforcement of the R rating. Another R-rated film, Lion’s Gate’s O, based on Shakespeare’s Othello, debuted at No. 7 with $6.9 million, but its per-screen average of $5,379 was well above expectations. The top 12 films together earned $94.7 million for the four days, up 24 percent above the same period a year ago, according to Exhibitor Relations.

The top ten films for the four-day weekend, according to studio estimates compiled by Exhibitor Relations:

1. Jeepers Creepers, $15.8 million; 2. Rush Hour 2, $11.8 million; 3. American Pie 2, $11.7 million; 4. The Others, $10 million; 5. Rat Race, $9.2 million; 6. The Princess Diaries, $7.6 million; 7. O, $6.9 million; 8. Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, $6.4 million; 9. Summer Catch, $5 million; 10. Captain Corelli’s Mandolin, $4.1 million.