"I think it has more to do with the subject matter than the stars," Paul Dergarabedian, president of box-office tracker Exhibitor Relations, told The Associated Press Sunday. "School of Rock has a younger, school-age appeal. Black's like a big kid, like an Adam Sandler-type persona. Irreverent, funny, bucks the establishment. That brings in younger audiences."
Indeed. School of Rock's melodious take was also enough to make it the fifth best October opener ever, ousting the sci-fi comedy K-Pax. School of Rock follows the likes of October champ Red Dragon, which debuted in 2002 with $36.5 million; the 2000 comedy Meet the Parents, with $28.6 million; the 2002 comedy Jackass: The Movie, with $22.7 million; and the 2001 drama Training Day with $22.5 million.
Last week's box office topper, the jungle actioner The Rundown, dropped to third place with $9.7 million, followed by the sun-drenched romantic comedy Under the Tuscan Sun with $7.9 million. The family drama Secondhand Lions rounded out the Top Five with tame $5.3 million.
THE TOP TEN
Paramount Pictures' PG-13 rated rock 'n' roll comedy School of Rock debuted at the top of the box office this week with an impressive ESTIMATED $20.2 million in 2,614 theaters, averaging $7,728 per theater.
In the film, funnyman Jack Black stars as a hell-raising guitarist who impersonates a substitute teacher and turns a class of fifth-grade high-achievers into high-voltage rock 'n' rollers.
MGM Pictures' R rated police thriller Out of Time premiered in second place with an ESTIMATED $17 million at 3,076 theaters, averaging $5,527 per theater.
In the film, Academy Award winner Denzel Washington plays a Florida police chief whose life unravels as he begins to investigate a brutal double homicide.
Universal Pictures' PG-13 rated jungle actioner The Rundown, last week's box office champ, dropped to third place in its second weekend with an ESTIMATED $9.7 million (-47%) in 3,154 theaters (+2 theaters; $3,100 per theater). Its cume is approximately $32.7 million.
Buena Vista's PG-13 rated romantic comedy Under the Tuscan Sun fell two notches to No.4 in its second week with an ESTIMATED $7.9 million (-19%) in 1,697 theaters (+471 theaters; $4,661 per theater). Its cume is approximately $20.9 million.
New Line's PG rated family drama Secondhand Lions only dropped one spot to round out the Top Five in its third week with an ESTIMATED $5.3 million (-35%) in 3,032 theaters (-6 theaters; $1,773 per theater). Its cume is approximately $30.8 million.
Sony Picture's R rated supernatural thriller Underworld tumbled three positions to take sixth place in its third week with an ESTIMATED $4.8 million (-49%) at 2715 theaters (-213 theaters; $1,768 per theater). Its cume is approximately $44.5 million.
*Box office estimates provided by Exhibitor Relations, Inc.
Focus Features' R rated dramedy Lost In Translation climbed three positions to place seventh in its fourth week with an ESTIMATED $4.2 million (+16%) in 864 theaters (+376 theaters; $4,393 per theater average). Its cume is approximately $14.1 million.
Paramount Picture's PG-13 rated musical comedy The Fighting Temptations dropped three rungs to No. 8 in its third week with an ESTIMATED $3.2 million (-49%) in 1,762 theaters (-264 theaters; $1,864 per theater). Its cume is approximately $24.7 million.
Sony Pictures' R rated sequel Once Upon a Time in Mexico fell three notches to ninth place in its fourth week with an ESTIMATED $2.5 million (-49%) in 2, 097 theaters (-825theaters; $1,216 per theater). Its cume is approximately $52.9 million.
Buena Vista's R rated thriller Cold Creek Manor slipped two spots to round out the Top Ten in its third week with an ESTIMATED $2.5 million (-43%) at 1,398 theaters (-97 theaters; $1,290 per theater). Its cume is approximately $18.3 million.
Lions Gate Releasing's R rated biopic Wonderland premiered in five theaters in New York and Los Angeles with an ESTIMATED $90,000, averaging $18,000 per theater.
Miramax's R rated drama The Station Agent, meanwhile, premiered in three theaters in New York and Los Angeles with an ESTIMATED $55,500, averaging a strong $18,500 per theater.
The Top 12 films this weekend grossed an ESTIMATED $82.1 million, up 2.9 percent from last weekend's $79.8 million. The Top 12 movies, however, were down 18.67 percent from this time last year when they took in $101 million.
Last year, Universal's R rated thriller Red Dragon came in at No. 1 in its opening week with $36.5 million in 3,357 theaters ($10,855 per theater); Buena Vista's PG-13 rated comedy Sweet Home Alabama came in second place in its second week with $21.3 million in 3,303 theaters (+10 theaters; $6,456 per theater); and DreamWorks' PG-13 rated comedy The Tuxedo finished third in its second week with $10 million at 2,051 theaters (unchanged; $4,893 per theater).