Sony releases have dominated Superbowl weekend for the last six years and Screen Gems' The Messengers extended that quirky distinction at the weekend.

As the nation prepared to sit down to watch Sunday's [Feb 4] clash between the Chicago Bears and the Indianapolis Colts, the Pang Brothers' latest horror film opened top on an estimated $14.5m.

The film stars Kristen Stewart and Dylan McDermott and takes place on a North Dakota sunflower farm plagued by a supernatural force. It was produced by Sam Raimi and Rob Tapert's Ghost House Pictures.

Sony's previous six Superbowl 'champions' were When A Stranger Calls, Boogeyman, You Got Served, Darkness Falls, Black Hawk Down, and The Wedding Planner.

The Messengers opened one place ahead of Universal/Gold Circle's romantic comedy Because I Said So on $13m. Diane Keaton and Mandy Moore star.

Both The Messengers and Because I Said So are sold in international markets by Mandate Pictures.

Overall business was down as football took precedence over cinema. The top 12 films grossed $71.6m, a drop of 12.5% percent compared to last year.

Epic Movie, Fox's number one release last weekend, slipped two places to third on $8.2m for $29.4m, while stablemate Night At The Museum finished fourth and has amassed $225.4m after seven weekends.

Paramount's musical Dreamgirls added $4m to rank seventh in its eighth weekend and is poised to cross $100m. The current cumulative total stands at $92.8m.

Pan's Labyrinth, released in North America through Picturehouse, has now become the biggest grossing Spanish-language film in the US. The fantasy drama added $3.7m for $21.69m in its sixth weekend to hoist the tally past Like Water For Chocolate's previous mark of $21.66m, set in 1993.

The Queen stayed in the top 10 in its 19th weekend on $2.7m for $45.5m.

Estimated Top Ten North America Feb 2-4, 2006
Film (Distributor)/International distribution/Estimated weekend gross/Estimated total to date

1 (-) The Messengers (Screen Gems) Mandate/SPRI $14.5m -
2 (-) Because I Said So (Universal/Gold Circle) Mandate/UPI $13m -
3 (1) Epic Movie (Fox) Fox Int'l $8.2m $29.4m
4 (3) Night At The Museum (Fox) Fox Int'l $6.8m $225.4m
5 (2) Smokin' Aces (Universal) UPI $6.3m $24.9m
6 (5) Stomp The Yard (Screen Gems) SPRI $4.2m $56m
7 (6) Dreamgirls (Paramount) PPI $4m $92.8m
8 (8) Pan's Labyrinth (Picturehouse) Wild Bunch $3.7m $21.7m
9 (7) The Pursuit of Happyness (Sony) SPRI $3.1m $157.4m
10 (9) The Queen (Miramax) Pathe $2.7m $45.5m