Sony is riding high with a one-two punch as the horror road movie Zombieland opened top on an estimated $25m, nudging Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs into second place.

Woody Harrelson stars as a zombie basher in the well reviewed Zombieland alongside Jessie Eisenberg, Abigail Breslin and Emma Stone.

The film dethroned Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs following the latter’s two-week reign at the top, however the animated hit should have little trouble crossing $100m within the next couple of weeks after adding $16.7m for a promising $82.4m.

In a busy weekend for new releases, overall box office trailed the same period last year by roughly 4% as this weekend’s contenders combined for $113.4m.

  • Disney re-released Toy Story and Toy Story 2 in 3D for a two-week engagement ahead of the summer 2010 3D launch of the third film in the Pixar series. Disney chiefs will take heart from the result amid a turbulent time for the studio as the pair grossed $12.5m from 1,745 theatres. By comparison Zombieland opened in 3,036 sites and Cloudy remains active in 2,977.

  • Media Rights Capital’s Ricky Gervais comedy The Invention Of Lying, co-directed, co-written by and starring the British comic, opened through Warner Bros in fourth place on $7.4m from 1,707 sites, a fraction ahead of Disney’s sci-fi thriller Surrogates, which added $7.3m in its second weekend for $26.4m.

  • Overture Films expanded Michael Moore’s documentary Capitalism: A Love Storyfrom four to 962 theatres for a $4.85m result that raised the cumulative tally after two to $5.3m. The distributor said this was the veteran agent provocateur’s second highest opening behind Fahrenheit 9/11 and ranked among the top three traditional documentary openings excluding concert films.

Capitalism tied in sixth place with Drew Barrymore’s feature directorial debut Whip It, released in North America through Fox Searchlight in 1,720 theatres. TWC’s Inglourious Basterds fell three places to number 13 and stands at $116.9m after seven weekends.

  • Meanwhile Paramount’s ghost story Paranormal Activity is building a sensational following among the late night crowd. In its second weekend the low budget genre release shot up 29 places to number 19 and to date has grossed $780,000 from midnight screenings in 33 theatres.

It ventured into a further 21 venues this weekend from a starting point of 12 and grossed $535,000. Paramount plans to expand into roughly 40 markets on October 9. IM Global is handling international sales and screened the film at AFM last November in one of the events of the market.

  • Focus Features’ A Serious Man grossed $251,510 from six theatres for an excellent $41,918 per-theatre average. The Coen Brothers’ latest slice of dark comedy premiered in Toronto recently.

  • Apparition’s period romance Bright Star added $723,865 for a $1.9m running total. Apparition’s Bob Berney noted the film held well in the top markets including New York, Los Angeles, Washington DC and Boston and found “a supportive younger female audience” in prestige theatres like Union Square in Manhattan and The Landmark in Los Angeles.

Next weekend’s wide release is: Universal’s comedy Couples Retreat starring Vince Vaughn, Jason Bateman, Malin Akerman, Jon Favreau, Kristen Bell and Kristin Davis. Miramax will expand its drama The Boys Are Back starring Clive Owen as a widower who balances work with looking after his sons.

Estimated Top 10 North America October 2-4 2009
Film (Dist) / Est wkd gross / Est total to date

1 (-) Zombieland (Sony) SPRI $25m –

2 (1) Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs (Sony) SPRI $16.7m $82.4m

3 (-) Toy Story / Toy Story 2 (3D) (Buena Vista) WDSMPI $12.5m –

4 (-) The Invention Of Lying (Warner Bros) UPI $7.35m –

5 (2) Surrogates (Buena Vista) WDSMPI $7.34m $26.4m

= 6 (-) Whip It (Fox Searchlight) Mandate Int’l $4.85m –

= 6 (31) Capitalism: A Love Story (Overture) Paramount Vantage Int’l $4.85m $5.3m

8 (3) Fame (MGM) Lakeshore Entertainment $4.8m $16.6m

9 (4) The Informant! (Warner Bros) WBPI $3.8m $26.6m

10 (7) Love Happens (Universal) UPI $2.8m $18.9m