The top two films at the box office this weekend couldn't be more different -- which might help explain why both had such strong starts. The third film in the Disney Channel's wholesome, wildly popular High School Musical franchise, and the first to hit theaters, had a $42 million debut, and will go on to be at least as wildly profitable as its predecessors. $30.5 million for Saw V is basically in line with its three immediate predecessors, all of which had first weekends between $31 and $33 million. The films' final grosses have been steadily declining since the second film, however, with the most recent entry dropping like a rock and managing only $63 million total. We'll see if that trend continues. I'd say, though, that this debut guarantees a sixth Saw for next Halloween. As Eric wrote yesterday, it is now the most lucrative horror franchise in film history.

The only other new wide release this weekend was Pride & Glory, which New Line more or less dumped. It did a predictably weak $6.3 million, good enough for fifth place.

Oliver Stone's W. took a big hit, as the people who needed to see it apparently saw it last weekend. It dropped nearly 50%, with a $25-28 million finish looking likely. Max Payne held up even worse after last week's strong debut. Meanwhile, two films from the early fall doldrums continue to emerge as success stories: Eagle Eye and Beverly Hills Chihuahua are both still hanging around, and both looking to reach $100 million before all is said and done.

In 20th place, Clint Eastwood's Changeling made a strong limited bow: half a million on fifteen screens, for $33,000 per screen. It goes wide next week. A bit further down, the annual rerelease of Tim Burton's A Nightmare Before Christmas 3-D couldn't do much business, ending up with $372,000 on almost 300 screens.

The full estimates after the jump.

1 - High School Musical 3: Senior Year (Disney) - $42.00 ($11,593) - $42.00
2 - Saw V (Lionsgate) - $30.50 ($9,967) - $30.50
3 - Max Payne (Fox) - $7.6 ($2,248) - $29.66
4 - Beverly Hills Chihuahua (Disney) - $6.91 ($2,168) - $78.14
5 - Pride & Glory (New Line) - $6.33 ($2,447) - $6.33
6 - The Secret Life of Bees (Fox Searchlight) - $5.93 ($3,641) - $19.21
7 - W. (Lionsgate) - $5.33 ($2,600) - $18.75
8 - Eagle Eye (Dreamworks/Paramount) - $5.14 ($2,008) - $87.99
9 - Body of Lies (Warner Bros.) - $4.07 ($1,891) - $30.89
10 - Quarantine (Screen Gems) - $2.55 ($1,145) - $28.77

Hat tip: Box Office Mojo

Next week: Changeling and Rocknrolla expand, to be joined by The Haunting of Molly Hartley and Zack and Miri Make a Porno in wide release. I'd expect HSM 3 to win another weekend.