Greed was still good for Gordon Gekko, as the long-awaited sequel 'Wall Street': Money Never Sleeps' opened at No. 1, enjoying an initial public offering worth an estimated $19 million in ticket sales.
Oliver Stone's follow-up to his 1987 classic 'Wall Street' drew viewers eager to see Michael Douglas reprise his iconic, Oscar-winning role as manipulative money mogul Gekko, though pairing him with protégé Shia LaBeouf may have brought in younger viewers as well. In any case, $19 million marks Douglas' best opening ever (though adjusted for inflation, his best is 'Basic Instinct').
Moviegoers gave less of a hoot for 'Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'Hoole,' which opened in second place with an estimated $16.3 million million. Despite a pedigreed director (Zack Snyder) and a property based on a popular children's book, 'Legend' suffered mixed reviews and a PG rating that might have scared off parents of younger kids. Also, it had to fight for 3-D venues with fellow kids' cartoon offering 'Alpha and Omega' and the horror film 'Resident Evil: Afterlife.'
Last week's champ, heist picture 'The Town,' held up well against competition for adult drama viewers from 'Wall Street.' Enjoying the highest per-screen average of any wide release this week ($5,556, compared to $5,330 for 'Wall Street'), 'The Town' slipped just 33 percent to an estimated $16.0 million, good for third place. In fact, when final numbers are released Monday, it may edge ahead of 'Legend' for second place. 'The Town's' two-week total stands at $49.1 million.
''Easy A,' last week's No. 2, also enjoyed a modest week 2 decline. Despite competition for a young, female audience from newcomer 'You Again,' it slid just 40 percent to an estimated $10.7 million and fourth place. In two weeks, it's earned $32.8 million.
Betty White fever wasn't enough to elevate 'You Again' above a fifth-place opening. Star Kristen Bell, whose 'When In Rome' enjoyed a modest $12.4 million opening earlier this year, couldn't even crack $10 million this time. Instead, 'You Again' opened with an estimated $8.3 million.
The weekend's other major release, independent R-rated teen comedy 'The Virginity Hit,' was anything but a hit. The Will Ferrell-produced feature opened on 700 screens, but it averaged only a meager $429 per venue, for an estimated total of $300,000 and a debut at No. 22 on the chart.
The full top 10:
1. 'Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps,' $19.0 million (3,565 screens), new release
2. 'Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'Hoole,' $16.3 million (3,575), new release
3. 'The Town,' $16.0 million (2,885), $49.1 million total
4. 'Easy A,' $10.7 million (2,856), $32.8 million
5.'You Again,' $8.3 million (2,548), new release
6. 'Devil,' $6.5 million (2,811), $21.7 million
7. 'Resident Evil: Afterlife,' $4.9 million (2,642), $52.0 million
8. 'Alpha and Omega,' $4.7 million (2,625), $15.1 million
9. 'Takers,' $1.7 million (1,413), $54.9 million
10. 'Inception,' $1.2 million (907), $287.1 million
•Follow Gary Susman on Twitter @garysusman.