LOS ANGELES (AP) - Moviegoers had an appetite for fright this weekend, sending "Insidious: Chapter 2" to the top of the box office.
The haunted-house horror sequel debuted in first place with $41 million, more than tripling the opening take of the 2010 original.
Debuting on Friday the 13th, FilmDistrict's "Insidious: Chapter 2" scored the highest September opening day ever, said box-office analyst Paul Dergarabedian of Hollywood.com.
"It was a perfect release date for this movie," he said. "James Wan has cracked the code on making great horror movies."
The director had another first-place opener earlier this summer with the "The Conjuring," another haunted-house thriller starring Patrick Wilson. Wilson returns in "Insidious 2," playing a husband and father with some scary personal baggage.
FilmDistrict's president of distribution, Jim Orr, said the film's ticket sales nearly doubled studio expectations.
"It's great to be in business with Blumhouse Productions and James Wan," he said. "They're just ridiculously talented and delivered a phenomenal film."
Another newcomer, Relativity Media's Robert De Niro-Michelle Pfeiffer crime caper "The Family," opened in second place with $14.5 million. That bumped last week's champ, "Riddick," to third.
The Weinstein Co.'s "Lee Daniels' The Butler" continued its strong performance with a fourth-place finish that saw North American ticket sales cross the $100 million mark.
The Jennifer Aniston-Jason Sudeikis Warner Bros. road-trip comedy "We're the Millers" rounded out the top five.
Both "The Butler" and "We're the Millers" have been in theaters for more than a month, contributing to a hearty box-office that's been up the past four consecutive weeks after a record-breaking summer season.
"These movies have legs week after week, and that's bolstering the entire marketplace," Dergarabedian said. "If you just have the brand-new movies doing well and the holdovers are dropping like rocks, then you have a problem."
Estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday at U.S. and Canadian theaters, according to Hollywood.com. Where available, latest international numbers for Friday through Sunday are also included. Final domestic figures will be released on Monday.
1. "Insidious: Chapter 2," $41 million ($5 million international).
2. "The Family," $14.5 million.
3. "Riddick," $7 million ($9.6 million international).
4. "Lee Daniels' The Butler," $5.58 million ($2.5 million international).
5. "We're the Millers," $5.4 million ($9 million international).
6. "Instructions Not Included," $4.25 million.
7. "Planes," $3.06 million ($10.7 million international).
8. "One Direction: This Is Us," $2.4 million.
9. "Elysium," $2.05 million ($8.5 million international).
10. "Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters," $1.82 million ($7.8 million international).
Estimated weekend ticket sales Friday through Sunday at international theaters (excluding the U.S. and Canada) for films distributed overseas by Hollywood studios, according to Rentrak:
1. "The Smurfs 2," $17.6 million.
2. "White House Down," $13 million.
3. "Planes," $10.7 million.
4. "Riddick," $9.6 million.
5. "We're the Millers," $9 million.
6. "Elysium," $8.5 million.
7. "Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters," $7.8 million.
8. "The Conjuring," $7 million.
9. "Insidious: Chapter 2," $5 million.
10. "Despicable Me 2," $4.4 million.
Follow AP Entertainment Writer Sandy Cohen at www.twitter.com/APSandy .
Universal and Focus are owned by NBC Universal, a unit of Comcast Corp.; Sony, Columbia, Sony Screen Gems and Sony Pictures Classics are units of Sony Corp.; Paramount is owned by Viacom Inc.; Disney, Pixar and Marvel are owned by The Walt Disney Co.; Miramax is owned by Filmyard Holdings LLC; 20th Century Fox and Fox Searchlight are owned by News Corp.; Warner Bros. and New Line are units of Time Warner Inc.; MGM is owned by a group of former creditors including Highland Capital, Anchorage Advisors and Carl Icahn; Lionsgate is owned by Lions Gate Entertainment Corp.; IFC is owned by AMC Networks Inc.; Rogue is owned by Relativity Media LLC.