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'Nightmare,' 'Iron Man' lead US, overseas bills

Photo by Donnie Ikpa

Photo by Donnie Ikpa

LOS ANGELES -- Freddy Krueger is raking in cash at the box office again, while Robert Downey Jr.'s "Iron Man 2" got off to a big start overseas.

A remake of the slasher flick "A Nightmare on Elm Street" led the weekend with a $32.2 million debut domestically, according to studio estimates Sunday. Released by the Warner Bros. banner New Line, the movie features Jackie Earle Haley as Krueger, a psycho killer who stalks and slays victims in their dreams.

Paramount's "Iron Man 2" got an international head start on its domestic debut this Friday, pulling in $100.2 million in 53 foreign markets. While Hollywood blockbusters typically open around the same date in most countries, some get an overseas jump of a week or more on their U.S. debuts.

"Iron Man 2" brought in $12.2 million in Great Britain, $10.8 million in South Korea, $8.8 million in Australia and $8.2 million in France. According to Paramount, the sequel had bigger openings than 2008's "Iron Man" in every market.

"Iron Man 2" continues the story of Downey's billionaire superhero, a genius who builds himself a metal suit loaded with gadgets. Mickey Rourke co-stars as a new enemy with his own high-tech arsenal.

Fright films typically drop steeply in their second weekends, since hardcore horror fans rush out to see them in the first few days. But "A Nightmare on Elm Street" already is headed toward a solid profit after an opening weekend that roughly matched its modest production budget of just over $30 million.

Given the history of slasher sagas -- the original 1984 "A Nightmare on Elm Street" was followed by seven sequels -- the franchise likely has a long life ahead of it.

"It's certainly something we would entertain, the same with 'Friday the 13th,'" another New Line horror series that was revived last year and has a sequel in the works, said Dan Fellman, head of distribution at Warner Bros.

"A Nightmare on Elm Street" was unable to match the fresh start of "Friday the 13th," whose remake had a $40 million opening weekend in February 2009.

This weekend's other new wide release, Brendan Fraser's family comedy "Furry Vengeance," bombed with just $6.5 million. The Summit Entertainment release stars Fraser as a housing developer assailed by the cute woodland creatures whose habitat is threatened by construction.

The previous weekend's No. 1 movie, DreamWorks Animation's hit "How to Train Your Dragon," slipped to second place with $10.8 million, raising its total to $192.4 million.

While "A Nightmare on Elm Street" opened well, overall business was modest, continuing a lull as theaters prepare for the summer season, Hollywood's busiest time.

With "Iron Man 2," new potential blockbusters will start arriving virtually every weekend through August. Downey's "Iron Man" premiered domestically with a whopping $98.6 million weekend, ranking No. 15 on the chart for best debuts.

"What 'Nightmare on Elm Street' did is bridge the gap between the middling last part of spring leading into the summer," said Paul Dergarabedian, box-office analyst for Hollywood.com. "'Iron Man 2,' I'm prepared to say, is going to be one of the biggest openings of all time. Interest is huge."

In limited release, Sony Pictures Classics' "Please Give" opened strongly with $128,696 in five theaters, averaging a healthy $25,739 a cinema. That compares with an average of $9,665 in 3,332 theaters for "A Nightmare on Elm Street."

"Please Give" stars Catherine Keener and Oliver Platt as a Manhattan couple who buy an elderly neighbor's adjoining apartment -- with the stipulation that the old woman can live out her life there before the buyers can do any expanding and remodeling.

Estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday at U.S. and Canadian theaters, according to Hollywood.com. Final figures will be released Monday.

1. "A Nightmare on Elm Street," $32.2 million.

2. "How to Train Your Dragon," $10.8 million.

3. "Date Night," $7.6 million.

4. "The Back-up Plan," $7.2 million.

5. "Furry Vengeance," $6.5 million.

6. "The Losers," $6 million.

7. "Clash of the Titans," $5.98 million.

8. "Kick-ass," $4.5 million.

9. "Death at a Funeral," $4 million.

10. "Oceans," $2.6 million.