‘Exorcism Of Emily Rose’ Takes Possession Of Box-Office #1

Fact-based fright film/courtroom drama opens with $30.2 million in ticket sales.

With its blend of classic horror and courtroom drama, “The Exorcism of Emily Rose” possessed audiences across the country, debuting at #1 on the box-office top 10.

The film that centers on the exorcism and subsequent death of 19-year-old Emily Rose opened with $30.2 million in ticket sales, according to early estimates. In the film, the Catholic Church agrees to perform an exorcism on Rose, whose parents believe she has become possessed by the devil. However, when Father Moore (Tom Wilkinson) is working to purge the demons from the young girl’s body, Rose dies, and Moore is blamed for negligence. Laura Linney plays the lawyer charged with the cumbersome task of defending the priest in the feature, inspired by an actual exorcism in Germany.

(See clips from “The Exorcism of Emily Rose” in Overdrive.)

Holding its ground at #2 this week is “The 40-Year-Old Virgin,” which earned more than $7.9 million. In the comedy, Steve Carell plays an electronics store worker whose friends make it their personal mission to end his lifelong dry spell. His decision to become involved in a relationship with a no-sex policy, however, makes their mission somewhat more difficult (see “For ‘Virgin’ Leading Man Steve Carell, First Time’s A Charm” ).

“Transporter 2″ was bumped from the top spot where it debuted last week, coming in at #3 this time around with $7.2 million. The sequel to 2002′s “The Transporter” finds Frank Martin (Jason Statham) reluctantly returning to his courier gig when a young boy whom he was chauffeuring is kidnapped (see “‘Transporter 2′ Delivers Explosive Lesson To Model Kate Nauta” ).

“The Constant Gardner,” the story of a British diplomat (Ralph Fiennes) on a massive search to uncover the mystery of his wife’s death, dropped from #3 to #4 this week. The film, which co-stars Rachel Weisz as Fiennes’ wife, earned more than $4.8 million.

Another edge-of-your-seat thriller also slipped a spot, as “Red Eye” falls from #4 to #5. Starring Rachel McAdams as a young woman who is forced to aid in an assassination plot formulated by her airplane seatmate (Cillian Murphy) (see “Wes Craven Brings A Different Kind Of Horror To ‘Red Eye’ “ ), the film earned $4.6 million.

This week’s other new release, “The Man,” debuted down at #6, earning just over $4 million. Eugene Levy plays a dental-supply salesman who is mistaken for an international arms dealer in the comedy (see “Samuel L. Jackson Is A Big Nerd, And Other Revelations From ‘The Man’ “ ), and Samuel L. Jackson co-stars as a federal agent who uses Levy to help track down the real criminal.

Rounding out this week’s top 10 are “The Brothers Grimm,” which drops from #5 to #7 with more than $3.3 million; “Wedding Crashers,” which falls from #7 to #8 with more than $3.2 million; “Four Brothers,” which tumbles from #6 to #9 with more than $2.9 million; and “March of the Penguins,” which slips from #8 to #10 with more than $2.5 million.

Overall, ticket sales were up slightly from the corresponding weekend last year.

Next week, look for “Everything Is Illuminated,” “Cry Wolf” and “Just Like Heaven” to debut on the box-office top 10. Also opening in limited release are “Corpse Bride” and “Thumbsucker.”

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