NEW YORK • Don't Breathe became the latest in a string of hit horror movies over the weekend, while the indie romance Southside With You bested the boxing drama Hands Of Stone.
Between back-to-school activities and vacations, mid-to-late August can be a time for studios to offload dreck.
But Don't Breathe (Sony Pictures Entertainment) received reviews from top critics that were 94 per cent positive, according to Rotten Tomatoes, expanding the movie's appeal beyond the core horror crowd.
The film from Uruguayan writer- director Fede Alvarez took in about US$26.1 million (S$35.5 million) at North American cinemas.
With a social media-focused sales effort that started in March, "we really treated this film as an experience that you needed to see on the big screen", Mr Josh Greenstein, Sony's president of worldwide marketing and distribution, said by telephone on Sunday.
He noted that Sony has now turned three low-budget summer films into moneymakers, with The Shallows, a horror movie, and the animated Sausage Party as the other two.
Don't Breathe, which cost about US$9.8 million to make, pushed Suicide Squad (Warner Bros) into second place, ending the supervillain film's three-week run at No. 1.
Suicide Squad took in about US$12.1 million over the weekend, for a domestic total of US$282.9 million, according to comScore, which compiles box-office data. Barack Obama and his wife's first date in 1989.
The Roadside Attractions film opened with US$3.1 million to place 13th. The critically praised film garnered 93 per cent positive reviews.
Weinstein Co's Hands Of Stone, about boxer Roberto Duran and starring Robert De Niro and Edgar Ramirez, opened in 16th place with sales of US$1.7 million.
The only other new wide-release movie to open in the US besides Don't Breathe was the sequel Mechanic: Resurrection (Lionsgate), which collected an estimated US$7.5 million.
NEW YORK TIMES, WASHINGTON POST