LOS ANGELES • It was a squeaker, but Universal Pictures' Split has edged past Paramount's Rings to narrowly claim victory at the North American box office.
The psychological thriller from M. Night Shyamalan retained its first-place position for the third consecutive weekend, earning US$14.6 million (S$20.6 million).
So far, the story of a man with multiple personalities has made US$98.7 million stateside, while costing just US$9 million, making it very profitable indeed.
Paramount Pictures' Rings, an attempt to revive a long-dormant horror franchise, placed second by earning US$13 million, while STX Entertainment's young-adult drama, The Space Between Us, placed ninth with US$3.8 million.
The weekend slate lacked a big new picture, with only two new wide releases and a Robert De Niro movie in limited showings. Next weekend, some of the year's more-anticipated movies hit theatres, including the steamy drama Fifty Shades Darker and The Lego Batman Movie.
Rings, the third film from the series based on the 2002 supernatural feature The Ring, scored poorly with critics. The picture, based on a Japanese horror classic, cost Paramount US$25 million to make and, like its predecessors, focuses on a videotape that kills those who watch it.
The first Ring movie opened to US$15 million in 2002, working its way to a US$129.1 million domestic gross, while its follow-up, 2005's The Ring Two, kicked off to US$35.1 million, ending its stateside run with US$76.2 million.
The Comedian, featuring De Niro as an ageing comic trying to reinvent himself, opened in just 850 theatres and generated US$1.1 million in its opening weekend.