Scary Movie 4 is frightfully popular

The studio estimates have the horror spoof dominating the charts

The old showbiz adage reads, “Give ‘em what they want.” What the US movie-staring public obviously wanted for Easter was fart gags, pop culture riffs and Craig Bierko as “Tom Ryan”, jumping on a coach in a parody of a certain other Tom. Crushing the competition, Scary Movie 4 grabbed $41 million to win the weekend, and snag another of those questionable records - this time, the Biggest Easter Weekend Opening ever in the States. Okay, that’s a little more acceptable than Most Ginger-Haired People Called Steve Watching In Oklahoma.

And it was good news for the Stateside box office in general, as Scary’s success this weekend help to nudge 2006 a whole 4% ahead of last year’s lacklustre takings. So perhaps now all those industry analysts will find something else to write about besides the box office slump.

How about this: Disney’s The Wild bombed the big one. The latest Mouse House ‘toon faces early extinction, opening in fourth – fourth! – place with $9.6 million. It’s the third-worst animated opening ever, behind US hall of shame winner Valiant and Magic Roundabout-renamed tale Doogal. Perhaps all the kids felt they’d already seen The Wild last year, when the tale of zoo animals at large in New York on the hunt for one of their own was called Madagascar. Little bit of satire, ladies and gennulmen…

And the ankle biters were clearly more interested in going back to see Ice Age: The Meltdown, which maintained its winning streak even if the receipts are beginning to melt away a little. Still, $20 million is nothing to be sniffed at for a third weekend’s take, and the film is now up to $147 million in just the US. Third place went to Rob Schneider comedy The Benchwarmers, which grabbed $10 million.

Scooting on further down the charts (everyone wave to The Wild on our way), Take The Lead took fifth with $6.7 million and sixth place was Inside Man. Spike Lee’s heist thriller stole $6.3 million. Seven belonged to Slevin - Lucky Number Slevin, that is (we know, we know, cheesy gag), with the Josh Hartnett-starring crime drama dropping to $4.6 million. Seriously unlucky, that one.

In better health at eighth was Thank You For Smoking, which expanded into more cinemas and took in $4.5 million, despite playing on a fraction of the other films’ screens. The caustic ciggie comedy has smoked out $11.5 million from American cinemagoers, which isn’t bad for a relatively lower-budget movie. And Failure To Launch is still getting them in, making $2.6 million-worth of US film watchers happy. Finally, prepare to say goodbye to V For Vendetta, clinging to the bottom of the charts as it heads off into second-run cinemas and then DVD retirement. It added $2.2 million to its $66 million US total to date.