LOS ANGELES (AFP) - Twenty-seven years after the first "Scream" movie raised goosebumps, a sixth installment opened atop the North American box office this weekend, taking in an estimated $44.5 million, industry watcher Exhibitor Relations said Sunday.
That was "an excellent opening for an elite horror movie," said analyst David A. Gross, and it came as the film world's glitterati were converging on Hollywood for the evening's Oscar presentations.
A Paramount/Spyglass Media product, "Scream VI" again combines mystery and black comedy.
This edition stars Melissa Barrera, Jenna Ortega and Skeet Ulrich; it is the first in the series not to star Neve Campbell, who failed to reach terms with the studio.
Last week's top film, MGM's boxing drama "Creed III," came in second, with a take estimated at $27.2 million for the Friday-through-Sunday period.
Michael B. Jordan directs -- his first time in that role -- while again playing title character Adonis Creed.
In third was "65," a new sci-fi thriller from Sony and Columbia Pictures, at $12.3 million.
Adam Driver plays a pilot whose spaceship crashes on an unknown planet, which turns out to be the Earth of 65 million years ago, and has to protect himself and a young passenger from dinosaur attack as well as from a huge asteroid that is about to extinguish much of life on Earth.
Marvel and Disney's "Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania" placed fourth, at $7 million. Paul Rudd and Evangeline Lilly star as the winged title characters.
Jenna Ortega in a scene from 'Scream VI' (YouTube)
And in fifth place was Universal's horror comedy "Cocaine Bear," at $6.2 million. Keri Russell plays a woman hunted through the Tennessee woods by a bear that had come upon, and unwisely consumed, a stash of drugs.
Finally, while ticket sales and Oscar wins do not always coincide, these were Hollywood's top earners last year, according to Gross: "Avatar: The Way of Water" ($2.28 billion); "Top Gun: Maverick" ($1.49 billion); "Black Panther: Wakanda Forever" ($859 million); "Puss in Boots: The Last Wish" ($455 million), "Elvis" ($287 million), and "Everything, Everywhere All at Once" ($106 million).
Rounding out this weekend's top 10 were:
"Jesus Revolution" ($5.2 million)
"Champions" ($5.2 million)
"Avatar: The Way of Water" ($2.7 million)
"Demon Slayer: To the Swordsmith Village" ($1.9 million)
"Puss in Boots: The Last Wish" ($1.7 million)