Shia LaBeouf’s conspiracy thriller “Eagle Eye” debuted at the top of the weekend box office with $29.2 million, according to studio estimates Sunday.
The Paramount-DreamWorks release was the second No. 1 premiere for LaBeouf and director D.J. Caruso, who also teamed on 2007’s hit “Disturbia.”
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Opening in second place with $13.6 million was another reunion, the Warner Bros. romantic drama “Nights in Rodanthe” featuring “The Cotton Club” and “Unfaithful” co-stars Richard Gere and Diane Lane.
The previous weekend’s top flick, Sony’s thriller “Lakeview Terrace,” slipped to No. 3 with $7 million, raising its 10-day total to $25.7 million.
The Samuel Goldwyn release “Fireproof,” a Christian drama starring Kirk Cameron as a firefighter who turns to God to help save his marriage, premiered in fourth-place with $6.5 million.
“Eagle Eye” helped pull Hollywood out of the box-office doldrums that have lingered the last two months. The top 12 movies took in $87.8 million, up 15 percent from the same weekend last year.
“You put a summer-style movie in the heart of the fall, and you can take advantage of the marketplace,” said Paul Dergarabedian,
president of box-office tracker Media By Numbers.
Spike Lee’s World War II drama “Miracle at St. Anna” opened weakly with $3.5 million, coming in at No. 9. The Disney release features Derek Luke in a saga of four soldiers from an all-black unit stuck behind enemy lines in Italy.
Two other movies — Fox Searchlight’s “Choke” and Lionsgate’s “The Lucky Ones” — opened in narrower release of about 400 theaters each, compared to 3,510 cinemas for “Eagle Eye.”
“Choke,” starring Sam Rockwell and Anjelica Huston in a quirky tale of a sex addict who feigns choking in restaurants to get money for his mom’s psychiatric care, opened outside the top 10 with $1.3 million.
“The Lucky Ones,” a road trip tale among three Iraq War veterans (Tim Robbins, Michael Pena and Rachel McAdams), bombed with just $208,000.
“Eagle Eye” stars LaBeouf and Michelle Monaghan as strangers hurled together in an escalating series of politically motivated adventures, their lives controlled by a mysterious female voice directing their actions through technology.
“The conceit of the film is intriguing to all,” said DreamWorks spokesman Chip Sullivan. “Between GPS, employee codes, bank PIN numbers, this could conceivably be within the realm of possibility within a few years.”
The movie secures LaBeouf’s position as a steady box-office draw. His other credits include “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull” and “Transformers,” along with the latter’s upcoming sequel.
“Nights in Rodanthe” features Gere and Lane as strangers who fall for each other over a weekend at a secluded inn as a hurricane approaches.
The romance made for good counterprogramming to the action-oriented “Eagle Eye,” said Warner Bros. general sales manager Jeff Goldstein. Female movie-goers made up three-fourths of the audience for “Nights in Rodanthe,” he said.
Estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday at U.S. and Canadian theaters, according to Media By Numbers LLC. Final figures will be released Monday.