LOS ANGELES (AP) – Horror held sway at theaters again as “Jeepers Creepers 2” sunk its claws into audiences, debuting over the long Labor Day weekend as the top movie with $18.5 million at the box office.

“Jeepers Creepers 2” deposed another horror sequel, “Freddy vs. Jason,” which had been the No. 1 movie for the previous two weekends. “Freddy vs. Jason” fell to No. 6 with $8.1 million, bringing its 17-day total to $73.4 million, according to industry estimates Monday.

Hollywood had a brisk finish to the summer-blockbuster season, with revenues up for the third straight weekend. The top 12 movies took in $101.2 million over Labor Day weekend, an 11 percent increase over the same period last year.

The industry rang up $3.87 billion in ticket sales domestically from early May through Labor Day, beating summer 2002’s revenue record by about 2 percent. Factoring in higher admission prices this year, though, the number of tickets sold fell about 2 percent.

Revenues had slumped during the first half of summer, but a strong lineup of late-season hits helped Hollywood catch up to summer 2002’s pace.

“It was a very impressive finish,” said Paul Dergarabedian, president of box-office tracker Exhibitor Relations. “Summers are known for burning out or faltering at the end, but this summer certainly bucked that trend with some pretty strong films.”

A followup to 2001’s horror mini-hit “Jeepers Creepers,” the sequel features the return of the bestial, bat-like “Creeper,” this time butchering and munching on a bus full of high school athletes and cheerleaders.

The sequel did better business than the original, which took in $15.8 million in its debut over Labor Day two years ago.

“Jeepers Creepers 2” was the only new film in wide release for Labor Day weekend, traditionally a quiet time at theaters when families are preoccupied with barbecues and other outdoor activities and students are preparing to return to school.

Arthouse films in limited release expanded to eager audiences. “American Splendor,” starring Paul Giamatti as cult comic-book writer Harvey Pekar, widened to 88 theaters and took in a healthy $1.08 million.

The coming-of-age drama “Thirteen,” featuring Holly Hunter as a single mother of a troubled teenage daughter, expanded to 73 theaters and grossed $800,000.

Four movies passed $100 million over the weekend, bringing summer’s total to 15 flicks hitting that mark, breaking summer 2002’s record of 13.

Crossing $100 million were “S.W.A.T.”, “Seabiscuit,” “The Italian Job” and “Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle.”

Estimated ticket sales for Friday through Monday at North American theaters, according to Exhibitor Relations Co. Inc. Final figures will be released Tuesday.

1. “Jeepers Creepers 2,” $18.5 million.

2. “Freaky Friday,” $11.7 million.

3. “S.W.A.T.,” $10.5 million.

4 (tie). “Open Range,” $10.2 million.

4 (tie). “Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl,” $10.2 million.

6. “Seabiscuit,” $8.2 million.

7. “Freddy vs. Jason,” $8.1 million.

8. “The Medallion,” $5.7 million.

9. “Uptown Girls,” $5.2 million.

10. “My Boss’s Daughter,” $4.5 million.


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