Martin Scorsese's atmospheric thriller Shutter Island, starring Leonardo DiCaprio (above), was a bigger hit than some had expected, grossing an estimated $40.2 million at the North American box office this weekend, according to Box Office Mojo. The crime thriller with supernatural elements scored an excellent $13,440 per screen average at 2,991 theaters.
Shutter Island is expected to become the highest-grossing Scorsese-DiCaprio effort. Their previous collaborations were: Gangs of New York (2002), The Aviator (2004), and the Oscar-winning The Departed (2006). Scorsese's previous best weekend opener was The Departed with $26.9 million. DiCaprio's was Catch Me If You Can (2002) with $30.1 million. (Not adjusted for inflation; if adjusted for inflation Titanic's opening in late 1997 did better business.)
Garry Marshall's all-star Valentine's Day suffered a steep drop — 69.5 percent — from last weekend. The romantic comedy was a distant #2, with $17.1 million and an okay $4,682 per screen. Made for a reported $52 million, Valentine's Day has grossed $87.4 million after only 10 days. The romantic comedy stars Bradley Cooper, Julia Roberts, Ashton Kutcher, Jessica Alba, Jessica Biel, Anne Hathaway, Taylor Lautner, Kathy Bates, Eric Dane, Shirley MacLaine, Emma Roberts, Carter Jenkins, Hector Alizondo, Jennifer Garner, Taylor Swift, Topher Grace, and others.
Avatar was #3 with $16.1 million, a 31.8 percent drop — its steepest since the sci-fier opened ten weekends ago. (Overall box office figures for last weekend were higher than usual because of Valentine's Day and the Presidents Day holiday.) James Cameron's sci-fi adventure is up for nine Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Director. To date, it has grossed $687 million.
Chris Columbus' adventure flick Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief, starring Logan Lerman, was #4 with $15.3 million and a cume of $58.7 million.
At #5, Joe Johnston's The Wolfman, starring Benicio Del Toro and Anthony Hopkins, took in $9.8 million, followed by the Channing Tatum-Amanda Seyfried romantic melodrama Dear John with $7.3 million. Dwayne Johnson's Tooth Fairy did okay at #7, with $4.5 million on its fifth weekend, while Jeff Bridges' Crazy Heart was #8 with $3 million.
Rounding out the top thirteen were the John Travolta-Jonathan Rhys Meyers flop From Paris with Love ($2.5 million), Mel Gibson's Edge of Darkness ($2.2 million), Denzel Washington's post-apocalyptic drama The Book of Eli ($1.8 million), the Kristen Bell-Josh Duhamel romantic comedy When in Rome ($1.7 million), Sandra Bullock's The Blind Side ($1.5 million), and George Clooney's Up in the Air ($1m).
At 125 screens, Shahrukh Khan's My Name Is Khan was #17, with $720K and $5,760 per screen — the third-highest average among the top 20 films, after Shutter Island and Avatar. To date, the controversial Bollywood drama has grossed $3.2 million in the U.S. and Canada.
Also worthy of note: At only four theaters in Los Angeles and New York, Roman Polanski's widely praised thriller The Ghost Writer — winner of the Best Director Silver Bear in Berlin — took in $179K over the weekend, or an astounding $44,750 per screen.
Photos: Shutter Island (Andrew Cooper / Paramount)