Ace director Martin Scorsese earned his first number one finish in fifteen years with The Departed, a star-studded remake of the Hong Kong film Infernal Affairs.  Scorsese's latest took in an estimated $27 million over the weekend and easily won the box office crown.  With excellent reviews, strong ratings from moviegoers (who gave the film an 'A-') and a chance to get renewed exposure at Oscar time, The Departed looks like it has a chance to earn back its $90 million cost and then some.  Although the movie was thought to appeal primarily to older male viewers, Warners reported that its audience was evenly split between male and female viewers and those over and under 25. 


The success of a stylish crime drama like The Departed can only serve to invigorate the genre and perhaps whet the audience's appetite for films like Sin City 2.


Meanwhile The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning claimed second place with an estimated $19.2 million.  The 'R' rated horror film, which provides an origin story for Leatherface, the chainsaw-wielding protagonist of the series, is just the overture to a symphony of horror film releases leading up to Halloween.  Although its opening failed to match the stellar $28 million bow of the 2003 remake of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, and the film's audience will surely drop off severely in the next few weeks with the release of The Grudge 2 on Friday the 13th and Saw III on the 20th, TCM: The Beginning will surely turn a strong profit in view of its minimal $16 million cost.  Its strong second place finish helped this weekend's top ten films set a new total box office record for a 3-day Columbus Day weekend.


Sony's CGI cartoon Open Season also did its part by only dropping 32% in its second weekend and finishing third earning an estimated $16 million, which brings its total to $44 million.  While its performance has been impressive when compared to most 2006 releases, it will have a hard time topping $100 million, and for all its technical bravura, it won't be able to match the box office take of previous original non-summer release CGI toons like Ice Age ($176 million) and Shark Tale ($160 million). 


It appears that the plethora of CGI animated features has led to diminishing returns for individual CGI releases, whether produced by established animation studios like Pixar (Cars failed to reach the heights of The Incredibles) or newcomers like Sony.  The performance of Shrek III, which bows next spring, could easily demonstrate the same effect, especially in view of the competition it will face from Spider-Man 3 and Pirates of the Caribbean 3.