4 October 2004 | The Hollywood Reporter | See recent The Hollywood Reporter news »

Audiences across North America took the bait this weekend in a big way, giving DreamWorks' CG-animated Shark Tale the all-time largest October opening with $47.6 million from 4,016 theaters, according to Monday's final figures. The latest animated tale from the studio, which features the voices of Will Smith, Robert De Niro, Martin Scorsese and Renee Zellweger, was the fifth-biggest opening ever for an animated film and was the distributor's second best after Shrek 2. Warming up the second spot was Buena Vista's Ladder 49, a drama about firefighters starring Joaquin Phoenix and John Travolta. Ladder 49, helmed by Jay Russell, opened solidly with $22.1 million. It was the all-time biggest October opening for Buena Vista and was a career second best for Travolta after Paramount's Face Off, which grossed $23.4 million. The strong debuts of both Shark Tale and Ladder 49 were in the areas anticipated by prerelease tracking and were a welcome respite for the industry -- especially after the previous three weekends, which were the three lowest-grossing sessions of the year, and a dismal September. In fact, the combined grosses of Shark Tale and Ladder 49 were greater than the sum total of all films last weekend.

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