The box office experienced a horrific weekend in more ways than one. Not only did a horror movie that its studio declined to show to critics lead all others, but it earned just $9 million -- the first time in three years that the top film had made less than $10 million. Moreover, the total for all films was lower than any weekend of the year and down 26 percent from the comparable weekend a year ago to just $54.4 million, according to Bloomberg News. In an interview with today's (Monday) Los Angeles Times, Exhibitor Relations chief Paul Dergarabedian observed that while this is ordinarily a time of year when the box office slows down, "This is not a great way to start off the fall season." It was, however, fairly great for Sony Films, which saw The Covenant become its ninth film to open at No. 1 this year. It earned $9 million, well ahead of Hollywoodland, which garnered critical raves for its star, Ben Affleck. It placed second with $6 million.

The top ten films for the weekend, according to studio estimates compiled by Exhibitor Relations:
1. The Covenant, $9 million; 2. Hollywoodland, $6 million; 3. Invincible, $5.8 million; 4. The Protector, $5 million; 5. Crank, $4.8 million; 6. The Illusionist, $4.6 million; 7. Little Miss Sunshine, $4.4 million; 8. The Wicker Man, $4.1 million; 9. Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby, $3 million; 10. Barnyard, $2.6 million.