LOS ANGELES -- Horror spoke louder than romance at the box office over the Valentine's Day weekend.
The slash-'em-up sequel ''Scream 3'' took in $16.4 million in its second weekend to hang onto the top spot at the box office, outdoing ''The Beach,'' romantic hero Leonardo DiCaprio's new movie, according to industry estimates Sunday.
''The Beach,'' about an American backpacker's ill-fated search for paradise in Thailand, debuted in second place with $15 million.
Two kid flicks also opened in the top five. ''Snow Day,'' a comedy about children wreaking havoc when a blizzard closes their school, grossed $14.8 million for third place. The movie co-stars Chevy Chase, Jean Smart, Chris Elliott and Pam Grier.
''The Tigger Movie,'' Disney's animated Winnie the Pooh tale, was No. 4 with $9.2 million.
Last weekend's No. 2 film, the Oscar contender ''The Hurricane,'' dropped to fifth place with $3.6 million.
Ticket sales for ''Scream 3'' dropped 53 percent from its $34.7 million opening last weekend, although it held up better than ''Scream 2,'' which declined 65 percent its second weekend. ''Scream 3'' has grossed $57 million in 10 days.
Panned by many critics, ''The Beach'' puts DiCaprio in a far darker role than the heroic heartthrob he played in ''Titanic,'' the all-time box-office leader.
Distributor 20th Century Fox was not disappointed by the film's No. 2 slot.
''We're all so wound up with what's No. 1 and 2,'' said Tom Sherak, the studio's head of distribution. ''The fact is there's a lot of movies that have done really well that didn't open as No. 1,'' such as ''There's Something About Mary.''
''The Beach's'' R rating cut off some of DiCaprio's biggest fans, girls under 17 who would have to see the movie with a parent or guardian. Even so, women made up 57 percent of the movie's audience, and more than half of them were under 25.
''There were a lot of guys that went to the movie, and there was enough adventure in it for them. But anytime you have a male star that females are really interested in, they're generally dragging the guys to see it,'' Sherak said.
DiCaprio's ''The Man in the Iron Mask'' also opened in second place in March 1998. It was beaten by ''Titanic,'' which had topped the box office for three months.
''The Beach'' did score the highest per-theater average. Playing at 2,546 sites, the movie averaged $5,892, compared to $4,730 in 3,467 theaters for ''Scream 3.''
After two months that were heavy on adult-oriented films vying for Oscar consideration, the weekend offered a truly diverse lineup.
''It's the first weekend in a long time that spoke to every demographic,'' said Paul Dergarabedian, president of Exhibitor Relations Co. Inc. ''A horror movie with 'Scream 3,' a date movie with DiCaprio, a movie for the family and older kids with 'Snow Day,' and 'Tigger' for families with little kids.''
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