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"Scary Movie 3' leads for week No. 2

Audiences were in a laughing mood for Halloween as the horror spoof Scary Movie 3 took in $21.1-million to remain the top film for a second straight weekend.

Disney's animated tale Brother Bear, in its wide-release debut, opened in second place with $18.5-million, according to studio estimates Sunday.

The haul for Brother Bear was only for Saturday and Sunday. After the movie premiered in two theaters the previous weekend, Disney chose to expand it into wide release on Saturday rather than the usual Friday, which was Halloween, typically a slow night at theaters.

"Halloween has grown and become such a family experience that we chose not to compete with that on Friday," said Disney head of distribution Chuck Viane.

Studios overall reported a big slump in ticket sales Friday because of Halloween, with only horror flicks such as The Texas Chainsaw Massacre holding up well that night. The film brought in $10.9-million over the weekend and came in at No. 3.

"Halloween night has become like Christmas Eve," said Tom Sherak, a partner in Revolution Studios, whose feel-good drama Radio was No. 4 with $10.2-million.

Meg Ryan's murder thriller In the Cut, directed by Jane Campion, expanded to wider release after a limited debut the previous weekend, and was 10th with $2.3-million.

NBC plans "unconventional' Culkin project

Macaulay Culkin has signed a deal with NBC to develop several projects, including a possible comedy show in fall 2004, the Associated Press reports.

Culkin, 23, has met with Late Night host Conan O'Brien and may also work on a project with him, NBC's president of prime-time development, Kevin Reilly, said Tuesday on Variety's Web site.

"We're going to use him in an unconventional way," Reilly said. "I don't think you'll see Macaulay as a straight-down-the-middle romantic lead. I think you'll see him in something surprising, a little offbeat."

Reilly said the former Home Alone star has "always had uncanny instincts" as an actor, and a guest spot last season on NBC's Will & Grace reinforced that point.

Culkin recently starred as club kid Michael Alig in the independent film Party Monster and will appear in Saved opposite Jena Malone and Mandy Moore.