Disney's theatrical matriculation of "High School Musical 3: Senior Year" went deliriously well this weekend, as the telefilm-spawned sequel registered a genre-record $42 million in estimated opening grosses to top the domestic box-office.
Lionsgate's R-rated horror sequel "Saw V" also managed to cut into a meaty $30.5 million, roughly matching the bow of its bloody predecessor in the franchise that won't die and tying up second place on the frame.
The one-two box-office punch left a big mark on industry stats: The weekend's robust $135 million in industry-wide grosses notched a whopping 32% improvement over the same weekend a year earlier, Nielsen EDI said. That made for the fifth straight frame of year-over-year weekend upticks.
Seasonal box-office is now pacing ahead of fall 2007 by 10%, while year-to-date grosses are tracking even with the same portion of last year.
The G-rated "HSM3" -- which follows a pair of hugely popular TV movies on the Disney Channel -- drew audiences that were 74% female, with 54% of patrons under age 18. "It's a property that was well known, and the film really delivers," Disney exec VP distribution Chris Leroy said.
The outsized "HMS3" bow outpaced a previous-best opening for a musical set by Universal's "Mamma Mia!" in July with $27.8 million. "HSM3" also opened in 19 foreign territories, where it rang up $40 million during weekend and also topped the international box-office.