American audiences demonstrated an appetite for fright this weekend as Insidious: Chapter 2 topped the box office with $41 million (£25 million), more than tripling the opening take of the 2010 original.
The haunted-house horror sequel, which opened on Friday the 13th, scored the highest September opening day on record, according to box-office analyst Paul Dergarabedian of Hollywood.com.
"It was a perfect release date for this movie," he said. "James Wan has cracked the code on making great horror movies."
The Australian director had another first-place opener earlier this summer with the The Conjuring, another haunted-house thriller starring Patrick Wilson. Wilson returns in Insidious 2, playing a husband and father with some scary personal baggage.
FilmDistrict's president of distribution, Jim Orr, said the film's ticket sales nearly doubled studio expectations.
"It's great to be in business with Blumhouse Productions and James Wan," he said. "They're just ridiculously talented and delivered a phenomenal film."
Another newcomer, Relativity Media's Robert De Niro-Michelle Pfeiffer crime caper The Family, opened in second place with $14.5 million. That bumped last week's champ, Riddick, to third.
The Weinstein Co.'s Lee Daniels' The Butler continued its strong performance with a fourth-place finish that saw North American ticket sales cross the $100 million mark.
The Jennifer Aniston-Jason Sudeikis Warner Bros. road-trip comedy We're the Millers rounded out the top five.
Both The Butler and We're the Millers have been in cinemas for more than a month, contributing to a hearty box-office that's been up the past four consecutive weeks after a record-breaking summer season.
"These movies have legs week after week, and that's bolstering the entire marketplace," Dergarabedian said. "If you just have the brand-new movies doing well and the holdovers are dropping like rocks, then you have a problem."