The vampire movie 30 Days of Night sank its teeth into last weekend's U.S. box office tally, besting a downbeat trio of Academy Award hopefuls.

The Sony horror flick, featuring Josh Hartnett battling ravenous vampires in wintertime Alaska, debuted atop the listing with $16 million, according to studio estimates on October 21. It trounced such competitors at Ben Affleck's kidnap drama Gone Baby Gone, Reese Witherspoon and Jake Gyllenhaal's international thriller Rendition, and Halle Berry and Benicio Del Toro's domestic drama Things We Lost in the Fire.

Escapism continues to rule the box office, bucking the usual seasonal trend toward sober subjects. "Fall is the season of the serious movie, and it seems like audiences in a way are resisting the serious movie right now," said Paul Dergarabedian, president of box office tracker Media By Numbers. "Audiences are finding their horror or their intensity in real life, and they're not looking for it in the movies."

Another escapist offering, Tyler Perry's Why Did I Get Married?, slipped to second place on the weekend box office list, raising its two-week total to $38.9 million. Disney's family comedy The Game Plan continued to thrive in third place, bringing its four-week total to $69.2 million.

The DreamWorks-Paramount release Things We Lost in the Fire, starring Halle Berry as a widow who takes in her husband's drug-addicted friend (Benicio Del Toro), opened outside the Top 10 with only $1.6 million. The overall U.S. box office slumped for the fifth consecutive weekend. The top 12 movies took in $79.7 million, down 10 percent from the same weekend last year.