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Thriller 'U-571,' Still at Top, Shows No Signs of Diving

Box Office * 'Flintstones' rocks into second place, followed by 'Frequency,' 'Where the Heart Is.'

May 01, 2000|From Times wire services

The submarine thriller "U-571" ruled the box office waves for the second consecutive weekend, leaving three new movies in its wake, according to studio estimates issued Sunday.

The World War II-set drama, which stars Matthew McConaughey, grossed about $12.3 million for the Friday-to-Sunday period, taking its 10-day total to $38.2 million.

The film was released by Seagram Co. Ltd.'s Universal Pictures, which also had the No. 2 movie: "The Flintstones in Viva Rock Vegas" rolled into the marketplace with $10.8 million for the three-day period.

New Line Cinema's time-travel thriller "Frequency" opened at No. 3 with $9.1 million, followed by fellow rookie "Where the Heart Is" (Fox), with $8.3 million. "Love and Basketball" (New Line) fell three places to No. 5 with $5.5 million in its second weekend.

According to Exhibitor Relations Co., which collects the studios' estimates, the top 12 films this weekend grossed a total of $70.4 million, down 7% from last weekend, but up 29% from the year-ago weekend, when Sean Connery's "Entrapment" opened at No. 1 with $20.2 million.

"The Flintstones in Viva Rock Vegas" was crushed by critics, but it hit the jackpot with its target audience of youngsters. The film serves as a "prequel" to the 1994 feature "The Flintstones," which debuted with $29.7 million and ended up with $130 million. The cast for each film was different.

Universal marketed the $58-million film as a "colorful, enjoyable, fun ride," according to the studio's distribution president, Nikki Rocco.

Playing at 3,037 theaters, the largest count in the top 10, the film averaged a modest $3,556. "U-571" had the top average in the top 10 with $4,704.

"Frequency" stars James Caviezel as a New York cop who communicates with his dead father (Dennis Quaid) via ham radio and manages to change the course of the family's history, with numerous complications.

Containing elements of "The Sixth Sense," "Back to the Future" and "Dirty Harry," the film was difficult to market, said New Line distribution chief David Tuckerman. "We aimed it at everybody, and it seemed to work," he said. It averaged $3,472 from 2,621 theaters.

Based on the bestselling book by Billie Letts, "Where the Heart Is" stars Natalie Portman as a young woman who is abandoned at a Wal-Mart and gives birth there. The film's average was $3,406.

After 10 days in release, the sports-themed romance "Love and Basketball" has earned $15.9 million. New Line's other film in the top 10, "Final Destination," tied for the last spot with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Inc.'s "Return to Me," each reporting about $2.5 million.

Two new movies scored well in limited release. The experimental "Time Code" had a solid debut, grossing $95,000 and averaging an impressive $13,571 in seven theaters. Directed by Mike Figgis ("Leaving Las Vegas"), "Time Code" was shot by four cameras in single, 93-minute takes and plays out on four separate frames on screen.

Kevin Spacey's "The Big Kahuna" opened in eight theaters and took in $88,000 for an $11,000 average. Danny DeVito and Peter Facinelli co-star in the story of three salesmen at ideological odds as they try to land a big customer at a convention.

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