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With 'Spy Kids' Still in Top Spot, Family Flicks Rule Ticket Sales

Box Office: The film, along with 'Pokemon 3,' rakes in about a third of the revenues from top 12 movies.

April 09, 2001|From Associated Press

"Spy Kids" remains under close surveillance: The family flick about pint-sized secret agents was the No. 1 movie for the second straight weekend despite a flurry of new films.

Taking in $17.8 million over the weekend, "Spy Kids" pushed its total to $49 million in 10 days of release, according to studio estimates Sunday.

"Kids rule for a second week," said David Kaminow, senior vice president for marketing for Miramax, which distributed "Spy Kids."

The crime thriller "Along Came a Spider," starring Morgan Freeman and Monica Potter in a convoluted kidnapping tale, debuted in second place with $17.1 million.

Johnny Depp's "Blow," based on the true story of an American who became an early smuggler of South American cocaine in the 1970s, premiered at No. 3 with $12.5 million. "Pokemon 3: The Movie," the latest big-screen cartoon inspired by the Nintendo game, opened in fourth place with $9.2 million. "Just Visiting," a remake of the French comedy "Les Visiteurs" about a medieval count and his servant who are hurled into the present day, tanked with a debut of just $2.3 million.

Playing in 1,590 theaters, "Just Visiting" averaged an anemic $1,447 per cinema, compared with $6,759 in 2,530 locations for "Along Came a Spider." "Blow" averaged $5,536 a theater in 2,249 locations, and "Pokemon" did $3,432 in 2,675 cinemas.

Between them, the family films "Spy Kids" and "Pokemon" accounted for nearly a third of the revenues taken in by the top 12 movies. "It tells you that families and kids, they're big moviegoers. All you've got to do is put the movie in front of them, and if you do good marketing, they'll come to see it," said Paul Dergarabedian, president of Exhibitor Relations, which tracks the box office.

Overall, the box office was up for the second straight weekend, with the top 12 movies grossing $84.5 million, a 15.5% increase over the same weekend last year.

That's good news for the movie industry, which heads into the busy summer season with what appears to be a strong slate of potential hits. "The Mummy Returns" and "Pearl Harbor" open in May, with big films such as "Tomb Raider," "Planet of the Apes," "Jurassic Park 3" and Steven Spielberg's "A.I." following in June and July.

A prequel to the 1997 thriller "Kiss the Girls," "Along Came a Spider" debuted more strongly and should surpass the $60 million its predecessor took in, said Rob Friedman, vice chairman of the motion-picture group at Paramount, which released both films.

"Pokemon" appears to have played itself out. The first installment debuted with $31 million in 1999, the second one dropped to a $21.5-million opening and the third was less than half that. "Pokemon 3" still will turn a profit, but it probably will be the last movie in the series, said Dan Fellman, head of distribution for Warner Bros., which released the film. "Nintendo continues to do well with the game," Fellman said. "If you look at the numbers, the audience is definitely not what it was for the movies."

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