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'Hannibal' Out-Grosses the Competition Again

Box Office * Third-straight No. 1 showing comes at the expense of 'Monkeybone' and 'Graceland' debuts.

February 26, 2001|From ASSOCIATED PRESS

Elvis-impersonating thugs and a cartoon monkey were no match for Hannibal Lecter at the nation's movie box offices over the weekend.

"Hannibal," the sequel to "The Silence of the Lambs," held the top box-office spot for the third straight weekend, taking in $15.8 million, according to studio estimates Sunday. The serial-killer flick has grossed $128.5 million in just 17 days.

The new movies "3000 Miles to Graceland" and "Monkeybone," both poorly received by critics, had meager debuts.

"Graceland," starring Kevin Costner and Kurt Russell as casino thieves disguised as Elvis impersonators, opened in fourth place with $7.1 million. Playing in 2,545 theaters, it averaged just $2,802 a cinema, compared with a $4,800 average in 3,292 locations for "Hannibal."

"I think it might have been partly due to the reviews," said Dan Fellman, head of distribution for Warner Bros., which released "Graceland." "But actually, considering it's a very crowded marketplace, we got opened all right."

"Monkeybone," starring Brendan Fraser in a combination of live action and animation, had a dismal debut of $2.6 million, finishing in 11th place. Fraser plays a comatose cartoonist tormented by his simian creation. The movie averaged just $1,530 in 1,722 theaters.

"It's disappointing," said Bruce Snyder, head of distribution for 20th Century Fox, which released "Monkeybone." "With animation and live action, it's risky. It's an ambitious attempt. It's an original. But it doesn't look like anybody's coming."

The overall box office, which has increased for 19 straight weekends, was virtually even with the same weekend a year ago. The top 12 movies grossed about $75.5 million.

So far this year, Hollywood's revenues are at $1.2 billion, 32% ahead of last year.

"We're definitely on a roll," said Paul Dergarabedian, president of Exhibitor Relations, which tracks box office revenues. "It's a product of the holdover strength of movies from late last year, then of course 'Hannibal,' and a general continued winning streak with other films."

"Traffic," "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" and "Chocolat" continued to capitalize on their Academy Award best picture nominations. "Crouching Tiger" and "Traffic" both are climbing toward the $100-million mark, an impressive accomplishment for a Mandarin-language epic and a drug-war drama.

With $6.3 million, "Crouching Tiger" pushed its total to $81.6 million. "Traffic" took in $5.1 million, increasing its gross to $86.1 million.

"We were all dubious about its level of grossing potential," said Jack Foley, senior vice president for distribution at USA Films, which released "Traffic." "The fact that the number '86 million' is coming out of mouths is extraordinary, but the fact of the matter is, no one's complaining."



Estimated weekend grosses (in millions):

1. "Hannibal": $15.8

2. "Down to Earth": $11.6

3. "Recess: School's Out": $7.3

4. "3000 Miles to Graceland": $7.1

5. "Crouching Tiger . . .": $6.3

6. "Sweet November": $5.3

7. "Traffic": $5.1

8. "Chocolat": $4.7

9. "The Wedding Planner": $4

10. "Cast Away": $3.4

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