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Audiences Just Can't Resist 'Heartbreakers'

Box Office: Estimates say it and 'The Brothers' finish as top two; Oscar buzz aids 'Tiger,' 'Traffic,' 'Chocolat.'

March 26, 2001|From Associated Press

The romantic comedies "Heartbreakers" and "The Brothers" topped the box office, but Oscar contenders continued to do booming business on Academy Award weekend.

"Heartbreakers," starring Sigourney Weaver and Jennifer Love Hewitt as a mother-daughter con team, opened at No. 1 with $12.3 million. "The Brothers" premiered in second with $10.7 million, according to industry estimates Sunday.

"The marketplace can always use a good date film. These two movies offered a couple different ways to do that," said Paul Dergarabedian of Exhibitor Relations, which tracks box-office figures. "The romantic comedy is a mainstay . . . and these really show that that genre is alive and well."

"Heartbreakers" attracted men and women, young and old.

"We were excited that it opened so well because it's really a word-of-mouth movie," producer John Davis said.

The only other new film in wide release was "Say It Isn't So," starring Chris Klein and Heather Graham as lovers who mistakenly believe they are brother and sister. It opened to poor reviews and earned a meager $3.1 million for 10th place.

"The Brothers" stars Morris Chestnut, Bill Bellamy, D.L. Hughley and Shemar Moore (of TV's "The Young and the Restless") as four successful men who must take stock of their lives when one becomes engaged.

The movie's excellent opening was due, in part, to soap opera fans who took dates to see it, and in part to a groundswell of support from the black community for a film that shows successful African Americans dealing with real-life problems, said Valerie Van Gelder, executive vice president of marketing for Sony's Screen Gems, which distributed the film.

"There's an audience out there that's really, really hungry for this sort of thing," she said.

Oscar nominations continued to boost the fortunes of best picture nominees, even though the films have been out for months.

"Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" was in fifth place with $4.7 million. It picked up 167 more theaters, and its ticket sales were up 15%.

"Traffic" was at No. 7 with $3.9 million, up 14%.

"Chocolat," at No. 9, lost 120 theaters but only 4% of its gross to finish with $3.3 million. The film's box-office take has doubled in the weeks since it was nominated.

Overall, however, receipts were down for a third straight weekend. The top 12 movies grossed $70 million, slipping from $72.6 million the previous weekend.

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