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Stuart Edges His Fuzzy Nose Ahead of Hanks

Box Office* The mouse debuts at $15.6 million, only about $30,000 more than 'Road to Perdition.'

July 22, 2002|From Times staff and wire service reports

The continuing adventures of a talking mouse and the darkly alluring story of a hit-man father's journey of vengeance fought to a virtual tie for the No. 1 slot during a rare lull in this summer's box office.

"Stuart Little 2," the sequel about the computer-generated rodent, voiced by Michael J. Fox, debuted with $15.6 million, according to studio estimates released Sunday, just $30,000 ahead of the estimate for "Road to Perdition."

The Depression-era gangster tale starring Tom Hanks grossed $15.57 million in its second weekend.

Rankings could change when final numbers are released today.

"We'll settle it tomorrow, Stuart against Tom Hanks," said Jeff Blake, head of distribution for Sony, which released "Stuart Little 2." Some observers had predicted the sequel would open with as much as $25 million.

The last time the No. 1 movie grossed such a low figure was in February, when "Queen of the Damned" opened with $14.8 million.

"Men in Black II," also from Sony, the No. 1 movie for two straight weekends, fell to third place with an estimated $15 million, lifting its 19-day total to $158.6 million.

Estimated total for the top 10 movies for Friday through Sunday was $95.6 million, down 23% from last week, according to box-office tracking firm Nielsen EDI, and down 27% from the top 10 tally of $130.4 million in the comparable weekend last year, when "Jurassic Park III" and "America's Sweethearts" took in nearly $50.8 million and almost $30.2 million, respectively.

Harrison Ford's Soviet submarine drama "K-19: The Widowmaker" from Paramount premiered at No. 4 with $13.1 million.

Warner Bros.' giant-spider spoof "Eight Legged Freaks," starring David Arquette, was in seventh place with $6.7 million, pushing its total to $9.3 million since opening Wednesday.

Miramax's "Tadpole," a favorite at the Sundance Film Festival, opened strongly in limited release, taking in $80,000 at six theaters.

The original "Stuart Little" debuted with $15 million just before Christmas in 1999, then held on and became a $140-million hit. Because "Stuart Little" was a known franchise, industry executives had expected the sequel to open with a higher gross.

"With a family film, you hope for a good opening and great legs," Blake said. "You hope for seven-day-a-week business, where whatever you lose in opening weekend you hope to pick up in the longevity of the picture. That was the case with the first one, and I think 'Stuart' will be fine going forward."

Playing in 3,255 theaters, "Stuart Little 2" averaged a modest $4,793 per cinema, compared to a $5,218 average for the original.

"Road to Perdition" expanded to 2,159 theaters and averaged $7,212. Its 10-day total stands at $47.5 million.

"K-19" averaged $4,632 in 2,828 theaters, and "Eight Legged Freaks" had a weak average of $2,648 in 2,530 cinemas.

Studio executives expect the overall box office to bounce back next weekend when "Austin Powers in Goldmember" hits theaters. Adam Sandler's "Mr. Deeds," also from Sony, took fifth place, with an estimated $7.3 million and cumulative gross of $107.6 million.

Holding its own against the spiders in the creature-feature department, Disney's futuristic dragon tale "Reign of Fire" inhaled an estimated $7.1 million at No. 6, bringing its total to $29 million after two weekends.

Dimension Films' slasher movie retread "Halloween: Resurrection" brought in an estimated $5.4 million in eighth place for a 10-day total of $21.8 million

With an estimate of $5.1 million in ninth place, Disney's whimsical animated alien adventure "Lilo & Stitch" brought its total to $128.5 million.

Rounding out the top 10 was MGM's "The Crocodile Hunter: Collision Course," with an estimated $4.8 million and 10-day total of about $18.9 million.

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