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'Dragon' fends off all rivals

October 14, 2002|R. Kinsey Lowe | Times Staff Writer

"Red Dragon" and "Sweet Home Alabama" withstood an onslaught of new films over the Columbus Day weekend, holding onto the No. 1 and 2 spots, respectively, while "Brown Sugar" emerged as the sweetest performer among half a dozen moderately wide releases to debut in third place, according to studio projections released Sunday.

Meanwhile, Madonna's latest, "Swept Away," was given the brushoff, earning just $375,000 on 196 screens.

Anthony Hopkins, in his third outing as Hannibal the Cannibal, sliced off an estimated $17.6 million, dropping a steep 52%, bringing the Universal picture's 10-day total to $63.2 million.

Disney's Reese Witherspoon romantic comedy remained strong in its third weekend, declining only 34% to take in an estimated $14.1 million. Its 17-day total comes to about $85 million.

Rick Famuyiwa's "Brown Sugar," a hip-hop romantic comedy starring Taye Diggs and Sanaa Lathan, grossed an estimated $11.05 million, with an impressive per-theater average of $8,054 in 1,372 theaters.

But the holiday weekend's biggest winner was probably Paul Thomas Anderson's foray into romantic comedy, "Punch Drunk Love," in which the writer-director paired Adam Sandler and Emily Watson. It enjoyed a muscular per-theater average of $76,000 in only five theaters in L.A., New York and Toronto and $380,000 total. Sony boasted that it is the highest per-theater average for a limited opening in more than two theaters.

"Bowling for Columbine," Michael Moore's provocative documentary about the U.S. gun culture, debuted with a solid per-theater average of $25,750 in eight locations in Los Angeles and New York for a total of $206,000.

Among other new movies this holiday weekend, 20th Century Fox's "The Transporter" landed in fourth place with an estimated $9.15 million in 2,572 theaters, averaging $3,558.

Debuting in seventh place, "White Oleander" brought in an estimated $5.655 million in 1,510 theaters, averaging $3,745 per theater. With its power cast of Michelle Pfeiffer, Renee Zellweger, Robin Wright Penn and newcomer Alison Lohman and positive reviews, it should've fared better.

Also based on a popular novel, Disney's family fantasy "Tuck Everlasting" opened at No. 8 with an estimated $5.5 million on 1,185 screens, averaging $4,658 per theater. It was directed by Jay Russell ("My Dog Skip") and stars Alexis Bledel ("The Gilmore Girls") and Jonathan Jackson.

The fifth of the new movies opening in the top 10 was New Line's long-delayed mob-themed comedy-drama "Knockaround Guys," which came in ninth with an estimated $5.04 million on 1,806 screens, averaging $2,791. Some of the credit for the little-heralded film's performance is the popularity of Vin Diesel, who was cast in the film before "XXX" and "The Fast and the Furious" made him famous.

In fifth place, the incredibly durable "My Big Fat Greek Wedding" declined only 4% with an estimated $7.8 million, for a total of about $158.4 million. The Jackie Chan secret-agent action comedy "The Tuxedo" slipped 30% from third to sixth place, with an estimated $7 million and a three-weekend total of $37million. "Barbershop" was trimmed 40% from fifth to 10th, but it took in an estimated $4 million, for a five-weekend, robust total of $65.4 million.

One last limited bow of note, the Jerry Seinfeld vehicle "Comedian," opened in four theaters in Los Angeles and New York with $61,000 or $15,250 per theater.

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