"School of Rock" premiered at the head of the class this weekend with an estimated gross of $20.2 million for the music-themed comedy starring Jack Black, while "Out of Time," a noirish thriller with Denzel Washington in the lead, came in second with about $17 million.
Although "School of Rock" fell short of Black's highest opening of $22.5 million for "Shallow Hal," the Paramount film was the best ever for director Richard Linklater, known for his independent hits "Slacker" and "Dazed and Confused." "School of Rock," the director's most mainstream film, appealed to a wide audience. Moviegoers were equally divided between male and female, with 52% under the age of 25.
The film, written for Black by his friend Mike White ("Chuck and Buck"), received generally positive reviews and word of mouth.
"Rock" posted a solid per-theater average of $7,727 in 2,614 locations. MGM's "Time" was directed by Carl Franklin, who previously worked with Washington on the under-appreciated "Devil in a Blue Dress." In 3,076 theaters, "Time" took in $5,526 per venue.
Among limited-release openings, Miramax's "The Station Agent" grossed a robust $55,500 in three locations in New York and Los Angeles for a per theater average of $18,500. "Wonderland," with Val Kilmer playing late porn star John C. Holmes, grossed an estimated $90,000 in five theaters in the same markets for an average of $18,000 per venue, Lions Gate Films reported.
ThinkFilm's "The Event" brought in $18,461 on nine screens for an average of $2,051. And the satirical independent film "Bubba Ho-Tep" earned an estimated $61,601 over the weekend in six theaters, including Landmark's Nuart in West Los Angeles, which tallied an impressive $20,029. The film also opened in New York, Seattle and Portland.
Sofia Coppola's "Lost in Translation," meanwhile, expanded to 864 theaters from 488 last week, grossing an estimated $4.3 million and moving up from 10th to seventh place.
The Focus Features release, starring Bill Murray and Scarlett Johansson as an unlikely pair of insomniacs ensconced at a Tokyo hotel, has taken in $14.2 million for four weekends.
With Disney adding 471 theaters this weekend, writer-director Audrey Wells' romantic dramedy "Under the Tuscan Sun," starring Diane Lane, dropped only 18% in its second weekend. That film has grossed $21 million so far.
For a couple of other films, however, the second-weekend drops were steeper.
Universal's "The Rundown," with the Rock, fell 47% with an estimated gross of $9.8 million and a total of $32.7 million in its first 10 days.
Miramax's "Duplex" dropped 53%, grossing $2.1 million and $7.8 million to date.
The top 10 films grossed an estimated $77.6 million, a 4% increase from last weekend, but a drop of 21% compared to the same weekend last year, according to the box office tracking firm Nielsen EDI Inc.
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Preliminary results based on studio projections.
*--* Movie 3-day gross Total (millions)
*--* School of Rock $20.2 $20.2
Out of Time 17.0 17.0
The Rundown 9.8 32.7
Under the Tuscan Sun 7.9 21.0
Secondhand Lions 5.4 30.8
Underworld 4.8 44.5
Lost in Translation 4.3 14.2
The Fighting Temptations 3.3 24.5
Once Upon a Time in Mexico 2.6 53.0
Cold Creek Manor 2.5 18.3 Source: Nielsen EDI Inc. Los Angeles Times