Monday, August 21, 2000

Sluggish weekend at movies pushes 'Cell' to top spot

By David Germain
Associated Press

        LOS ANGELES — A dark journey into a murderer's mind and a lively jaunt with four comedians led a slow weekend at theaters.

        The Cell,' a glossy thriller starring Jennifer Lopez as a psychologist who ventures into a serial killer's head, debuted as the top film with $17.2 million, according to studio estimates Sunday.

        Spike Lee's documentary-style The Original Kings of Comedy, capturing a hit comic tour both on stage and backstage, opened at No. 2 with $11.7 million.

        Japan's favorite monster had a modest return to theaters as Godzilla 2000 opened at No. 11 with $4.6 million. The movie is a lower-budget Japanese film, not a sequel to the Hollywood version from 1998.

        While The Cell and The Original Kings of Comedy did a bit better than studios had forecast, the late-summer doldrums continued for Hollywood overall. The top 12 movies grossed an estimated $88.7 million, off 35.5 percent from the same weekend last year, when The Sixth Sense continued to rule the box office.

        With just two weekends left, summer 2000 likely will come in about $200 million below last year's record $3 billion in revenues.

        The Cell co-stars Vincent D'Onofrio as the serial killer and Vince Vaughn as an FBI agent pursuing him. Directed by Tarsem Singh, a commercial and music-video veteran, The Cell features striking images to represent the killer's twisted mind.

        Though Godzilla 2000 finished out of the top 10, it was a cheap release for distributor Sony, which probably will turn a small profit once it plays out in theaters and on video.

        The studio's cost to acquire U.S. rights, re-edit the movie and dub it into English are estimated at less than $1 million. Sony spent a modest $10 million to $12 million on prints and advertising.

        Estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday at North American theaters, according to Exhibitor Relations Co. Inc. Final figures are to be released today.

        1. The Cell, $17.2 million.

        2. The Original Kings of Comedy, $11.7 million.

        3. Space Cowboys, $9.9 million.

        4. The Replacements, $7.5 million.

        5. What Lies Beneath, $7.1 million.

        6. Nutty Professor II: The Klumps, $6.4 million.

        7. Hollow Man, $6.1 million.

        8. Autumn in New York, $5.7 million.

        9. Coyote Ugly, $5 million.

        10. Bless the Child, $4.9 million.


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