Monday, August 12, 2002

'XXX' marks top spot at box office




The Associated Press

        In a big weekend for espionage, a tattooed secret agent, two underage spies and a shagadelic sleuth from the past took three of the top five spots at the box office. XXX, an extreme reworking of the Bond genre, starring Vin Diesel, finished on top with $46 million, according to studio estimates Sunday.

        Spy Kids 2: The Island of Lost Dreams was third with $17 million, and Austin Powers in Goldmember, remained groovy with audiences, finishing fourth with an estimated $13 million for a three-week total of $167.8 million.

        Signs, the Mel Gibson frightener about aliens and crop circles, dropped into second place with $30 million, for a two-week total of $118 million.

        The new Clint Eastwood film Bloodwork opened in fifth place with a modest $7.2 million.

        Despite big numbers for the top films, overall box office numbers remained lower than the same weekend a year ago, said Paul Dergarabedian, president of box office tracker Exhibitor Relations.

        “This is the fourth down weekend in a row,” he said. “We're still on track to surpass last year's summer box office, but it's going to be tighter than we thought.”

        The weekend did prove that Vin Diesel is Hollywood's next big action star, Mr. Dergarabedian said.

        “This guy can open a movie, and he has strong appeal to teens and early 20-somethings, who are the target audience in the summer,” he said.

        Helping the strong showing for XXX was its PG-13 rating and the fact that it was an original film in a summer full of sequels, said Tom Sherak, a partner at Revolution Studios, which released the film in conjunction with Sony Pictures.

        “The PG-13 rating let us get to a larger audience,” Mr. Sherak said. “And it helps that this picture doesn't have a 2 or a 3 in front of it.”

        A sequel to XXX is already in the works, targeted for a summer 2004 opening, he said.

        One sequel, Spy Kids 2, did especially well considering that most tickets were sold at reduced prices for children, Mr. Dergarabedian said.

        The film was drawing positive reviews and strong audience response, said David Kaminow, a senior vice president at Miramax, parent company of Dimension Films, which released the movie.

        While the numbers for Bloodwork were relatively low, the film is aimed at an older audience that doesn't always turn out on opening weekend, Mr. Dergarabedian said.

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

        1. XXX, $46 million.
        2. Signs, $30 million.
        3. Spy Kids 2: The Island of Lost Dreams, $17 million.
        4. Austin Powers in Goldmember, $13 million.
        5. Bloodwork, $7.2 million.
        6. The Master of Disguise, $5.1 million.
        7. The Road to Perdition, $4 million.
        8. Martin Lawrence Live: Runteldat, $3.17 million.
        9. My Big Fat Greek Wedding, $3.15 million.
        10. Stuart Little 2, $2.7 million.

       



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