Monday, March 10, 2003

'Bringing Down the House' defies critics, lands at No. 1

The Associated Press

Bringing Down the House brought down big box office numbers.

The comedy starring Queen Latifah and Steve Martin took in $31.7 million to debut as the weekend's No. 1 film, according to studio estimates Sunday. It was the third-biggest March opening ever, behind the 2002 releases Ice Age and Blade 2, and the strongest opening ever for a Martin film.

The Bruce Willis war movie Tears of the Sun took in $17.2 million to open at No. 2.

Bringing Down the House follows Latifah as an escaped convict who worms her way into the affluent suburban home of an uptight attorney, played by Martin, and the uproar that follows. The film was panned by critics but drew huge audiences, thanks in part to strong marketing by Disney.

The movie averaged $11,317 per theater.

The grim Tears of the Sun stars Willis as a Navy SEAL who takes his squad to rescue a doctor (Monica Bellucci) from a war zone in Nigeria. It took in $5,785 per theater playing to audiences that were 61 percent male, said Tom Sherak, a partner at Revolution Studios, which produced the movie for distributor Sony.

"Tears of the Sun marked a shift from the escapist fare that's dominated the box office in recent weeks, said Paul Dergarabedian, president of box office tracker Exhibitor Relations.

"You look at the top two movies and they couldn't be more different. For the past few weeks it's been all about escapism at the movies in the top five," Dergarabedian said. Tears of the Sun is decidedly not escapist, but still, as an R-rated, very intense movie that, considering the world situation, is pretty timely, $17.2 million is very strong for that film."

Last weekend's No. 2 film, Old School, dropped to No. 3 with $9.2 million. Chicago stayed strong in its 11th weekend, taking in $6.9 million for the No. 4 spot.

The top 10 Estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday at North American theaters, according to Exhibitor Relations Co. Inc.:

1. Bringing Down the House, $31.7 million.
2. Tears of the Sun, $17.2 million.
3. Old School, $9.2 million.
4. Chicago, $6.9 million.
5. How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days, $6.8 million.
6. Cradle 2 the Grave, $6.6 million.
7. Daredevil, $5.2 million.
8. The Jungle Book 2, $4.2 million.
9. Shanghai Knights, $2.7 million.
10. The Life of David Gale, $2.1 million.Box office

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