Monday, May 19, 2003

'Matrix Reloaded' sets record

By Gary Gentile
The Associated Press

Los Angeles - Hordes of fans took another trip down the rabbit hole with Neo, Trinity and the other characters of The Matrix Reloaded, giving the sequel the highest opening weekend gross of any R-rated film on record.

1. The Matrix Reloaded, $93.3 M
2. Daddy Day Care, $19.2 M
3. X2: X-Men United, $17.1 M
4. Down With Love, $7.6 M
5. The Lizzie McGuire Movie, $4.5 M
6. Anger Management, $3.6 M
7. Identity, $3.4 M
8. Holes, $3 M
9. A Mighty Wind, $1.7 M
10. Bend It Like Beckham, $1.5 M
The Warner Bros. sequel to 1999's The Matrix took in an estimated $93.3 million from Friday through Sunday, capturing 59.8 percent of the total gross of the weekend's top 12 films, according to studio estimates.

Matrix Reloaded made mincemeat out of the previous R-rated weekend record holder, 2001's Hannibal, which brought in $58 million. Matrix Reloaded opened in limited previews Wednesday night, and its total for all five days was estimated at $135.8 million.

Matrix Reloaded becomes the second-highest first weekend grossing film of all time, behind last year's PG-13-rated Spider-Man, which took in $114.8 million its opening weekend. Matrix Reloaded was rated R for violence and some sexuality.

Overall, however, Hollywood revenues were down, with the top 12 movies grossing $162.6 million, off 4 percent compared to the same weekend last year.

Matrix Reloaded audiences were split almost evenly between those under and over 25, and many theater owners reported a large number of families seeing the film, according to Warner Bros. research.

"You had a whole legion of fans under 17 whose parents were obviously willing to take them to see this movie," said Paul Dergarabedian, president of box-office tracker Exhibitor Relations Co. "You can almost call this an R-rated family film."

"This just shows that ratings matter to a point, but if people want to see the movie, they're going to see the movie," Dergarabedian said.

The film is the second of a trilogy, which will wrap up in November with The Matrix Revolutions.

Warner Bros. held back on a major television ad campaign for the film, relying instead on word of mouth from the releases of the DVD of The Matrix, of a video game based on the films and of a series of animated shorts.

The Matrix Reloaded easily knocked its sci-fi rival, X2: X-Men United, into third place. X2 took in $17.1 million for a total three-week take of $174 million.

A surprise was the resilience of the Eddie Murphy family comedy Daddy Day Care, which only slipped 30 percent at the box office in its second week and retained its second-place showing with a three-day gross of $19.2 million, for a three-week total of $51.4 million.

"To be wedged between these two monsters and hold as well as we did makes it that much better," said Rory Bruer, Sony head of distribution.

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