Monday, September 15, 2003

Depp leads movie fans to 'Mexico'

The Associated Press

Johnny Depp has made another transformation: oddball actor to box office moneymaker.

The star known for playing eccentrics in cult favorites such as Ed Wood and Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas is establishing himself as a major box office draw with two films this weekend in the top five.

Once Upon a Time in Mexico, starring Antonio Banderas and Depp, debuted in first place with $24 million, according to industry estimates Sunday.

It was Depp's second consecutive No. 1 debut after the summertime hit Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl.

Pirates, still performing strongly in its 10th week of release, came in at No. 5 with $4.6 million. So far, it has earned $288 million, making it the second highest-grossing movie of the year, behind Finding Nemo.

"Johnny Depp's career has been very interesting but he's normally not in the big blockbusters," said Paul Dergarabedian, president of box office tracker Exhibitor Relations Co. "Suddenly, he's in the No. 1 and No. 5 movie in the same weekend. For any actor that's great, and for Johnny Depp it's totally unexpected and welcome."

The Nicolas Cage caper Matchstick Men, about a con man and his daughter, opened in second place with $13.3 million, a debut consistent with some of Cage's recent underperforming films such as Windtalkers and Captain Corelli's Mandolin.

"This wasn't the kind of film that could strike across-the-board appeal," said Brandon Gray, proprietor of

The cheaply made trapped-in-the-woods horror film Cabin Fever was third with $8.5 million.


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

1. "Once Upon a Time in Mexico," $24 million.

2. "Matchstick Men," $13.3 million.

3. "Cabin Fever," $8.5 million.

4. "Dickie Roberts: Former Child Star," $5 million.

5. "Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl," $4.6 million.

6. "Freaky Friday," $4.1 million.

7. "Jeepers Creepers 2," $3 million.

8. "Open Range," $2.809 million.

9. "S.W.A.T.", $2.800 million.

10. "Seabiscuit," $2.7 million.

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