J.Lo sweeps to top of box office
LOS ANGELES (AP) - Jennifer Lopez's romantic Maid in Manhattan cleaned up at the weekend box office, narrowly sweeping past Star Trek: Nemesis.
Maid debuted with $19 million (all figures U.S.), while the 10th Star Trek adventure took second place with $18.75 million, according to studio estimates Sunday.
Premiering at No. 3 with $13.05 million was Drumline, an energetic tale of a Harlem drummer playing in a marching band at a Southern university. Rob Schneider's comedy The Hot Chick debuted with $7.5 million, tying for No. 4 with the James Bond flick Die Another Day, last weekend's top movie.
It was the first time in weeks that new movies led the box office charts. Die Another Day and Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets had been duking it out for the No. 1 and 2 spots over the last few weekends.
That pattern will continue next weekend with a big lineup of debuts, including The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, Martin Scorsese's Gangs of New York and Sandra Bullock's romance Two Weeks Notice.
The overall box office rose slightly, with the top 12 movies grossing $90.5 million, up three per cent from the same weekend last year.
Maid in Manhattan, a Pretty Woman-style romance, stars Lopez as a hotel housekeeper wooed by a political heir, played by Ralph Fiennes. Women made up 60 per cent of the audience.
Though Two Weeks Notice will compete for the same crowd, Maid in Manhattan has a good head-start on the holidays, when romantic comedies tend to draw solid audiences, said Tom Sherak, a partner in Revolution Studios, which produced the movie for distributor Sony.
"It's a great opening, and now we're about to come up on the 10 biggest consecutive days of the year, the time when people really go out to the movies," Sherak said.
Star Trek: Nemesis had the weakest debut for the franchise since 1991's Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, the last adventure starring the original 1960s TV cast. The three previous Trek movies featuring the Next Generation cast each opened with $22 million or more.
The 35-year-old franchise is showing its age, with men older than 25 making up the biggest share of the audience.
"But we still feel comfortable going into the holidays," said Wayne Lewellen, head of distribution for Star Trek studio Paramount. ``We're hoping the audience that didn't show up this weekend will find the movie in the next few weekends."
Jack Nicholson's dark comedy About Schmidt opened strongly in limited release, taking in $283,000 at six theatres for a whopping $47,167 average. Nicholson plays a drab, retired insurance man who re-examines his life and isn't sure he likes what he sees.
Directed by Alexander Payne (Election), About Schmidt was picked as the year's best film Saturday by the Los Angeles Film Critics Association, which also named Nicholson best actor. It expands to more cities Friday and right after New Year's.
Also opening in limited release was the feel-good Irish drama Evelyn, with Die Another Day star Pierce Brosnan. Evelyn took in $72,000 at 15 theatres for a $4,800 average.
Estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday at North American theatres, according to box office tracker Exhibitor Relations Co. Inc. Final figures will be released Monday.
1. Maid in Manhattan, $19 million.
2. Star Trek: Nemesis, $18.75 million.
3. Drumline, $13.05 million.
4 (tie). The Hot Chick, $7.5 million.
4 (tie). Die Another Day, $7.5 million.
6. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, $6.15 million.
7. Analyze That, $5.3 million.
8. The Santa Clause 2, $4 million.
9. Treasure Planet, $3 million.
10. Empire, $2.8 million.