Lopez, Affleck Bomb at North American Box Office
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By Dean Goodman
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - "American Wedding," the third film in the "American Pie" comedy franchise, took the cake at the North American box office in its first weekend, while Hollywood power couple Jennifer Lopez (news) and Ben Affleck (news) ate humble pie with one of the biggest flops of the summer.
According to studio estimates issued on Sunday, "American Wedding" sold $34.3 million worth of tickets since opening on Aug. 1. Last weekend's champion, the family comedy "Spy Kids 3D: Game Over," slipped to No. 2 with $20.1 million for the three days.
At the other end of the charts, the Lopez-Affleck effort "Gigli" (pronounced Jhee-lee), pulled in just $3.8 million, tying at No. 7 with the blockbuster cartoon "Finding Nemo."
Perhaps disproving the adage that no publicity is bad publicity, the marketing for the $54 million-budgeted "Gigli" was hobbled by breathless media coverage of the couple's glamorous real-life exploits, said Tom Sherak, a principal at the film's producer, Revolution Studios.
"We couldn't separate the movie from their real lives," he said. "You don't look at them as actors in this movie. You look at them as Jen and Ben."
Lopez, also known as J.Lo, plays a lesbian crook who helps Affleck's dim-witted character in a kidnapping plot. The film, directed by Oscar-nominated filmmaker Martin Brest ("Scent of a Woman"), was distributed by Sony Corp (NYSE:SNE - news) (news - web sites)'s Columbia Pictures, where privately held Revolution is based.
Critics have savaged "Gigli." The New York Times dismissed it as a "hopelessly misconceived exercise in celebrity self-worship," while the Washington Post said it was "enervated, torpid, slack, dreary and, oh yes, nasty, brutish and long."
"American Wedding," which cost about $55 million to make, will be hugely profitable for Universal Pictures, said Nikki Rocco, president of distribution at the Vivendi Universal SA -owned studio.
With many of the stars from the first two films absent from the new lineup, the film's opening fell short of the $45.1 million bow of "American Pie 2" in 2001. But it did beat the $18.7 million tally for the first outing in 1999. Jason Biggs (news) and Alyson Hannigan (news) star as the couple whose trip to the altar is accompanied by multiple "gross-out" gags.
Jesse Dylan, a son of folk-rock singer and composer Bob Dylan (news), directed.
"Spy Kids 3D: Game Over," featuring a villainous turn from fading star Sylvester Stallone (news), has earned $69 million after two weekends. The film, directed by Robert Rodriguez (news), is on track to surpass its predecessors. "Spy Kids" made $113 million in 2001, while "Spy Kids 2: Island of Lost Dreams" finished with $86 million in 2002.
Rounding out the top five were Disney's "Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl" at No. 3 with $19.1 million, followed by Universal's "Seabiscuit" with $17.5 million and Sony's "Bad Boys II" with $12.7 million.
"Pirates," a buccaneer adventure starring Johnny Depp (news), sailed to $209.8 million after four weekends. "Seabiscuit," featuring Tobey Maguire (news) in the fact-based drama about a race horse, galloped to $49 million after two weekends. "Bad Boys II," reuniting Martin Lawrence (news) and Will Smith (news) as Miami cops, has seized $111.3 million after three weekends, easily eclipsing the $66 million total of its 1995 predecessor.