Coulda Been 'The Contender'

Police forensic officers arrive at a cordoned off grocery store in Birmingham, England, Wednesday, Jan. 31, 2007, following dawn raids when British police arrested nine men in an alleged kidnapping plot. The men planned to behead a British Muslim soldier and broadcast the act on the Internet, Sky News reported. Police would not comment on that report, but said the plot was the first of its kind uncovered in Britain. AP Photo/Simon Dawson

Film fans turned their backs on the new releases this weekend, but the turnstiles continued to spin for a couple of films with some staying power. As a matter of fact, reports CBS News Early Show Contributor Laurie Hibberd, Meet the Parents may be a blockbuster in the making.

Here are the top five weekend movies, according to Hollywood.com:
  1. Meet the Parents, $21.3 million
  2. Remember the Titans, $13.5 million
  3. Lost Souls, $8.4 million
  4. Ladies Man, $5.7 million
  5. The Contender, $5.5 million
Hibberd says The Contender's debut in fifth place is probably because political dramas tend to have a hard time getting the vote of the ticket buyers.

In The Contender, Jeff Bridges plays a president with a lot to…well, contend with. Joan Allen plays a senator hand-picked to replace a dearly departed vice president. The problem is, there are sexual skeletons in her closet.

The Contender was a big hit among the industry "in-crowd" at its Toronto premiere last month. But in recent years, acclaimed films with political themes (Primary Colors, Wag the Dog, and The American President) have been lame ducks at the box office. Bridges thinks he knows the reason.

"Probably for the same reason why it's hard to get them into the polls," he says. "I think…they want to see politics more in the 'soap opera' thing… (The Contender) kind of works on that level, too."

Bridges was initially reluctant to play a president, thinking he didn't have the age and authority to pull it off. But he found his inspiration close to home, in his late father, the actor Lloyd Bridges.

Says Bridges, "It's funny. I'll run across people that met my dad even for a…few minutes… And I can see that…they have been touched by him, you know. And he had this way of ingratiating himself and making everybody feel important."

Some insiders, reports Hibberd, are surprised The Contender didn't do better at the box office, despite good reviews. Word of mouth will either help or hurt this movie, and next week's figures will tell.

  • CBSNews.com staff CBSNews.com staff

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