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Halloween Film Crowds Slight

Hollywood just doesn't like Halloween, reports Early Show Contributor Gail OÂ'Neill in her weekly segment, Box Office Plus.

People are too busy trick-or-treating and partying to go to the movies, she explains, adding that this weekÂ's top five add up to one of the lowest grosses of the year.

At No. 1 is House on Haunted Hill with $15 million. Slipping from No. 1 to No. 2 is The Best Man, with $6.5 million. Hanging on at No. 3 is Double Jeopardy, which should cross the $100 million mark within the next week.
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It is followed by American Beauty and a disappointing debut for Music of the Heart.

House on Haunted Hill could be on its way to $100 million, or poor word-of-mouth reports might scare moviegoers away. Next week's box office figures will probably be a little more telling.

Setting a Halloween weekend box office opening record, House on Haunted Hill is the latest horror hit of 1999. But this Halloween weekend, Warner Brothers was more afraid of critics. It didn't want any bad reviews scaring moviegoers away, so it wouldn't let critics see the film before anyone else.

According to Entertainment Weekly editor Jess Cagle, "It is a very clear signal that the studio thinks they have a dog on their hands."

With critics stifled, movie marketers offered ticket buyers the possibility of a $100,000 cash prize.

One thing the No. 1 and No. 2 movies have in common: Taye Diggs. Not only does he appear in Haunted Hill, but heÂ's also the star of The Best Man, a movie that cost $9 million to make and that has taken in $18 million so far.

"I'm happy. I'm psyched," says Diggs. "But everybody in the industry tells me, Â'Oh, congratulations,Â' and they follow it with Â'Enjoy it while you can,Â' with emphasis on Â'while you can,Â' so I realize it's going to be a roller-coaster ride."

A low point in that ride is dealing with what Diggs calls racism against films with a black cast, as when Entertainment Weekly called The Best Man "a Big Chill for African-Americans."

Actor Diggs' objection: "The fact that they said it was for African-Americans specifically connotes that anyone that is nonblack will not enjoy this movie."

The magazine did publish DiggsÂ' response, urging readers to have an open mind.

"It really paid off," says Diggs, "and I'm very, very thankful for all the support."

Next week, the man trying to make an impact will be Denzel Washington, who opens in The Bone Collector.

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