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<i>Mission Impossible</i> For <i>Big Momma</i>

Mission Impossible 2 managed to cling to the top for a second week, bringing in $27 million, for a total of $131 million.

Its only competition was box office newcomer Big Momma's House. The Martin Lawrence comedy about an FBI agent who goes undercover as a plump Southern grandma brought in $25.6 million and easily took second place, reports CBS News Early Show Contributor Laurie Hibberd.

In what was an unusually quiet week for new theatrical releases, the Disney animation Dinosaur dropped to third place with $12 million and Shanghai Noon, Jackie Chan's action-adventure film, took fourth place with $8.6 million.

Gladiator continued to slay the competition, bringing in $8.1 million, for a total of $138 million, a lower drop-off than most movies have. It is in fifth place at the box-office, an exceptionally strong showing for a movie that has been out five weeks.

Rounding out the top ten, according to Hollywood.com, are:Road Trip, $6.7 million; Frequency, $2.1 million; Small Time Crooks, $1.7 million; U-571, $1.4 million; and Center Stage, $1.1 million.

Running Free, a family film about a horse coming of age in Africa, bombed in its limited-release debut, taking in just $54,500 at 100 theaters for a feeble $545 average. By comparison, Big Momma's House averaged $9,136 at 2,802 cinemas

Salon.com
Salon.comFourth-Grade Fantasy
Big Momma's House proves Martin Lawrence is no Eddie Murphy.

"Big Momma's House is a product of perfect timing," said Paul Dergarabedian, president of Exhibitor Relations, which tracks movie ticket sales. "Every other genre seemed to be represented in the top 10 last weekend except for an urban comedy."

The film played especially well in blacurban markets but also did strongly with general audiences, said Tom Sherak, head of distribution for 20th Century Fox, which released Big Momma's House.

It was Lawrence's best debut, surpassing the $19.2 million taken in by Blue Streak" in its first weekend last September and the $20.4 million opening a year ago of Life, which co-starred Eddie Murphy.

The flying kicks and high-speed chases of Mision Impossible 2 are hard to beat, especially since Tom Cruise claimed to have done 95 percent of the stunt work himself.

The Early Show send two stunt coordinators, Peter Bucossi and Janet Paparazzo, to check out Cruise's moves. Both agreed that the movie's advanced stunt technology was some of the best they've seen.

"They really are rocket scientists when it comes to rigging, and designing, these elaborate stunts like that," said Paparazzo. "They're incredible."

Of the famous opening scene - Cruise clinging to a cliff by his fingernails - Bucossi said, "The real trickery is getting the equipment up there to actually rig him."

Despite Cruise's hands-on involvement in the action, the stunt list in the credits included at least 50 other people. But even with that huge stunt team behind him, the two experts admit, Cruise scored extra points with them for sticking his neck out to get some shots.

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