'XXX' Blasts To Top Of Box Office

Xander (Vin Diesel) is coerced by NSA Agent Gibbons (Samuel L. Jackson,) to cooperate with the government to infiltrate an underground Russian crime ring and avoid going to prison.
COLUMBIA PICTURES
The heavily hyped "XXX" got off to an explosive start, finishing on top of the box office in a summer weekend that saw three of the top five spots go to espionage movies.

And actor Vin Diesel cemented his reputation as a major box office draw, scoring big with his action role in "XXX," which grossed $46 million in its opening weekend, Laurie Hibberd reports for The Early Show.

"Signs" with Mel Gibson fell off 50 percent but still made $30 million for a second place finish. "Spy Kids 2: The Island of Lost Dreams" opened in third place with a disappointing $17 million.

"Austin Powers in Goldmember" also had a major drop off, making just $13 million. Clint Eastwood's latest movie "Blood Work" debuted in fifth place with an anemic $7 million.

Despite big numbers for the top films, overall box office remained lower than the same weekend last year, said Paul Dergarabedian, president of box office tracker Exhibitor Relations.

"This is the fourth down weekend in a row," he said. "We're still on track to surpass last year's summer box office, but it's going to be tighter than we thought."

The weekend did prove that Vin Diesel is Hollywood's next big action star, Dergarabedian said.

"This guy can open a movie and he has strong appeal to teens and early 20-somethings, who are the target audience in the summer," he said.

Helping the strong showing for "XXX" was its PG-13 rating and the fact that it was an original film in a summer full of sequels, said Tom Sherak, a partner at Revolution Studios, which released the film in conjunction with Sony Pictures.

"The PG-13 rating let us get to a larger audience," Sherak said. "And it helps that this picture doesn't have a 2 or a 3 in front of it."

A sequel to "XXX" is already in the works, however, and is targeted for a summer 2004 opening, he said.

One sequel, "Spy Kids 2," did especially well considering that most tickets were sold at reduced prices for children, Dergarabedian said.

The film was drawing positive reviews and strong audience response, said David Kaminow, a senior vice president at Miramax, parent company of Dimension Films, which released the movie.

While the numbers for "Blood Work" were relatively low, the film is aimed at an older audience that doesn't always turn out on opening weekend, Dergarabedian said.

"Older audiences' normal pattern is to seek out a movie over time," he said.

With no blockbusters waiting in the wings, the mid-August releases should continue to do well at the box office.

"The Good Girl," starring Jennifer Aniston, did near record business in very limited release, said Steve Gilula, president of distribution for Fox Searchlight.

The darkly comic story of a discount store clerk who falls into an illicit affair, earned $148,000 over the weekend in just four theaters - two in New York and two in Los Angeles. It was the biggest U.S. opening by an independent film in more than a year, Gilula said.

"The Good Girl" will expand to 18 additional cities this week.

Estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday at North American theaters, according to Hollywood.com:


  1. "XXX," $46 million.
  2. "Signs," $30 million.
  3. "Spy Kids 2: The Island of Lost Dreams," $17 million.
  4. "Austin Powers in Goldmember," $13 million.
  5. "Blood Work," $7.2 million.
  6. "The Master of Disguise," $5.1 million.
  7. "The Road to Perdition," $4 million.
  8. "Martin Lawrence Live: Runteldat," $3.17 million.
  9. "My Big Fat Greek Wedding," $3.15 million.
  10. "Stuart Little 2," $2.7 million.