'XXX' Still On Top

Dr. William Petit and his family in undated family photo. The Conn. doctor survived a brutal home invasion, but his wife and daughters were murdered.
Family Photo
With big hits on the wane as summer winds down, espionage thriller "XXX" maintained its grip on the No. 1 spot at the box office.

Vin Diesel's "XXX" remained in the top spot at the box office for the second straight weekend, according to studio estimates Sunday, taking in $23 million to push its 10-day total to $84.9 million.

"Signs," starring Mel Gibson as a farmer fending off hostile visitors from the skies, came in at No. 2 again with $19.5 million, raising its 17-day take to $150.7 million.

"Blue Crush," with Kate Bosworth, Michelle Rodriguez and Sanoe Lake as die-hard Hawaiian surfers, debuted in third place with $15.2 million, and that's a surprise, reports Early Show Entertainment Contributor Laurie Hibberd.

"It is a time-honored formula of bikini and babes at the beach and summer lovin' and it's totally updated," said Hibberd. "Considering it had no marquee value it did very, very well."

The weekend's other major release, Eddie Murphy's sci-fi comedy "The Adventures of Pluto Nash," bombed with just $2.15 million, coming in at No. 10. The movie, which cost about $90 million, was not screened in advance for critics, generally a sign that it's a stinker.

"Advanced buzz was so bad that the studio refused to screen it for critics in advance of the opening," said Hibberd.

In narrow release, Gwyneth Paltrow's scholarly romance "Possession" debuted with a respectable $1.6 million. The German-language food flick "Mostly Martha," about feuding restaurant chefs, opened strongly with $42,000 in two New York City theaters and expands to the top 10 markets next weekend.

Hibberd reports these are other small gems this summer that got overshadowed by the big Hollywood blockbusters:

  • The Kid Stays In The Picture
  • "Scarlet Diva"
  • "Tadpole"
  • "24 Hour Party People"
  • "Sunshine State
"My Big Fat Greek Wedding," on the other hand, should have come and gone, but instead was fifth, said Hibberd. "It opened in April but it has stuck around thanks to fantastic word of mouth - it's probably going to make $60 million," she said. "It has been the little movie that people snuck away to see while everyone was seeing the big blockbusters."

Sony, which released "Spider-Man," "Men in Black II," "XXX" and "Mr. Deeds," this weekend broke the Hollywood record for highest yearly revenues by a single studio. It edged past the previous record, also held by Sony, of $1.27 billion set in 1997, when the studio's releases included "Men in Black," "Air Force One" and "My Best Friend's Wedding."

"This has been a dream year for the studio," said Amy Pascal, chairman of Sony's Columbia Pictures.

Sony still has a healthy lineup to come before year's end, including the animated "Adam Sandler's 8 Crazy Nights," Sandler and Emily Watson in "Punch Drunk Love," Murphy and Owen Wilson in "I Spy" and Jennifer Lopez in "Maid in Manhattan."

The studio also has plenty of mileage left in "XXX," which confirmed Diesel's status as Hollywood's big new action star. So far, the film has done slightly better business than Diesel's breakout movie last year, "The Fast and the Furious," which grossed $144.5 million.

"The disadvantage of late summer is it's hard to get a big opening because people are less in tune for going to the movies," Blake said. "The advantage is there's a lot less competition. If you've got a movie that plays, you can do really well, and this movie plays."

Overall, Hollywood revenues slipped for the fifth straight week after months of surging business. The top 12 films took in $101.4 million, down 2 percent from the same weekend last year.

Summer revenues still remain about 5 percent ahead of the record set last year. And Hollywood remains on track to break 2001's yearlong box-office record of $8.4 billion, said Paul Dergarabedian, president of Exhibitor Relations, which tracks ticket sales.

These are the estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday at North American theaters, according to Exhibitor Relations Co. Inc.

  1. "XXX," $23 million.
  2. "Signs," $19.5 million.
  3. "Blue Crush," $15.2 million.
  4. "Spy Kids 2: Island of Lost Dreams," $11.6 million.
  5. "Austin Powers in Goldmember," $8.7 million.
  6. "My Big Fat Greek Wedding," $5.8 million.
  7. "Blood Work," $4.8 million.
  8. "Road to Perdition," $3.8 million.
  9. "The Master of Disguise," $3.3 million.
  10. "The Adventures of Pluto Nash," $2.15 million.