Weekend Box Office (February 21 - 23, 2003)

THIS WEEKEND Despite a huge fall, Daredevil remained the top choice among moviegoers in North America while the new comedy Old School posted a solid opening in the runnerup spot. Three other new releases met with more modest results and debuted outside of the top five.

Fox's comic book adventure Daredevil became the first movie of the year to repeat in the number one spot and grossed $18.1M in its sophomore frame, according to final studio figures. The Ben Affleck film's 55% decline was steep, but not surprising given the genre. After ten days of fighting crime, the PG-13 pic has banked $69.5M and should find its way to $120-130M domestically. Daredevil marks the third consecutive film for Affleck to spend back-to-back weekends at the top of the charts following last year's Changing Lanes and The Sum of All Fears. The studio is already in early discussions to prepare a sequel to the superhero pic.

Party people lined up for the new DreamWorks comedy Old School which made an impressive debut in second place with $17.5M. The R-rated film stars Luke Wilson, Will Ferrell, and Vince Vaughn and averaged a strong $6,491 from 2,689 theaters. Directed by Road Trip's Todd Phillips, Old School follows three guys in their thirties who open a fraternity house to relive their wilder younger days. Reviews were generally good and audiences were pleased as the film received a B+ grade from CinemaScore.com. According to studio exit polls, 58% of ticket buyers were male and 56% were under 25.

Paramount's How To Lose A Guy in 10 Days continued its successful run grossing $11.6M in its third weekend for a moderate drop of 38%. The Kate Hudson-Matthew McConaughey pic has cozied up with $64.6M in 17 days and is still aiming for the $100M mark.

With no new competition for kids, Disney's The Jungle Book 2 enjoyed the smallest decline in the top ten easing just 24% to $8.7M in its second weekend. The animated sequel has swung to $25.2M in ten days and could find its way to $45-50M. Chicago was close behind Mowgli in fifth place with $8.2M, off 35%, pushing its cume to $94.1M. The Oscar-nominated musical should join the century club next weekend.

Kevin Spacey's new death row drama The Life of David Gale bowed in sixth place with $7.1M from 2,002 theaters for a moderate $3,555 average. Co-starring Kate Winslet, the R-rated picture earned mixed reviews from critics, but pleased audiences as those polled by CinemaScore.com gave the Universal release a grade of A-. The opening was a far cry from the $17.2M bow of the Oscar winner's last major film K-Pax from October 2001.

Jackie Chan and Owen Wilson found their actioner Shanghai Knights slipping 41% to $6.5M in its third round which pushed the cume for the Buena Vista release to $44.5M. Chan's Chinese colleagues will each make their way into the Hollywood landscape in the coming months with next weekend's Jet Li starrer Cradle 2 the Grave, March's Bulletproof Monk with Chow Yun-Fat, and Ang Lee's The Hulk arriving in June.

Civil War buffs gave an eighth-place debut to Ted Turner's epic drama Gods and Generals which grossed $4.7M in its first battle at the box office. Marching into 1,533 theaters, the big-budget prequel to 1993's Gettysburg averaged $3,050 per site. The average was respectable considering the nearly four-hour film could only be shown two or three times per day. Audiences polled by CinemaScore.com gave Gods a decent B+ grade.

Kurt Russell hasn't had a hit in six years and audiences made sure this weekend that the drought will continue. The actor's rogue cop picture Dark Blue was mostly ignored by moviegoers opening with a pitiful $3.9M. Playing in 2,176 theaters, the MGM/UA title averaged an embarrassing $1,783 per venue. Despite some positive reviews, audiences rejected the R-rated film giving it a poor C+ grade from CinemaScore.com.

Rounding out the top ten was competing law enforcement pic The Recruit with $3.4M, down 47%, for a $44.3M cume.

Four films dropped out of the top ten over the weekend. New Line's horror sequel Final Destination 2 saw sales get sliced in half with a $3M frame. Cume to date is $40.3M and a $45M final seems likely. The first Final Destination grossed $53.3M in 2000. Paramount's Oscar contender The Hours slipped 28% to $2.4M and upped its sum to $30M.

The hit family film Kangaroo Jack has taken in $61.9M thus far and should finish with about $65-67M. Deliver Us From Eva from Focus Feature has captured $14.7M and is headed for roughly $17-19M.

The top ten films grossed $91M which was up 16% from last year when Queen of the Damned opened at number one with $14.8M; and up 29% from 2001 when Hannibal remained on top for the third straight weekend with $15.8M.

Compared to projections, Old School opened very close to my $16M forecast while The Life of David Gale debuted just under my $9M prediction. Gods and Generals was on target with my $5M projection, however Dark Blue opened with half of my $8M forecast.

Take this week's NEW Reader Survey on actresses Kate Hudson and Brittany Murphy. In last week's survey, readers were asked which cast they wanted to see the next Star Trek film focus on. Of 1,372 responses, 43% picked The Next Generation, 33% selected Deep Space Nine, and 24% said Voyager.

Be sure to check back on Thursday for a complete summary, including projections, for next weekend when Cradle 2 The Grave opens.

Marketplace: Shop for videos, DVDs, music, books, and posters at discounted prices using search engines

# Title Feb 21 - 23 Feb 14 - 16 % Chg. Theaters Weeks AVG Cumulative Distributor
1 Daredevil $ 18,092,309 $ 40,310,418 -55.1 3,474 2 $ 5,208 $ 69,471,858 Fox
2 Old School 17,453,216 2,689 1 6,491 17,453,216 DreamWorks
3 How To Lose A Guy in 10 Days 11,590,320 18,713,528 -38.1 2,923 3 3,965 64,621,440 Paramount
4 The Jungle Book 2 8,709,662 11,441,733 -23.9 2,815 2 3,094 25,168,387 Buena Vista
5 Chicago 8,241,306 12,708,956 -35.2 2,355 9 3,499 94,094,784 Miramax
6 The Life of David Gale 7,117,225 2,002 1 3,555 7,117,225 Universal
7 Shanghai Knights 6,507,878 11,036,007 -41.0 2,526 3 2,576 44,509,866 Buena Vista
8 Gods and Generals 4,675,246 1,533 1 3,050 4,675,246 Warner Bros.
9 Dark Blue 3,880,688 2,176 1 1,783 3,880,688 MGM
10 The Recruit 3,414,899 6,432,999 -46.9 1,678 4 2,035 44,330,457 Buena Vista
11 Final Destination 2 2,994,241 5,662,148 -47.1 1,518 4 1,972 40,320,642 New Line
12 The Hours 2,437,861 3,363,908 -27.5 1,010 9 2,414 30,041,361 Paramount
13 Kangaroo Jack 1,988,368 3,953,199 -49.7 1,742 6 1,141 61,901,888 Warner Bros.
14 The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers 1,925,167 3,072,238 -37.3 925 10 2,081 328,156,417 New Line
15 Deliver Us From Eva 1,753,453 4,011,722 -56.3 742 3 2,363 14,696,897 Focus
16 About Schmidt 1,700,614 3,090,246 -45.0 905 11 1,879 55,481,339 New Line
17 The Pianist 1,158,160 1,455,487 -20.4 509 9 2,275 12,850,463 Focus
18 The Quiet American 1,067,319 1,237,352 -13.7 186 14 5,738 4,323,701 Miramax
19 Catch Me If You Can 829,759 2,264,609 -63.4 598 9 1,388 161,066,160 DreamWorks
20 Biker Boyz 822,818 2,241,166 -63.3 595 4 1,383 20,502,907 DreamWorks
Top 5 $ 64,086,813 $ 94,210,642 -32.0
Top 10 89,682,749 117,634,618 -23.8
Top 20 106,360,509 136,820,022 -22.3
Top 10 vs. 2002 106,360,509 102,296,397 4.0

Last Updated : February 24, 2003 at 11:30PM EST