Weekend Box Office (March 14 - 16, 2003)

THIS WEEKEND Comedy was queen as Bringing Down the House continued its reign as the number one film at the North American box office for the second straight weekend. New releases that couldn't displace it included the secret agent adventure Agent Cody Banks, the crime thriller The Hunted, and the horror flick Willard which all debuted to mixed results. Meanwhile, the hit comedies Old School and How to Lose A Guy in 10 Days still showed strong legs as ticketbuyers flocked to funny films looking for a laugh.

Steve Martin and Queen Latifah spent another week at the top with their hit Bringing Down the House which declined a mere 29% to $22.1M according to final studio figures. The stellar sophomore frame helped boost the ten-day gross for the Buena Vista release to a terrific $61.3M. House is already showing signs of following the path of another odd couple blockbuster comedy - Meet the Parents. The Robert De Niro-Ben Stiller smash opened in the fall of 2000 to $28.6M and then slid just 26% to $21.2M in its second weekend for a ten-day tally of $58.8M. Parents went on to gross $166.2M.

Saving the world in second place was MGM's spy kid flick Agent Cody Banks with $14.1M in its opening weekend. The PG-rated adventure film opened in a March record 3,369 theaters and averaged a decent, but not stellar, $4,175. Frankie Muniz starred as the title character in Banks which debuted far below the level of Spy Kids (another stunt-filled kid adventure opening in March with over 3,000 theaters) which bowed to $26.5M this month two years ago. Moviegoers polled by CinemaScore.com gave Agent Cody Banks the best grade among this weekend's new releases with an A-.

Close behind the CIA was the FBI in Paramount's new action thriller The Hunted which bowed in third place with $13.5M. Opening in 2,516 locations, the R-rated pic averaged a solid $5,359 but earned a disappointing C grade from CinemaScore.com. The Hunted stars Tommy Lee Jones as an FBI agent out to capture a killer played by Benicio Del Toro.

In its second mission, the Bruce Willis military actioner Tears of the Sun retreated a troubling 49% to $8.7M raising its ten-day total to $30.7M. Sony's big-budget war pic looks to find its way to $55-60M. Moviegoers flocked to Chicago during the frame before Oscar weekend and pushed its gross up 4% to $7.1M. The Miramax musical now stands at $124.8M.

The popular comedies Old School and How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days remained strong with small declines. The DreamWorks college pic dipped 27% to $6.7M for a $60.8M sum while Paramount's romance eased 30% to $4.7M for a $93.7M cume.

Horror fans were not in the mood for killer rats as the suspense remake Willard flopped in its opening weekend with $4M from 1,761 theaters. Averaging a poor $2,277 per venue, the New Line thriller earned a horrendous D- grade from CinemaScore.com

Rounding out the top ten were Fox's Daredevil and the Warner Bros. actioner Cradle 2 the Grave with grosses of $3M each. The comic book hero fell 42% and lifted its total to $96M and the martial arts film tumbled 55% putting its gross at $31.7M.

Generating the biggest opening weekend average of any film so far this year was Fox Searchlight's award-winning British comedy Bend It Like Beckham which debuted in six theaters with $161,528 for a powerful $26,921 average. Directed by Gurinder Chadha, the PG-13 film expands into the top markets by the end of the month.

Three films dropped out of the top ten. Disney's animated sequel The Jungle Book 2 dropped 41% in its fifth frame for a $2.5M session. With $43.7M in the bank, the kidpic should eventually swing to about $50M. The studio's other sequel, Shanghai Knights, fell 42% to $1.5M. The Jackie Chan-Owen Wilson film has taken in $57.2M thus far and looks to reach around $60M. Universal's Kevin Spacey drama The Life of David Gale has collected just $18.8M to date and should find itself with roughly $21M.

The top ten films grossed $86.8M which was down 26% from last year when Ice Age opened at number one with $46.3M; but up 28% from 2001 when Exit Wounds debuted on top with $18.5M.

Compared to projections, Agent Cody Banks opened well below my $22M forecast. The Hunted debuted close to my $12M prediction while Willard did not reach my $7M projection.

Take this week's NEW Reader Survey on Bringing Down the House. In last week's survey, readers were asked if Chicago would win Best Picture at the Oscars. Of 2,856 responses, 60% said No while 40% thought Yes.

For reviews of Agent Cody Banks and Bend It Like Beckham visit The Chief Report.

Be sure to check back on Thursday for a complete summary, including projections, for next weekend when DreamCatcher, View From the Top, Boat Trip, and Piglet's Big Movie all open.

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

# Title Mar 14 - 16 Mar 7 - 9 % Chg. Theaters Weeks AVG Cumulative Distributor
1 Bringing Down the House $ 22,054,934 $ 31,101,026 -29.1 2,801 2 $ 7,874 $ 61,287,160 Buena Vista
2 Agent Cody Banks 14,064,317 3,369 1 4,175 14,064,317 MGM
3 The Hunted 13,482,638 2,516 1 5,359 13,482,638 Paramount
4 Tears of the Sun 8,705,853 17,057,213 -49.0 2,973 2 2,928 30,721,673 Sony
5 Chicago 7,105,479 6,844,634 3.8 2,600 12 2,733 124,845,340 Miramax
6 Old School 6,670,577 9,190,062 -27.4 2,452 4 2,720 60,775,809 DreamWorks
7 How To Lose A Guy in 10 Days 4,685,917 6,688,675 -29.9 2,430 6 1,928 93,724,277 Paramount
8 Willard 4,010,593 1,761 1 2,277 4,010,593 New Line
9 Daredevil 3,030,687 5,214,469 -41.9 2,054 5 1,476 96,033,651 Fox
10 Cradle 2 the Grave 2,974,489 6,535,475 -54.5 2,150 3 1,383 31,688,273 Warner Bros.
11 The Jungle Book 2 2,533,740 4,258,002 -40.5 2,064 5 1,228 43,659,830 Buena Vista
12 Shanghai Knights 1,548,917 2,688,514 -42.4 1,316 6 1,177 57,240,033 Buena Vista
13 The Pianist 1,303,069 1,393,292 -6.5 574 12 2,270 18,630,180 Focus
14 The Hours 1,250,613 1,475,801 -15.3 814 12 1,536 37,294,735 Paramount
15 About Schmidt 1,093,228 1,376,030 -20.6 713 14 1,533 61,630,220 New Line
16 The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers 1,014,613 1,227,603 -17.4 612 13 1,658 333,623,857 New Line
17 The Quiet American 990,821 1,153,381 -14.1 396 17 2,502 8,700,081 Miramax
18 The Life of David Gale 901,925 2,124,235 -57.5 893 4 1,010 18,810,795 Universal
19 The Recruit 685,848 1,359,539 -49.6 640 7 1,072 51,485,299 Buena Vista
20 Gods and Generals 645,309 1,377,431 -53.2 706 4 914 12,241,468 Warner Bros.
Top 5 $ 65,413,221 $ 70,881,610 -7.7
Top 10 86,785,484 91,702,305 -5.4
Top 20 98,753,567 103,390,825 -4.5
Top 10 vs. 2002 98,753,567 130,026,055 -24.1

Last Updated : March 17, 2003 at 7:00PM EST