December 23, 2002 
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Elijah Wood
Two Towers reigns at USBO
The second film in the Lord Of The Rings trilogy looks to overtake its predecessor

Arthur J Pais

With a mighty $101.5 million grossed in five days in North America and spectacular numbers from abroad, The Two Towers, the second film in the Lord Of The Rings trilogy is promising a long run and could even top the first film in the series.

Despite glowing reviews and multiple Oscar nominations, the first movie in the Lord Of The Rings trilogy could not reach the $900 million mark last year, while the Harry Potter movie, which also received excellent reviews, scaled $930 million worldwide.

The second Harry Potter movie, which has already grossed about $600 million worldwide, is expected to end its highly profitable run with about $800 million. If The Two Towers does not fall in the coming weeks, it stands an excellent chance of topping the $860 million grossed by its predecessor.

While there was plenty to cheer in The Two Towers camp, which is distributed by New Line (a division of Time Warner), there is huge concern if Martin Scorsese's Gangs Of New York will be profitable. The $100 million-plus film, which has received excellent reviews, grossed about $9 million on about 1,500 screens, certainly a disappointing number.

But distributor Miramax is standing solidly behind the film, adding at least 500 screens on Christmas Day, hoping that word of mouth and critics' kudos will make the film a winner. The Two Towers, on the other hand, is on more than 5,000 screens. It was made for about $90 million.

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There was a big distance between the three-day weekend gross for The Two Towers ($61 million) and the next movie on the top 10 box-office champions list. The Sandra Bullock-Hugh Grant romantic comedy Two Weeks Notice grabbed $14.4 million. Not a terrific number, but the movie could still turn out to be a decent earner, grossing about $75 million. The executives at Warner Bros must have been relieved by its showing because the film closely follows Analyze That, the Robert De Niro-Billy Crystal comedy that is expected to end its run with just about $35 million.

Other comedies are doing fairly well. Last weekend's top movie, Jennifer Lopez's Maid In Manhattan, was third on the list with about $11 million and an encouraging $35 gross. There is a lot of speculation if this could become the first $100 million movie for Lopez. A lot depends on how the film will withstand fierce competition in the next two weeks.

One of the surprise hits of the season, Drumline, continues to do encouraging business, mostly from teenagers. It was No. 5 with $7.6 million ($22 million gross), followed by the newcomer The Wild Thornberrys Movie, the kiddie film which grossed a disappointing $6.1 million.

Star Trek - Nemesis, which opened with a so-so $18 million, took an awful beating. With just about $4.4 million taken in its second weekend and about $22 million in the till, the movie may end up with just about $40 million. Typically a Star Trek movie would gross $80 million.


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