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'Kill Bill' opens at top spot
Arthur J Pais | October 13, 2003 14:10 IST
Quentin Tarantino's first film in six years, Kill Bill Volume 1, slew the opposition and soared to the top position last weekend.
The movie, which revolves around a woman called The Bride (Uma Thurman) who wakes up from a coma and sets out to avenge the people who nearly killed her and led to her unborn baby's death, earned about $21.6 million.
If there is no huge attrition in the next two weeks, Kill Bill could earn a healthy $85 million.
Tarantino and distributor Miramax chose to chop Kill Bill, which has a three-hour running time, into two parts. The second part will be released in February 2004. According to the exit polls conducted by Miramax, 90 per cent of the audience said they would see the second film. Though earlier reports claimed the two films cost $100 million, Miramax says they were made for about $70 million.
Hollywood observers had not expected a blockbuster debut for the film because of its graphic violence.
While Kill Bill exceeded Hollywood's expectations, there were two other surprises over the weekend: the well-reviewed Intolerable Cruelty, a witty battle of the sexes starring George Clooney and Catherine Zeta-Jones, opened to a ho-hum $13 million at third place, earning a few thousand dollars more than MGM's low-budget kid flick, Good Boy! Since these are estimates, there are chances of Good Boy! moving to the third spot. The actual numbers, which are usually 2 or 3 per cent different from the estimates, are due on October 13.
Directed by Joel Coen and scripted by several writers, including his brother Ethan, Intolerable Cruelty looked like the first Coen film to have wide appeal. Though it opened to bigger numbers than their previous films, especially Fargo, it also cost substantially more.
Richard Linklater's comedy School Of Rock danced to a steady beat at second position. Though it was dethroned from the top, it still earned a strong $15 million, taking its gross to $39 million.
While School Of Rock appealed largely to young adults, Good Boy! played well to an even younger audience. Mixing humour and sentimentality, this is the story of an invasion of earth planned for thousands of years on the distant planet Sirius. Now, canine spies are sent to gather information to prepare for the attack.
With none of their agents reporting back, the Sirius military sends their best dog Canid (voiced by Matthew Broderick) to find out what is going on. Soon after landing, Canid finds himself befriended by a boy Owen Baker (Liam Aiken), who runs a neighbourhood dog-walking service. With the 'Great Dane' (voiced by Vanessa Redgrave) on her way to inspect the troops, it is up to Canid 3942 (whom Owen renames Hubble) and Owen to snap the dogs into shape, so that they are not sent Sirius for rehabilitation.
Many critics were not impressed with Good Boy!, calling it a sort of ET with a talking dog standing in for Steven Spielberg's homesick space alien. Among the handful of major publications that liked the film was Boston Globe. 'The movie even threatens to become philosophical with its sci-fi assertion that canines run the universe and people just don't know. But all it wants is to reduce you to mush, which I'm happy to say, it does,' wrote its critic Wesley Morris.
The film can be 'crass (more than one dog is a little gassy),' Morris continued. 'But it's also quietly progressive: Wilson, the boxer, belongs to the gay couple down the street. And in its final scene, the film is touchingly firm about levelling with children, drawing a careful, crucial line between fantasy and reality, without patronising or haranguing them.'
The fifth place in the Top Ten list goes to Out Of Time, which is also distributed by MGM/United Artist. The cop thriller starring Denzel Washington has lost nearly 50 per cent of its box-office clout and is headed for an also-ran status.
The third new film of the week, House Of The Dead, lived up to its name, grossing about $5.3 million at sixth position. The film is about a group of young people who charter a boat from an apprehensive sea captain and set out for the weekend. When they reach the shore, they find that local legends surrounding the 'Isle del Morte' are terrifyingly real. The only place that offers them any hope of a sanctuary is the dilapidated, foreboding structure called House of the Dead. But danger seems pervasive there too.
The Sofia Coppola triumph, Lost In Translation, was the tenth top grosser of the week. Its expansion last week did not produce huge returns, so it remains an arthouse hit in major cities alone. With $18 million grossed in five weeks, the $5 million low-budget film is looking for a $25 million final gross and may become one of the more profitable films of the year.
In a limited release, Clint Eastwood's riveting murder mystery, Mystic River, which expertly looks at the wages of sin, had an exceptional debut, taking in $591,390 in 13 theatres for a great $45,492 average. The Warner Bros movie, which could earn top Oscar nominations, stars Sean Penn, Tim Robbins and Kevin Bacon as three childhood friends whose adult lives are fraught with tragic possibilities. It is based on an international bestseller by Dennis Lehane. But its real test will come when it expands to more theatres this week.
The box office this week:
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