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Look, who's back in business?

Arthur J Pais | February 09, 2004 15:22 IST

A still from MonsterThe grim, depressing, yet fascinating, Monster had a miraculous leap over the weekend in North America. Based on key incidents in the life of a Florida serial killer, the film bounced from 11th position last week to ninth on the box-office chart.

Some estimates even put the film at eighth position, ahead of Mystic River. Even if the positions for both films are not reversed when the actual box-office figures are available later in the week, Monster is having a powerful run.

The film, which fetched a Best Actress Oscar nomination for Charlize Theron, earned half a million dollars less than the six Oscar nominee Mystic River, according to boxofficeguru.com.

Amazingly, Monster, which was in just about 892 theatres, having added over 200 theatres over the weekend. The week's highest grossing film Barbershop 2: Back In Business is in more than 2,700 theatres.

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Monster, which was made for about $10 million and was released in a few cities seven weeks ago, is distributed by Newmarket, a boutique-sized distributor. It is the only film among the top 10 that has been released by a small company.

A sequel to last year's surprise hit, Barbershop 2 grossed a strong $25 million in three days. Critics were divided over the film. Some wrote the comedy was uneven and others complained there was more sentimentality than required.

According to distributor MGM, while the first Barbershop appealed mostly to African Americans, the audience for the new film included over 20 per cent non-blacks. Attribute this to the wide success of Barbershop in video and DVD release.

In the new film, Calvin's Barbershop, a street corner phenomenon in Chicago, is facing a lot of problems. Gina (Queen Latifah), a stylist at the beauty shop next door, is now trying to cut in on his business. Calvin (Ice Cube) also has to struggle to keep his father's shop and traditions alive against urban developers who have no respect for mom & pop establishments. But Calvin is convinced that though the world changes, some things never have to go out of style.

While in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Eleanor Ringel Gillespie found the film to be 'A sequel with all the humour, compassion, raunch and camaraderie of its predecessor,' Chicago Tribune differed. Its critic Michael Wilmington wrote: 'This time around, the razors are a little duller, the clicks not as slick, the patter not as snappy.' In Hollywood Reporter, Michael Rechtshaffen gave the film a near rave: 'The second cut goes a little deeper in this sequel to the feel-good ensemble comedy.'

A still from Barbershop 2: Back in BusinessThe comedy hit was followed by the feel-good sports film Miracle that focused on the historic American win over the Russians in the 1980 Olympics. The movie is notable for a muscular performance by Kurt Russell as a mysterious, eccentric and at times nasty coach.

The film is not just about the triumph of the Americans. For, it is also the story of Herb Brooks (Russell), who led the US hockey team to victory over the Soviets despite overwhelming odds.

'Although playing a hockey coach might seem like a slap shot for an actor, Russell does real acting here,' wrote Roger Ebert in Chicago Sun-Times. On the other hand, in the rival Chicago Tribune, Mark Caro thought, 'In the end, what we have is an effective exercise in flag-waving nostalgia, which may feel good but doesn't leave you with much.' In The New York Times, Elvis Mitchell thought that 'Mr. Russell's cagey and remote performance gives Miracle its few breezes of fresh air.'

Last week's surprise hit You Got Served tumbled to the third position losing over 60 percent of the box-office but even then the low budget film was in good shape, with a $7.7 million weekend gross and $26 million total in 10 days

The comedy Along Came Polly is still amusing millions. At fourth position, its cume has reached a strong $75 million. It was followed by the supernatural drama The Butterfly Effect, which with its $41 million gross (and still counting) has made Ashton Kutcher a bankable star.

Newcomer Catch The Kid had a losing opening. It opened at sixth position with just about $6 million. Many critics thought the film was a pale imitation of the hit Spy Kids formula.

The new film revolves around 12-year-old Maddy (Kristen Stewart) and her father (Sam Robards) who share a passion for mountain climbing. Following an accident, he faces permanent spinal paralysis unless he gets an expensive operation. Determined to raise money for the surgery, Maddy decides to recruit two of her friends to help her break into the super high-tech bank (with a vault suspended 30 feet off the floor) that her mother (Jennifer Beals) works at as security chief.

Atlanta Journal-Constitution's Melinda Ennis did not mind the film. 'Parents can catch a nap while the kids catch a dubious lesson that crime can be cool,' she wrote. Roger Ebert thought the film offered solid entertainment. But in Chicago Tribune, Ellen Fox complained that the film is 'by turns preposterous and predictable.'  In New York Post, Megan Lehmann concluded, "Spy Kids it ain't.'

A still from Cold MountainThe Oscar front-runner Return Of The King, with 
11 nominations, has still a lot of power left. This was evident in its $4.3 million gross at the seventh position on the chart. It has grossed $351 million in North America.

The Civil War romantic drama, Cold Mountain, which received 7 Oscar nominations, including two in the acting category (for Renee Zellweger in the supporting category and Jude Law in the lead), was the 10th film on the list. With a $3.2 million weekend gross and an $82 million total, the medium-size hit still has a chance of reaching the $100 million benchmark. 

The box office this week:

Rank

Film

Weekend gross

Total
gross

Number
of weeks

1

Barbershop 2: Back in Business

$25 million 

$25m

New

2

Miracle

$19.4 million

$19.4m

New

3

You Got Served

$7.7 million (less 52% from the previous weekend)

$26m

2

4

Along Came Polly

$7million (less 24% from the previous weekend) 

$75m

4

5

The Butterfly Effect

$6.7 million (less 30% from the previous weekend) 

$41.5m

3

6

Catch That Kid

$6 million

$6m

New

7

The Return of The King

$4.3 million (less 18% from the previous weekend)

$351

8

8

Mystic River

$4.28 million (less 19% from the previous weekend)

$70m

18

9

Monster

$3.5 million (plus 4% from the previous weekend)

$15.2m

7

10

Cold Mountain

$3.24 million (less 20% from the previous weekend)

$82.8m

7

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