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Rediff.com  » Movies » Hitchhiker's Guide beats xXx2

Hitchhiker's Guide beats xXx2

May 02, 2005 20:18 IST

The Hitchhiker's Guide To The GalaxyScience fiction comedy The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy flew to the top of the box-office chart in North America over the weekend, but while its $21.7 million gross was decent, it was far from being heavenly.

On the other hand, the action-packed xXx: State Of The Union stunned the industry with a low $13.7 million gross.

For, here was a sequel to an enormously successful film -- xXx, starring Vin Diesel which opened to a $44.5 million weekend nearly three years ago -- and it was expected to light up fireworks.

But the new film, which featured rapper Ice Cube in his first major action-packed role, just could not open with a bang. In fact, it opened behind The Interpreter, which slipped by an acceptable 38 percent in its second weekend.

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Showing at some 3,480 movie theatres in North America, xXx2 was the week's widest release. Hitchhiker's Guide opened at 3,133 theatres.

The weekend gross of the sequel was a few million below the first day's gross for the previous film. With such a disappointing gross, it looks like the series is dead unless Vin Diesel, whose latest film The Pacifier is headed for a bountiful $115 million gross in North America, is persuaded to return with a hefty paycheck.

Rapper Ice Cube has led the cast of such hits as Are We There Yet? and was also the force behind the R-rated Friday movies and the Barbershop comedies. But this time his arrival in the PG-rated film was not really welcome.

Many Hollywood insiders and trade observers had expected the new xXx to easily overcome hostile reviews and seize $22-$25 million in three days. To make things worse for producer Sony is the news that the $90 million film, filled with explosive action scenes (some of which were truly spectacular) and plunging necklines, is not doing any better abroad.

xXx: State Of The UnionMost of the reviews from major publications slammed the film.

'How bad does it get? How far past the basement can one elevator go?' asked the San Francisco Chronicle. Chicago Tribune declared: 'Ice Cube glowers his way through the movie, which is understandable considering the lines he has to say.'

But The New York Times and Boston Globe were not totally unkind to the movie and Ice Cube.

According to the Times, 'While he gives it his all, Ice Cube never seems like the right man for the job in State of the Union...'

And the Globe noted: 'There are really only two kinds of big-budget action movies: stupid, and good and stupid. Surprisingly, xXx: State of the Union is good and stupid...'

Some observers felt that Sony did not properly exploit Ice Cube's image in its posters.

On the surface, the film looks like a loser but we can't be sure of that right now. For, in the final reckoning, the DVD and other ancillary sales will determine its fate.   

The British import Hitchhiker's Guide, based on the international bestseller by Douglas Adams, follows the adventures of an ordinary man (Martin Freeman) who hitches a ride with aliens moments before earth is destroyed. Though the film did not have a star of Ice Cube's stature, it did have a bunch of actors -- Martin, Mos Def, Sam Rockwell and John Malkovich -- who helped to make the film an interesting adventure. 

The Amityville HorrorIn fourth place on the top 10 chart was the hit horror film The Amityville Horror with $8.1 million in its third week, while the adventure Sahara rounded out the top five with $6 million in its fourth week.

Among smaller films that made impressive gains over the weekend was Enron: The Smartest Guys In The Room. The critically acclaimed film expanded from three to 49 theatres, and grossed over $400,000 in its second weekend. It rose from 39 to the 15th position, and with more expansions scheduled, it could soon gross $1 million over the weekend.

The box-office is expected to get a summer boost on May 6, with the arrival of the Ridley Scott directed action drama Kingdom of Heaven, set in the turbulent era of the crusades. The film, costing over $100 million, stars Orlando Bloom with a huge supporting cast of veterans, including Liam Neeson and Jeremy Irons.

Box-office estimates for North America, April 29- May 1

Rank Film Weekend gross Total gross Number of weeks
1 The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy $21.7 million $21.7m New
2 The Interpreter

$14.2 million (down 38%) 

$43.5m 2
3 xXx: State Of The Union $13.7 million $13.7m New
4 The Amityville Horror $8.1 million (down 41%) $55m 3
5 Sahara $6 million (down 33.5%) $57m 4
6 A Lot Like Love $5.2 million (down 31%) $14.6m
7 Kung Fu Hustle $3.8 million (down 43.7%) $13.2m
8 Fever Pitch $3.6 million (down 32%) $36.5m
9 Robots $2.6 million (down 22.5 %) $124m 8
10 Guess Who $2.2 million (down 37%) $65m
Arthur J Pais