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Ice Cube storms box-office

January 24, 2005 18:29 IST

Are We There Yet?Ethan Hawke and Laurence Fishburne could not make impressive inroads into box-office territory with Assault on Precinct 13. The hostage drama, which got strong reviews from some major critics, opened at sixth place, with a pale $7 million.

On the other hand, the chart was led by another newcomer, Are We There Yet?, proving the formidable draw of its star, rapper Ice Cube. The reviews were rather hostile, but audiences simply didn't care. The movie, made for just about $30 million, opened with a respectable $18.5 million over the weekend.

Ice Cube, the star of Friday and the Barbershop series, plays a suitor in the new film offering to bring a young divorcee's children from Washington, DC, to New York for the holidays, when her work keeps her in the city. Little does he know that the kids dislike their mother's dates.

'Feels more like Is It Over Yet?' complained a reviewer in Atlanta Journal-Constitution. In Chicago Sun Times, Roger Ebert found the film 'shrill.' The Boston Globe warned: 'This gnarly and illogical little sitcom is bound to make any adult reconsider that next outing with the kids.'

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Only Chicago Tribune's Michael Wilmington, who didn't care much for the film, felt the audiences' pulse correctly.

'Another bright, shtick-laden gagfest,' he wrote. 'But it's lively and watchable and a nice showcase for a pleasant cast.'

The gross for Are We… is more impressive coming in the face of a snowstorm that curtailed activity on Saturday night and Sunday in the Midwest and the eastern states. Also, the film is playing in 2,700 theatres, while many other films on the top list are playing in significantly more venues. The Fockers, for instance, is playing in 3,446 theatres.

Last week's champ, the Samuel L Jackson starring inspirational basketball drama Coach Carter, slipped to second position, followed by the comedy Meet The Fockers, which came down by a hefty 47 percent from the previous week. Yet it grossed an impressive $10 million and by Thursday, it would gross $250 million.

The critically acclaimed comedy-drama about corporation culture, In Good Company, starring Dennis Quaid, is shaping into a medium sized hit. It was the fourth highest grossing film of the week, followed by the disappointing kid comedy Racing Stripes.

Assault On Precinct 13Though Assault on Precinct 13 opened to disappointing numbers, it may still make profit when DVD sales and international receipts kick in. The movie cost about $22 million, another plus factor.

Ethan Hawke stars in the R-rated film as a cop who, during a snowy New Year's Eve, leads a crew of police officers and prisoners to fight a gang that wants to free a mobster at Precinct 13, the soon-to-close police station.

'The premise may be outlandish, the action unrealistic and sometimes silly and the characters formulaic,' wrote Michael Wilmington in Chicago Tribune. 'But the movie rips and roars.'

And in New York Post, Lou Lumenick wrote: 'For those with a high tolerance for violence, Assault on Precinct 13 is a thriller that actually thrills.'

'The crackling, pulpy film,' he continued 'is a happy exception to the rule that most remakes — Alfie and The Stepford Wives spring to mind — aren't worth the celluloid they're printed on.'

But The New York Times slammed the film, calling it bloody, incoherent and lacking a viewpoint.

The film, based on an unexpected, medium sized 1976 hit by John Carpenter, is directed by Jean-Francois Richet, a French filmmaker.

Several films added hundreds of theatres on Friday for mixed results. The Phantom Of The Opera, the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical, expanded to 1,511 theatres with the addition of 604, and saw its gross go up by a modest 36 percent. The movie, which has grossed an okay $33 million, is headed for a $55-$60 million gross in North America.

The AviatorThe Aviator, which has gained more Oscar nomination momentum than any other big budget film in the past month, added 305 theatres (total 2,261) and limited its slide from the previous week to 4 percent. With a $58 million gross, the Martin Scorsese film made for $110 million will have to depend on strong Oscar nominations (and a couple of wins) to break even. It has been declared the best film of the year by the Producers Guild, and in London, it secured the most BAFTA  nominations.

Though playing outside the top 10, Sideways, a hot contender for Oscar nominations, is growing in strength. The $16 million comedy with a philosophical bend is fast approaching the break-even point having grossed $32 million. Showing in about 700 theatres, it earned an impressive $2.8 million over the weekend at the 11th position on the chart. Even without a single Oscar nomination, it could wind up with a profitable $40 million in North America alone. If it gets a raft of strong Oscar nominations, it could double its theatre count.

Bolstered by the Golden Globe win, Sideways expanded from 333 to 699 theaters and gained an impressive 32 percent over the previous weekend.

It was followed by another heavy header for the nominations, the riveting Clint Eastwood drama Million Dollar Baby. But the film, not an easy venture to sell, given its stark look and downbeat second half, gained by about 2 percent as it expanded from 25 theatres to 147. In limited release over the month, the $30 million boxing-themed movie that asks tough questions about life and death has won an encouraging $8 million. The film fetched Eastwood a Golden Globe for direction. If it secures a bagful of Oscar nominations, expect it to expand to at least 1,000 theaters the coming weekend. But the film, which grossed a decent $2 million in Great Britain in its first outing abroad last week, seems to be capable of turning a profit even without an Oscar.

Box office estimates for North America, January 21-23

Rank Film Weekend gross Total gross Number of weeks
1 Are We There Yet? $18.5 million $18.5m 3 days
2 Coach Carter

$11 million (down 54%) 

3 Meet The Fockers $10.2 million (down 47%) $247m 5
4 In Good Company $8.5 million (down 40%) $28m 4
5 Racing Stripes $7.2 million (down 49%) $27m 2
6 Assault On Precinct 13 $7 million $8.5m 5 days 
7 White Noise $5.2 million (down 58%) $49m
8 The Phantom Of The Opera $5.1 million (up 36%) $33m
9 The Aviator $4.8 million (down 4%) $58m 6
10 Elektra $3.8 million (down 70%) $20m
Arthur J Pais