Fox/Regency's Daredevil heroically held off the competition and clung on top spot over the weekend with an $18.9m haul that took its running total after 10 days to $70.3m, according to studio estimates released today (Feb 23). The Marvel Comics adaptation, which stars Ben Affleck and Jennifer Garner, is set to become the first picture of 2003 to pass $100m and despite a predominantly male audience the studio said female attendance was strong.

DreamWorks' comedy Old School led the newcomers, opening in second on a promising $17.5m, while Universal's opener The Life Of David Gale was the big disappointment of the week, bowing in sixth place on $7.2m. Overall the top 12 pictures grossed $96.2m, up 14% on the same period last weekend.

Old School impressed the critics with its knockabout tale of three former college friends who set up an off-campus fraternity house. Will Ferrell, Luke Wilson and Vince Vaughn star and the picture was directed by Todd Phillips, whose credits include Road Trip. Old School averaged a decent $6,508 from 2,689 venues and should play well in the coming weeks. Exit polls revealed a 58% male audience composition, with 56% of viewers aged under 25. Down one place to third was Paramount's romantic comedy How To Lose A Guy In 10 Days, which added $11.9m for a $64.9m cumulative score in its third week. Buena Vista's The Jungle Book 2 remained in fourth on $8.6m for $25.1m in its second week, while Miramax's heavyweight Oscar contender Chicago fell two to fifth but continued to dance its way toward the magical mark, adding $8.5m for $94.4m after two months on release.

In the bottom half of the table Alan Parker's The Life Of David Gale placed sixth with a humble $3,580 per-screen average and poor reviews. Kevin Spacey stars as an anti-death penalty activist and academic who ends up on death row accused of the rape and murder of a colleague. Kate Winslet plays the ambitious reporter who races to clear his name before the execution. Laura Linney and Gabriel Mann co-star. Buena Vista's Shanghai Knights slipped two to seventh on $6.4m for $44.4m in its third week. Opening in eighth was Warner Bros' civil war drama Gods And Generals, Ronald F Maxwell's prequel to Gettysburg, which he directed in 1993. The story charts the early years of the war and stars Robert Duvall, Jeff Daniels and Stephen Lang. It garnered dire reviews and averaged $3,115 from 1,533 theatres. Opening in ninth was MGM/UA's police thriller Dark Blue on $3.8m, which divided the critics and averaged a paltry $1,723 from 2,176 sites. Set in Los Angeles against the backdrop of the Rodney King police brutality trial, Kurt Russell stars as a corrupt cop investigating a quadruple homicide. Brendan Gleeson and Scott Speedman co-star. Buena Vista's CIA thriller The Recruit is starting to flag and fell sixth to tenth on $3.5m for $44.4m in its fourth week.

Next week's openers include Warner Bros' action-thriller Cradle 2 The Grave, which stars Jet Li and rapper-actor DMX, and Sony Pictures Classics' Spider, the acclaimed psychological drama from David Cronenberg.

Estimated Top Ten US February 21-23, 2003

Film (Distributor)/International distribution/Estimated weekend gross/Estimated total to date

1 (1) Daredevil (Fox) Fox International/Regency $18.93m $70.3m

2 (-) Old School (DreamWorks) UIP $17.5m --

3 (2) How To Lose A Guy In 10 Days (Paramount) UIP $11.88m $64.91m

4 (4) The Jungle Book 2 (Buena Vista) BVI $8.6m $25.1m

5 (3) Chicago (Miramax) Miramax International $8.5m $94.35m

6 (-) The Life Of David Gale (Universal) UIP $7.17m --

7 (5) Shanghai Knights (Buena Vista) BVI/Spyglass $6.4m $44.4m

8 (-) Gods And Generals (Warner Bros) Warner Bros $4.78m -

9 (-) Dark Blue (MGM/UA) $3.75m --

10 (6) The Recruit (Buena Vista) BVI/Spyglass $3.5m $44.4m