Universal Pictures' Erin Brockovich starring Julia Roberts continued to reign atop the US box office this past weekend with a third weekend gross of $14.2m, a slight 23% drop from the previous weekend. Its 17-day total now stands at $76.2m.

The critically acclaimed movie, which will open in many key European territories next weekend through co-financier Columbia TriStar, beat off competition from three newcomers - DreamWorks SKG's costly animated picture The Road To El Dorado, Universal's own youth-oriented thriller The Skulls and Buena Vista's much-lauded comedy High Fidelity starring John Cusack.

The Road To El Dorado, which features the voices of Kevin Kline and Kenneth Branagh as two Spanish stowaways who discover the fabled city of gold in the 16th century, was considered mediocre by most critics. Its $12.5m opening weekend gross is a disappointment considering the lavish marketing and merchandising campaign and the concurrent hype surrounding Elton John's soundtrack album.

The Skulls, on the other hand, is a triumph. Independently financed by Newmarket Capital Group, sold internationally by Summit Entertainment and only subsequently picked up for domestic by Universal Pictures, the movie stars Joshua Jackson (of TV's Dawson's Creek) as a college student who is inducted into a dangerous elite secret society called the Skulls. It was produced by Neal Moritz, the producer behind a slew of teen hits including I Know What You Did Last Summer, Cruel Intentions and Urban Legend.

High Fidelity, a Working Title Films production for Touchstone Pictures and The Walt Disney Co, was the best reviewed picture of the week and scored the highest screen average in the top ten. Opening on 1,180 screens, the romantic comedy grossed $6.4m for an average of $5,414 per screen. High Fidelity, an adaptation of Nick Hornby's hit British novel, stars and was co-written and co-produced by John Cusack. Stephen Frears directed.

Another semi-limited opener, New Line Cinema's Price Of Glory, a boxing drama starring Jimmy Smits and Jon Seda, opened with $1.5m from 802 screens.

Other notable performers included multiple Oscar winners American Beauty which went up 44% to take $5.8m off 1,990 screens (up 328 from last weekend) and The Cider House Rules, which grossed $2.2m to bring its total to $53.1m.


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

1 (1) Erin Brockovich (Universal) Columbia TriStar $14.2m $76.2m
2 (-) The Road To El Dorado (DreamWorks) UIP $12.5m --
3 (-) The Skulls (Universal) Summit Ent $11.4m --
4 (2) Romeo Must Die (Warner) Warner $9.7m
5 (-) High Fidelity (Buena Vista) BVI $6.4m --
6 (7) American Beauty (DreamWorks) UIP $5.8m $117m
7 (3) Final Destination (New Line) New Line International $5.2m $28.2m
8 (4) Mission To Mars (Buena Vista) BVI/Spyglass $3.4m $54.5m
9 tied (5) Here On Earth (20th Century Fox) Fox International $2.4m $8.1m
9 tied (6) Whatever It Takes (Columbia) Columbia TriStar/Phoenix $2.4m $7.5m