Four new studioopeners and the wide release of I Am Sam couldn't dislodge Columbia/Revolution's epic BlackHawk Down from thenumber one position, signalling it as the first smash of the new year and nodoubt its first $100m grosser. The Ridley Scott-directed movie took anestimated $18.2m at 3,101 theatres to bring its total to $60.1m after just twoweeks wide.

SimilarlyDisney's family movie Snow Dogs starring Cuba Gooding Jr held on to the second spot with anestimated $13.6m, although it was a photo finish between Snow Dogs and newcomer A Walk To Remember, which took an estimated $13.57m. Finalfigures will be known tomorrow.

All thenewcomers performed well, bringing the combined box office up a massive 56%from the same weekend last year. A Walk To Remember is the first film from the newlyreconfigured Pandora, owned by Gaylord Entertainment and based on the WarnerBros lot. The movie, adapted from the bestseller by Nicholas Sparks (MessageIn A Bottle) is astarring vehicle for pop princess Mandy Moore who plays the daughter of aminister who falls for the son of a wealthy family in a small town in the1950s. Directed by Adam Shankman, whose first film The Wedding Planner opened in January last year, the movieco-stars Shane West, Peter Coyote and Daryl Hannah. Warner has domestic rightson the picture and Pandora has sold it internationally.

Performing wellat number four was The Mothman Prophecies, a supernatural thriller starring Richard Gere, whichopened with $11.8m. Produced by Lakeshore Entertainment and distributed inNorth America not by Lakeshore's studio partner Paramount Pictures but bySony's mid-budget releasing arm Screen Gems, the film is directed by MarkPellington and co-stars Will Patton, Laura Linney and Debra Messing. Reviewswere mixed-to-poor for the picture, but the effective trailer and marketingcampaign paid dividends.

A BeautifulMind took $11.7m for thefifth slot, losing none of its audience from last weekend after its GoldenGlobes win. It should hit the $100m mark sometime during the week.

TouchstonePictures and Spyglass Entertainment's The Count Of Monte Cristo, came in at six with $11.6m. Distributedby Buena Vista in North America and much of the world, the latest retelling ofthe Alexandre Dumas classic is directed by Kevin Reynolds (Waterworld, RobinHood: Prince Of Thieves)and has received generally favourable reviews calling it a spirited adaptation.Shot in Malta and Ireland, the film stars Jim Caviezel, Guy Pearce, James Frainand Richard Harris.

Despite a tepidcritical reception, I Am Sam had the highest screen average of any film in the top ten.Grossing $8.3m at 1,268 sites, the sentimental drama scored $6,565, some $700 per-sitehigher than Black Hawk Down. Directed by Jessie Nelson and starring Sean Penn as a mentallyretarded man trying to retain custody of his daughter, I Am Sam was at one time considered a major Oscarcontender but it failed to make the grade once it opened on limited release atthe end of the year. It co-stars Michelle Pfeiffer, Mary Steenburgen and DianneWeist.

The only othernew entry was Steve Oedekerk's kung fu spoof Kung Pow! Enter The Fist