Despite a strong assault by 20th Century Fox of patriotic war actioner Behind Enemy Lines (pictured), Warner Bros held on to the top spot for the third consecutive weekend with its blockbuster Harry Potter & The Sorcerer's Stone which took an estimated $24.1m over the three days.
Harry Potter's 17-day total now stands at $220.1m (the film crossed the $200m barrier last Friday, making it the second fastest film to do so behind only Star Wars: Episode 1 - The Phantom Menace); Buena Vista's Monsters Inc also crossed the $200m this weekend, its $9.4m haul bringing its total to $204.3m. A record five films have now crossed that milestone this year - Shrek, The Mummy Returns and Rush Hour 2 were the others.
Behind Enemy Lines starring Gene Hackman and Owen Wilson and directed by John Moore was originally scheduled to open in January but Fox moved it to ride the wave of patriotic fervour still engulfing the US. Its powerful opening of $19.2m validated the strategy and also made up in part for the disappointing performance of Martin Lawrence comedy Black Knight which took in just $5.7m in its second weekend, down 49% from its opening.
Miramax Films' confidence in French megahit Amelie also paid off handsomely this weekend. Expanding to 218 sites, Jean-Pierre Jeunet's romantic fantasy took $1.4m to bring its total to $9.8m. Now that it is already one of the biggest foreign language movies of all time in the US, the question is how far it can go.
Other openers included Warner Bros' The Affair Of The Necklace produced by Alcon Entertainment and sold in international territories by Summit Entertainment, which grossed $0.14m on 18 sites for a so-so average of $7,555. The poorly reviewed period romp stars Hilary Swank, Jonathan Pryce, Simon Baker and Christopher Walken. Also opening very quietly was Dimension's Texas Rangers - the long-delayed western with James Van Der Beek and Dylan McDermott which the studio quietly slipped into its schedule recently. At just 402 theatres, it took a feeble $0.3m for an average per site of $746.
It was a quiet weekend at the box office, as is always the case immediately after the Thanksgiving holiday, but was still up 3% from the same weekend last year when Dr Seuss' How The Grinch Stole Christmas was topping the charts.
Next weekend could by Harry Potter's last at the top as Warner opens the next in its enviable end-of-year lineup, Steven Soderbergh's eagerly awaited caper movie Ocean's Eleven starring George Clooney, Brad Pitt and Julia Roberts.
ESTIMATED TOP TEN US NOV 30-DEC 2
Film (Distributor) International distribution Estimated weekend gross Estimated total to date
1 (1) Harry Potter & The Sorcerer's Stone (Universal) UIP $24.1m $220.1m
2 (-) Behind Enemy Lines (20th Century Fox) Fox International $19.2m --
3 (3) Spy Game (Universal) Beacon Pictures $11.2m $46.9m
4 (2) Monsters Inc (Buena Vista) BVI $9.4m $204.3m
5 (4) Black Knight (20th Century Fox) Fox International $5.7m $23m
6 (5) Shallow Hal (20th Century Fox) Fox International $4.7m $61.2m
7 (6) Out Cold (Buena Vista) Spyglass/BVI $2.9m $10.5m
8 (7) Domestic Disturbance (Paramount) Lakeshore/UIP $1.9m $42.4m
9 (11) Amelie (Miramax) UGC International $1.4m $9.8m
10 (8) Heist (Warner Bros) Franchise Pictures $1.2m $22m