Paramount's romantic comedy How To Lose A Guy In 10 Days showed how to win the audience's heartsin three with a terrific table-topping $24.1m bow over the weekend, accordingto studio estimates. Matthew McConaughey plays a commitment-phobe who bets hisfriends he can date a woman for 10 days or lose his prize car. Kate Hudson isthe magazine writer he dates with an agenda of her own. Despite awful reviewsit was the third best opening for a February release, bettered only by Hannibal ($58m in 2001) and Scream 3 ($34.7m in 2000). Directed by DonaldPetrie, the picture averaged a handsome $8,244 from 2,923 venues.

Opening in second on $19.8m was Spyglass/Buena Vista's comedysequel Shanghai Knights,which reunites Jackie Chan and Owen Wilson as high-kicking partners who travelto Victorian London to avenge the murder of Chan's father. It receivedexcellent reviews and averaged $7,181 from 2,753 sites. Shanghai Knights co-stars Aiden Gillen and Fann Wong, wasdirected by David Dibkin. Sashaying up two places from third was Miramax'sheavyweight Oscar candidate Chicago, which grossed $10.7m for a $63.7m running total in its seventhweek. The star-laden Broadway adaptation expanded into 1,841 theatres. Spyglass/BuenaVista's spy thriller The Recruit fell three to fourth on $9.5m for a $30.1m cumulative score after10 days, while New Line's Final Destination 2 dropped three to fifth on $8.7m for$28.1m after the same amount of time.

Universal's specialty banner Focus Features' Deliver Us FromEva was the only otherdebutant to make it into the top 10, bowing in sixth place on $7.1m. Theromantic comedy stars LL Cool J and Gabrielle Union and centres on an attemptby a group of friends to pay a man to seduce their friend's meddling sister inan attempt to get her out of their hair. It got a mixed reception from thecritics and averaged $6,215 from 1,139 sites. The picture was directed by GaryHardwick. Elsewhere, DreamWorks' action picture Biker Boyz fell five to eighth on $4m for $15.5m inits second week and the table was rounded out by New Line's The Lord Of TheRings: The Two Towers,which fell three to tenth on $3.4m for $320.7m in its eighth week. Overall thetop 12 pictures grossed $103.1m, up 22% on the same period last year. Nextweek's releases for President's Day weekend include Fox's Daredevil, starring Ben Affleck and JenniferGarner; and Buena Vista's The Jungle Book 2, and the Oscar nominations announcementon Tuesday will surely have further impact on the box office.

Estimated Top Ten US January 7-February 9, 2003

Film (Distributor)/International distribution/Estimated weekendgross/Estimated total to date

1 (-) How To Lose A Guy In 10 Days (Paramount) UIP $24.1m

2 (-) Shanghai Knights (Buena Vista) Spyglass/BVI $19.77m

3 (5) Chicago (Miramax) Miramax International $10.72m $63.74m

4 (1) The Recruit (Buena Vista) Spyglass/BVI $9.5m $30.1m

5 (2) Final Destination 2 (New Line) New Line International $8.65m $28.14

6 (-) Deliver Us From Eva (Focus Features) Focus Features $7.08m

7 (4) Kangaroo Jack (Warner Bros) Warner Bros $5.89m $52.82m

8 (3) Biker Boyz (DreamWorks) $4m $15.5m

9 (5) Darkness Falls (Columbia) Columbia TriStar/Revolution $3.8m $26.79m

10 (7) TheLord Of The Rings: The Two Towers (New Line) New Line International $3.38m $320.72m