The North American box office continued the record pace set in December with a massive four-day Martin Luther King holiday weekend, up 38% from the same weekend last year and the biggest Martin Luther King Day weekend ever.
Driving the box office was Paramount Pictures' Save The Last Dance, the latest teen hit from sister company MTV Films. Featuring Julia Stiles as a gifted ballerina who moves to a Chicago ghetto and has to integrate herself into the local school and hip-hop culture, the film grossed a phenomenal $28m over the four days (Friday to Monday). It played at 2,230 theatres for a mighty $12,556 site average.
Titanic scored the highest single-film gross for a Martin Luther King weekend with $36m in 1998.
Only one film in the top ten had a higher average - Sony Classics' Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. Ang Lee's wuxia update grossed $8.9m at 700 theatres for an average of $12,735. Still packing them in, the Chinese-language movie has now grossed $28.9m and is now on track to beat Life Is Beautiful's $57m to become the biggest grossing foreign language film ever.
Crouching Tiger's success this weekend is remarkable considering the fierce competition. Fox's Cast Away took another $20.2m in its fourth weekend to bring its total to $168.2m, while USA Films' Traffic held on very strongly to its number three placing to gross $13.1m for a total of $35.1m. Paramount's What Women Want took $12m to bring its total to $153.9m.
Additionally, two films went wide - Columbia's Finding Forrester, which took $12m, and New Line's 13 Days, which took $11.7m.
Other new openers did not fare so well. Buena Vista's comedy Double Take, starring African American comics Eddie Griffin and Orlando Jones, opened at seven with $11.5m. MGM's thriller, AntiTrust, the first film from new supplier Hyde Park Entertainment, took a meagre $6.3m at 2,433 theatres.
ESTIMATED TOP TEN US JAN 12-15
Film (Distributor)/International distribution/Estimated weekend gross/Estimated total to date
1 (-) Save The Last Dance (Paramount) UIP $28m --
2 (1) Cast Away (20th Century Fox) DreamWorks $20.2m $168.2m
3 (3) Traffic (USA Films) IEG $13.1m $35.1m
4 tied (2) What Women Want (Paramount) Icon International $12m $153.9m
4 tied (-) Finding Forrester (Columbia) Columbia TriStar $12m $21.4m
6 (-) Thirteen Days (New Line) Beacon Pictures $11.7m $12.3m
7 tied (-) Double Take (Buena Vista) BVI $11.5m --
7 tied (4) Miss Congeniality (Warner Bros) Warner Bros $11.5m $80.6m
9 (10) Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (Sony Classics) Good Machine International $8.9m $
10 (6) The Emperor's New Groove (Buena Vista) BVI $7.5m $71.2m