20th Century Fox's Martin Lawrence-starrer Big Momma's House opened with a surprisingly strong $25.6m (estimated) over the weekend at the North American box office, giving Paramount's Mission: Impossible 2 a run for its money. However, the Tom Cruise action adventure clung to the top spot with $27m in its second weekend on release. M: I 2, as it has come to be known, has now taken $130.7m after 12 days in the marketplace and looks set to outgross its predecessor which after its first two weekends in 1996 had taken $107m. The original went on to take $181m.

In Big Momma's House, which has similarities to Universal's upcoming Eddie Murphy comedy Nutty II: The Klumps, Lawrence plays an FBI agent investigating a case in the Deep South who dresses as a southern grandma to solve the crime. Lawrence may not have much international value yet but he is fast approaching superstar status in North America where his hits have included Blue Streak, Bad Boys, Nothing To Lose and Life. Big Momma's House played on 2,082 screens and scored a screen average of $9,136 - higher than M: I 2 which came second with $7,391.

Box office was understandably down after last weekend's Memorial Day holiday. M:I 2, for example, fell 53% after its spectacular opening.

The only other new movie in the market - Columbia Pictures' horse drama Running Free - didn't look promising on a limited 100-screen release. Its $54,500 take gave it a screen average of $545.

The success of Big Momma's House will be welcome news for 20th Century Fox which is looking to this summer's releases to reverse a run of domestic disappointments through 1999 and early 2000. Coming up are animated epic Titan AE, Jim Carrey comedy Me Myself And Irene and comic book adventure X-Men.

Next weekend, another tentpole picture hits the market, this time from Touchstone Pictures and Buena Vista. Gone In 60 Seconds, which marks producer Jerry Bruckheimer's first film since 1998's Enemy Of The State, stars Nicolas Cage and Angelina Jolie. Ironically it was another Bruckheimer/Cage movie, The Rock, which knocked the first Mission: Impossible off the number one spot in 1996.


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

1 (1) Mission: Impossible II (Paramount) UIP $27m $130.7m
2 (-) Big Momma's House (20th Century Fox) 20th Century Fox $25.6m --
3 (2) Dinosaur (Buena Vista) BVI $12m $96.8m
4 (3) Shanghai Noon (Buena Vista) Spyglass/BVI $8.6m $31.9m
5 (4) Gladiator (DreamWorks SKG) Universal/UIP $8.1m $138.7m
6 (5) Road Trip (DreamWorks SKG) UIP $6.7m $45.5m
7 (7) Frequency (New Line) New Line International $2.1m $38m
8 (6) Small Time Crooks (DreamWorks SKG) Intermedia $1.7m $11.2m
9 (8) U-571 (Universal) StudioCanal/Summit $1.4m $71m
10 (9) Center Stage (Columbia) Columbia TriStar $1.1m $14.4m