Topping the Columbus Day weekend box office in North America with the highest October opening ever was Universal's comedy Meet The Parents which grossed a stunning $29.1m at 2,614 theatres. The comedy, directed by Jay Roach - the man behind the two Austin Powers films, was another hit for Universal and yet another for DreamWorks SKG which co-financed the film and is handling it internationally.
Meet The Parents stars Ben Stiller as a male nurse spending a nightmarish weekend with his girlfriend's parents, specifically her scary father (De Niro). It is the highest opening ever for a Stiller film, or a De Niro movie for that matter.
Coming in second with a strong second weekend was Buena Vista's football drama Remember The Titans which slipped just 6% to take $19.6m, bringing its ten-day total to an impressive $46.2m. Both Parents and Titans look set to join the other movies which have grossed over $100m this year.
Other movies didn't fare so well. Franchise Pictures' Get Carter - a remake of Mike Hodges' 1971 British classic - opened with just $6.7m at number three. A return to the screen for Sylvester Stallone who was last seen in Cop Land in 1997, it's the third disappointment in a row for Franchise after Battlefield Earth and The Art Of War. Warner and Franchise also opted not to preview the film to critics, usually a sign that the film is banking on its opening weekend since critics will do too much damage subsequently. Also new in the top ten was Digimon: The Movie, an animated Pokemon ripoff from Fox which took a lacklustre $4.1m.
Meanwhile in the independent arena, Artisan Entertainment opened its critically acclaimed drugs drama Requiem For A Dream on two New York screens and took a massive $72,000 for an average of $36,000 per screen. The controversial and hard-hitting film, based on the book by Hubert Selby Jr and directed by Darren Aronofsky, was rated NC-17 by the MPAA and, in the light of the recent uproar over Hollywood's marketing practices, theatre employees reportedly checked identification at the door to ensure that nobody under 17 was admitted. It stars Jared Leto, Jennifer Connelly and Ellen Burstyn in a performance which is being tipped for awards recognition.
Other openers included Spike Lee's Bamboozled ($175,000 on 17 screens) and Joel Schumacher's Tigerland ($29,000 on 5 screens).
ESTIMATED TOP TEN US (OCT 6 - 8)
Film (Distributor)/International distribution/Estimated weekend gross/Estimated total to date
1 (-) Meet The Parents (Universal) DreamWorks $29.1m --
2 (1) Remember The Titans (Buena Vista) BVI $19.6m $46.2m
3 (-) Get Carter (Warner Bros) Franchise Pictures $6.7m --
4 (2) The Exorcist: The Version You've Never Seen (Warner Bros) Warner Bros $4.6m $24.1m
5 (-) Digimon: The Movie (20th Century Fox) 20th Century Fox $4.1m --
6 (3) Almost Famous (DreamWorks SKG) Columbia TriStar $3.8m $23.3m
7 (4) Urban Legends: Final Cut (Columbia) Columbia TriStar/Phoenix $2.6m $18.2m
8 (5) Bring It On (Universal) Beacon/BVFS $2.2m $62.4m
9 (8) What Lies Beneath (DreamWorks SKG) 20th Century Fox $1.2m $152.2m
10 (7) Nurse Betty (USA Films) Summit Entertainment $1.1m $22.7m