Despite four new releases in the marketplace, nothing could displace Warner Bros' comedy The Whole Nine Yards from the top position at the US box office. In its third weekend, the comedy directed by Jonathan Lynn and starring Bruce Willis and Matthew Perry, grossed $7.3m on 2,793 screens, bringing its total take to $38.5m.

Meanwhile Paramount's The Next Best Thing, produced by Lakeshore Entertainment and sold overseas by Lakeshore International, took $6m for the second slot. The film, which had been widely disliked by critics, played on 2,007 screens for a so-so screen average of $2,990 (although higher than The Whole Nine Yards). It stars Madonna and Rupert Everett as best friends, she straight, he gay, who decide to raise a child together. John Schlesinger directed.

But The Next Best Thing was the best new performer in a weak marketplace. Warner's family drama My Dog Skip, produced by Alcon Entertainment and featuring Kevin Bacon, Diane Lane and Luke Wilson, had been on limited release for seven weeks but its first wide weekend mustered $5.9m on 2,331 screens for a $2,548 screen average. The movie, directed by Jay Russell, cost only $7m and has so far grossed a total of $6.7m.

Also on $5.9m was Drowning Mona, the third release from Destination Films which reteams Danny DeVito and Bette Midler for the first time since Ruthless People. Neve Campbell co-stars. The comedy about the investigation into the death of the most hated woman (Midler) in a small town played on 1,981 screens for an average of $2,982 per screen.

Two other openers didn't even make the top ten. MGM's urban comedy Three Strikes, released by the studio on behalf of producers Motion Picture Corporation Of America, opened at number 12 with $3.6m. However, its screen average of $5,310 (it played on only 678 screens) was higher than any other opener. The film is directed by DJ Pooh and stars Brian Hooks.

Worst of all was SPE's What Planet Are You From', a critically loathed comedy from veteran Mike Nichols starring Garry Shandling as an alien sent to earth to impregnate an earth woman. It debuted at Number 14 with $3m from 2,248 screens - an average of $1,335 per screen. That, despite the starry cast of Annette Bening, John Goodman, Ben Kingsley, Linda Fiorentino, Camryn Manheim, Janeane Garofalo and Greg Kinnear.


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

1(1) The Whole Nine Yards (Warner Bros) Franchise Pictures $7.3m $38.5m
2(-) The Next Best Thing (Paramount) Lakeshore International $6m -
3(-) My Dog Skip (Warner Bros) Warner Bros $5.94m $6.7m
4(-) Drowning Mona (Destination Films) Capitol Films $5.9m --
5 Tied (4) Pitch Black (USA Films) Universal Pictures International $5m $29.7m
5 Tied (2) Snow Day (Paramount) UIP $5m $49.2m
7(3) Reindeer Games (Miramax) Miramax International $4.8m $15.1m
8(7) Wonder Boys (Paramount) Mutual Film International $4.2m $11.5m
9(9) American Beauty (DreamWorks) UIP $4.1m $93.1m
10(10) The Cider House Rules (Miramax) Miramax International $4.05m $37.2m