Sony Pictures Entertainment(SPE) kicked off its high-powered 2002 slate of event movies with a bang overEaster Weekend, as Jodie Foster-starrer Panic Room debuted with the biggest Easter opening of all timeof $30.2m in three days. Directed by David Fincher, the taut R-rated thrillerreceived mainly favourable reviews and gives SPE a good start to its costlylineup which also includes The Sweetest Thing which opens in a fortnight and Spiderman which opens on May 3 and a summer including MenIn Black 2, Stuart Little 2 and Mr Deeds.

Panic Room, which was originally scheduled to star NicoleKidman who pulled out at the last minute due to injury, features Foster as anewly divorced woman who moves into a plush brownstone in Manhattan with herteenage daughter only to be terrorized the first night by three burglars andtrapped in the building's panic room. Forest Whitaker, Jared Leto andDwight Yoakam play the marauders.

20th Century Foxcelebrated its first $100m hit of the year with Ice Age which held steady at number two with $18.6m in itsthird weekend. With a gross to date of $117.3m, the film is the year'sfirst opener to cross the magical benchmark.

Ice Age stayed ahead of other openers The Rookie, a baseball drama starring Dennis Quaid and RachelGriffiths from Buena Vista, which took $15.8m for the third slot andParamount's Clockstoppers,a family adventure from Nickelodeon Movies which came in fifth with $10.1m.Jesse Bradford plays the lead in Clockstoppers about a boy who stumbles across a watch which canstop time; Gale Anne Hurd produced, Jonathan Frakes directed.

Biggest disappointment of the week was Death To Smoochy, a dark comedy set in the world of kids' TVwhich Warner Bros co-financed with FilmFour and Senator Entertainment. Despiteits pedigree - director Danny DeVito and stars Ed Norton, Robin Williams,DeVito and Catherine Keener - the film took just $4.3m at 2,164 sites fora feeble average of $1,980. Dismal reviews didn't help.

Oscar winner A BeautifulMind received a boost from its wins,taking $4m for the number eight slot and a total of $161m. New Line's TheLord Of The Rings: The Fellowship Of The Ring, which won four Oscars, took $2.3m to bring its total over the $300mmark to $301.2m.

Overall boxoffice was on the up from last year by about 40%, meaning that the year to dateis tracking at about 13% higher than 2001 at the same time. A crowded summeronly promises more gains.


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

1 (-) Panic Room (Columbia) Columbia TriStar $30.2m --

2 (2) Ice Age (20th Century Fox) Fox International$18.6m $117.3m

3 (-) The Rookie (Buena Vista) BVI $15.8m --

4 (1) Blade II (New Line) New Line International $13.2m $54.9m

5 (-) Clockstoppers (Paramount) UIP $10.1m --

6 (3) ET - TheExtra-Terrestrial (Universal) UIP$6.1m $24.3m

7 (-) Death To Smoochy (Warner Bros) Warner/FilmFour/Senator $4.3m --

8 (9) A Beautiful Mind (Universal) DreamWorks/UIP $4m $161m

9 (6) We Were Soldiers (Paramount) Icon International $3.53m

10 (4) Showtime (Warner Bros) Warner/Village Roadshow $3.5m $33.3m