Men In Black II (MIIB) clung on to top spot at the North American box officeover the weekend with an estimated $25m gross, although a spectacular opening for Road To Perdition on half the number of screens came close to dethroning it. The Columbia Pictures sci-fi sequel averaged $6,923 from 3,611 theatres and has a cumulative box office of $133.3m after ten days, passing the $100m mark after eight days on Wednesday. Despite a storming run, the movie still trails its 1997 predecessor (also directed by Barry Sonnenfeld and starring Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones), which passed $139m on its 12th day and went on to make $250m. Studio executives expect MIIB to finish up in the $200m-$225m range.

All four of the weekend's top ten openers fared well, with director Sam Mendes' gangster saga Road To Perdition scoring second place with a $22.11m opening. The DreamWorks SKG movie is being distributed internationally by 20th Century Fox and garnered mostly good reviews and praise for Mendes, who follows up from his 1999 Oscar winner American Beauty. Hanks plays a depression-era hitman whose young son witnesses him commit a murder. Paul Newman and Jude Law co-star. Road To Perdition averaged $12,305 from 1,797 venues, an impressive figure bearing in mind it opened on just under half the number of screens as MIIB. Studio executives are confident strong word of mouth will continue to pull in a predominantly adult audience and the picture will expand to another several hundred cinemas next weekend.

The fantasy picture Reign Of Fire took $16m and third place for Spyglass Entertainment which releases through Buena Vista in North America and many international territories. Directed by Rob Bowman and starring Christian Bale and Matthew McConaughey as dragon slayers on post-apocalyptic earth, the picture had mixed reviews and averaged $6,086 from 2,629 theatres. Halloween: Resurrection opened fourth with a $12.3m gross. Jamie Lee Curtis returns to screaming duties in yet another sequel to John Carpenter's 1978 seminal slasher movie, Halloween. The $13m picture, which is released through Miramax's genre label, Dimension, received a thorough pasting in the press but a decent $6,295 average from 1,954 venues and should have no trouble recouping its costs.

The Adam Sandler comedy Mr Deeds slipped three places to five with $11m. The film has grossed $94.1m after three weekends and looks set to join Spider-Man and MIIB in Columbia's $100m-plus club for 2002. MGM, which is the lowest ranked major studio this year following a slew of duds, will be somewhat heartened by the performance of Crocodile Hunter: Collision Course, which opened sixth on $10m. The family action adventure stars Australian zookeeper and TV celebrity Steve Irwin and is expected to go into profit, having cost between $10m and $12m to make.

Fox's sci-fi thriller Minority Report fell from fourth to ninth with $7.41m and now has a $110.33m total. It passed $100m on its 24th day on release earlier in the week. Universal's action thriller The Bourne Identity fell four places to tenth with $5.8m and, with a $99m cumulative total, is poised to officially strike gold when it crosses the $100m mark later this week.

Overall the top 12 movies combined for $130.8m, up 20% on the same weekend last year. The total box office for the year to date is up 20% on 2001, which finished on $8.4bn.

Next weekend's releases include giant spiders on the rampage in Nevada in Warner Brothers' Eight-Legged Freaks; Harrison Ford as an embattled nuclear submarine captain in Paramount's K-19: The Widowmaker; and Columbia's children's summer sequel Stuart Little 2.


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

1 (1) Men In Black II (Columbia) Columbia TriStar $25m $133.3m

2 (-) Road To Perdition (DreamWorks SKG) 20th Century Fox $22.11m --

3 (-) Reign Of Fire (Buena Vista) BVI/Spyglass $16m --

4 (-) Halloween: Resurrection (Dimension) Miramax International $12.3m --

5 (2) Mr. Deeds (Columbia) Columbia TriStar $11m $94.1m

6 (-) The Crocodile Hunter: Collision Course (MGM) 20th Century Fox $10m --

7 (5) Like Mike (20th Century Fox) Fox $7.62m $32.61m

8 (3) Lilo & Stitch (Buena Vista) BVI $7.60m $118m

9 (4) Minority Report (20th Century Fox) Fox/DreamWorks $7.41m $110.33m

10 (6) The Bourne Identity (Universal) UIP $5.80m $99m