Queen Of The Damned, Warner Bros' film of the Anne Rice novel, topped the box office in North America over the weekend with an estimated $15.2m take on 2,511 screens. Based on the third book in Rice's Vampire Chronicles, the $30m film is notable as the last film role for R&B star Aaliyah who tragically died in a plane crash last year. She stars as a 6,000 year-old vampire queen facing off with the Vampire Lestat, played by hot British actor Stuart Townsend.
Queen Of The Damned, which was favourably reviewed by critics, roundly beat out the other wide opener Dragonfly, a semi-supernatural drama starring Kevin Costner, which grossed an estimated $10m. Costner plays a doctor in the film haunted by his dead wife. Tom Shadyac, who last directed Patch Adams, directed for Universal and Spyglass Entertainment - the Disney-based outfit which was recently sold to Germany's Intermedia.
Dragonfly came in third behind New Line's John Q, which grossed an estimated $12.5m in its second weekend to bring its ten-day total to some $40m.
Box office was up 14% from the same weekend last year, and looks even stronger when Paramount's We Were Soldiers starring Mel Gibson and Miramax's college comedy 40 Days And 40 Nights featuring Josh Hartnett open next weekend.
It's no sure thing that Gibson will attract his usual following if other recent star vehicles are anything to go by. Arnold Schwarzenegger-starrer Collateral Damage tumbled six spots in its third weekend to number ten with just $3.7m and a feeble total of $34.5m. And Bruce Willis couldn't help MGM's Hart's War which fell over some 50% in its second weekend to take $4.6m and a hugely disappointing $13.9m ten-day total.
Meanwhile Black Hawk Down, which fell out of the top ten this week, nevertheless passed the $100m mark with a $3.7m gross to bring its total to $101.4m. It's director Ridley Scott's third consecutive picture to cross the $100m mark after Gladiator and Hannibal, and the first from Joe Roth's Revolution Studios.
ESTIMATED TOP TEN US FEB 22-24
Film (Distributor)/International distribution/Estimated weekend gross/Estimated total to date
1 (-) Queen Of The Damned (Warner Bros) Warner/Village Roadshow --
2 (1) John Q (New Line) New Line International $12.5m $39.9m
3 (-) Dragonfly (Universal) UIP/Spyglass $10.4m --
4 (3) Return To Neverland (Buena Vista) BVI $9m $27.2m
5 (2) Crossroads (Paramount/MTV Films) Summit Entertainment $7.1m $26.3m
6 (5) Big Fat Liar (Universal) UIP $6.7m $33.6m
7 (6) A Beautiful Mind (Universal) DreamWorks/UIP $5.2m $132.6m
8 (7) Hart's War (MGM) MGM/20th Century Fox $4.6m $13.9m
9 (9) Super Troopers (Fox Searchlight) 20th Century Fox $3.9m $12.5m
10 (4) Collateral Damage (Warner Bros) Warner/Bel-Air $3.7m $34.5m