Adam Sandler wasback on top of the box office over the weekend as his latest comedy Mr Deeds opened with a smashing estimated $37.6mat 3,231 sites for Columbia Pictures. The film marks another hit for the studioafter Spider-Man and PanicRoom, and continues arun of success which should reach record proportions if next weekend's MenIn Black II and StuartLittle 2 (July 19) openaccording to expectations.

Sandler hasscored multiple hits in the past with The Waterboy and The Wedding Singer for New Line and Big Daddy for Columbia, but his 2000 holiday movieLittle Nicky (NewLine) rocked his career with terrible reviews and a total box office take of$39.4m which was expected to be the size of its opening weekend gross. MrDeeds, which is aco-venture between Columbia and New Line Cinema (although Columbia hasworldwide distribution rights), puts Sandler back in the big league, and 2002could mark a great year for the comedy star who has two movies coming out atyear-end: animated comedy Adam Sandler's Eight Crazy Nights also from Columbia which opens on Nov 27and Punch Drunk Lovedirected by Paul Thomas Anderson which won strong reviews at Cannes this year.Columbia/Revolution will release that film at the end of the year in time forawards consideration.

Winona Ryder,John Turturro, Steve Buscemi, Jared Harris and Peter Gallagher co-star withSandler in Mr Deedswhich was directed by Steven Brill, a Sandler pal who wrote and directed LittleNicky and had roles in TheWedding Singer and BigDaddy. It is a remake ofFrank Capra's 1936 classic starring Gary Cooper about a sweet-naturedsmall-town man who inherits a fortune from a long-lost relative and is thrustinto the big business world of New York City.

Mr Deeds knocked MinorityReport off the top spot: indeed, the StevenSpielberg-directed thriller slipped two places to number three with a total of$21.6m. Meanwhile Disney's animated comedy Lilo & Stitch held stable at number two with a powerful secondweekend gross of $22.2m. Both are likely to cross the $100m mark in the nextfortnight.

Thanks to themight of these three films combined with strong third weekends for Scooby-Doo ($12.2m) and The Bourne Identity ($10.8m), box office was up nearly 13%from the same weekend last summer, bringing movie revenues to about 20% up onthe same six month period last year. With Men In Black II set for next weekend - a JulyFourth holiday weekend which for many will last from Thursday to Sunday -the record pace is only set to continue.

The only othernew opener disappointed over the weekend for Paramount Pictures. Low-costNickelodeon animated tie-in Hey Arnold! The Movie grossed an estimated $6m at 2,527 sitesfor a dull $2,374 average, indicating that it won't follow the Rugratsfilms or Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius as a theatrical crossover for Nickelodeon Movies.

But all news was not bad for Paramount. The studio enjoyedits first $100m hit of the year with Jack Ryan action picture The Sum Of AllFears which has now taken $105m after fiveweekends.

On the limited opening front, Lions Gate's LovelyAnd Amazing directed by Nicole Holofcenerand starring Catherine Keener and Emily Mortimer took an estimated $96,000 ateight theatres in New York and Los Angeles for a strong $12,000 average. ButUnited Artists suffered from bad reviews with its American Zoetrope-producedcomedy Pumpkin starring ChristinaRicci, which took some $30,000 at eight theatres. Ironically both filmsco-starred Brit stalwart Brenda Blethyn.


Film (Distributor)/Internationaldistribution/Estimated weekend gross/Estimated total to date

1 (-) Mr Deeds (Columbia) Columbia TriStar $37.6m --

2 (2) Lilo & Stitch (Buena Vista) BVI $22.2m $77.8m

3 (1) Minority Report (20th Century Fox) Fox/DreamWorks $21.6m$73.5m

4 (3) Scooby-Doo (Warner Bros) Warner Bros $12.2m $123.8m

5 (4) The Bourne Identity (Universal) UIP $10.8m $72.5m

6 (-) Hey Arnold! TheMovie (Paramount) UIP $6m --

7 (5) The Sum Of AllFears (Paramount) UIP/Mutual $4.8m$105.3m

8 (7) Divine Secrets OfThe Ya-Ya Sisterhood (Warner Bros)Warner Bros $4m $55.3m

9 (6) Windtalkers (MGM) 20th Century Fox/President $3.6m$33.3m

10 (9) Star Wars: EpisodeII - Attack Of The Clones (20thCentury Fox) Fox International $3.56m $286.1m