The live action adventures of a dog and his chums bit a large chunk out of this weekend's box office as Scooby-Doo opened top of the charts for Warner Brothers on $56.4m, according to industry estimates.
Adapted from the classic Hanna-Barbera cartoon series of the Seventies, the movie version features the combined talents of Sarah Michelle Gellar, Freddie Prinze Jr, Matthew Lillard and a computer-animated Great Dane. Despite some appalling reviews, the canine averaged a terrific $16,368 from 3,447 sites. Scooby's big opening predictably drew a mixed age range and bucked the trend of recent dud TV cartoon adaptations like Josie And The Pussycats and The Adventures Of Rocky And Bullwinkle (both Universal).
Of the weekend's two other new releases, Universal's thriller The Bourne Identity opened second on $27.5m while MGM/UA's wartime drama Windtalkers came third with a disappointing $14.5m.
Adapted from Robert Ludlum's bestseller, The Bourne Identity stars Matt Damon as a highly trained agent with amnesia who must piece his life together and save the day. The picture scored good reviews and averaged $10,425 from 2,638 venues. Its notable crossover success among male and female audiences possibly marks a new direction for Damon as a leading man capable of carrying a major picture.
Windtalkers, directed by John Woo (Mission: Impossible 2, Face/Off), opened to so-so reviews and stars Cage as a solider who escorts Navajo Indian codetalkers in the Second World War. The picture averaged $5,003 from 2,898 sites and is the latest wobbler from MGM after Hart's War and Rollerball.
Last week's number one picture, Paramount's The Sum Of All Fears, dropped three places to fourth on $13.5m. Despite initial concerns over its gritty depiction of nuclear terrorism the picture has gone on to attract a wide demographic and stands on a cumulative gross of $84.5m after three weeks. It averaged $4,179 from 3,230 sites and looks likely to break the $100m barrier within the next two weeks. Comedy-drama Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood slipped three to fifth in its second week on release with $9.8m, averaging $3,909 from 2,507 sites.
Meanwhile the year's biggest two movies so far, Star Wars: Episode II - Attack Of The Clones and Spider-Man, stayed in the mix and continued to exert strong gravitational pull. George Lucas' opus slipped three to sixth but scored a $9.3m haul for 20th Century Fox in its fifth week, bringing its cumulative total to $270.5m. Spidey, now safely ensconced as the fifth highest grossing movie in history, dropped two to seventh with $7.4m. Sam Raimi's Marvel Comics adaptation has amassed a staggering $382.4m in seven weeks for Columbia Pictures.
Elsewhere, Disney's buddy actioner Bad Company dropped four places to eighth, taking a feeble $6.1m in its second week on release and registering a cumulative gross of $21.8m. Spirit: Stallion Of The Cimarron - another top tenner to feature the talents of Matt Damon - fell three places to ninth with a $5.5m gross for DreamWorks SKG and now has $63.8m after four weeks.
The table bottoms out with Universal's Undercover Brother, which slipped three places to tenth. The retro blaxploitation comedy took $4.6m for Universal and stands on $31.5m after three weeks.
Overall revenues continued to rise as the top 12 movies grossed $160m, nearly 25% higher than the same frame last year. The cumulative gross for the year to date is up around 22% on 2001's record $8.4m year. In the limited market, Miramax's longer cut of the Italian classic Cinema Paradiso took $27,000 from three appointments in Los Angeles and New York. It will roll out to more theatres over the next two weeks.
Next week's releases include 20th Century Fox's highly anticipated sci-fi thriller Minority Report, directed by Steven Spielberg and starring Tom Cruise and Samantha Morton; and Buena Vista's cheeky animated romp Lilo & Stitch, featuring the vocal talents of Ving Rhames and Tia Carrere among others.
ESTIMATED TOP TEN US JUNE 14-16
Film (Distributor)/International distribution/Estimated weekend gross/Estimated total to date
1 (-) Scooby-Doo (Warner Brothers) Warner Brothers $56.4m --
2 (-) The Bourne Identity (Universal) UIP $27.5m '
3 (-) Windtalkers (MGM/UA) $14.5m --
4 (1) The Sum of All Fears (Paramount) UIP/Mutual $13.5m $84.5m
5 (2) Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood (Warner Brothers) Warner Brothers $9.8m $34.9m
6 (3) Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones (20th Century Fox) Fox
International $9.2m $270.5m
7 (5) Spider-Man (Columbia) Columbia TriStar $7.4m $382.4m
8 (4) Bad Company (Buena Vista) BVI $6.1m $21.8m
9 (6) Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron (DreamWorks SKG) $5.5m $63.8m
10 (7) Undercover Brother (Universal) UIP $4.6m $31.5m