Paramount Pictures, hot on the heels of Mission: Impossible 2, has scored another summer smash with its updated remake of 1971 blaxploitation classic Shaft. Featuring Samuel L Jackson as New York cop Shaft with original star Richard Roundtree as his uncle John, the movie grossed $21.1m over the three-day weekend beating off mixed reviews to lead the North American box office. Its screen average of $9,029 was by far the highest in the top ten.
John Singleton directed the new Shaft in which Jackson, dressed by Armani, fights for justice when rich racist Christian Bale gets off a murder charge for the killing of a black student. Toni Collette plays the only witness to the murder whom both Shaft and Bale are pursuing.
Other new openers were disappointing. 20th Century Fox had high hopes for its epic and costly animated science fiction picture Titan AE but failed to snare the teen boy audience it was targeting, taking a mediocre $9.5m on 2,733 screens.
Miramax's college-set romantic comedy Boys And Girls which features Freddie Prinze Jr, Claire Forlani and Jason Biggs took a so-so $7m, while Buena Vista's four-week wide opening of Fantasia 2000 (which has already grossed more than $50m on its IMAX release) began with only $2.8m.
Last weekend's champion Gone In 60 Seconds, the victim of poisonous reviews, slipped 42% in its second weekend to take $14.7m. Martin Lawrence's comedy Big Momma's House, on the other hand, was stable at number three with $11.3m. Mission: Impossible 2 took $10.9m to bring its colossal total to $176.1m.
Next weekend will see the opening of two keenly anticipated summer movies - DreamWorks SKG's claymation animated Chicken Run and Fox's Farrelly Brothers comedy Me Myself And Irene which teams Jim Carrey and Renee Zellwegger.
ESTIMATED TOP TEN US (JUNE 16-18)
Film (Distributor)/International distribution/Estimated weekend gross/Estimated total to date
1 (-) Shaft (Paramount) UIP $21.1m --
2 (1) Gone In 60 Seconds (Buena Vista) BVI $14.7m $51.9m
3 (3) Big Momma's House (20th Fox) 20th Fox International $11.3m $70.7m
4 (2) Mission: Impossible 2 (Paramount) UIP $10.9m $22.2m $176.1m
5 (-) Titan AE (20th Fox) 20th Fox International $9.5m --
6 (-) Boys And Girls (Miramax) Miramax International $7m --
7 (4) Dinosaur (Buena Vista) BVI $5.8m $120.5m
8 (5) Gladiator (DreamWorks) Universal/UIP $4.9m $158.6m
9 (6) Shanghai Noon (Buena Vista) Spyglass/BVI $3.6m $47.8m
10 (7) Road Trip (DreamWorks) UIP $3.1m $60.2m