Competition for the number one slot was as intense as ever over the weekend (Jan 21-23) at the UK box office, with the top three films all grossing within £100,000 ($165,000) of each other.

Stigmata (pictured), the supernatural thriller starring Patricia Arquette and Gabriel Byrne, broke into the UK chart with a three-day gross of £1m ($1.6m) despite being critically panned by the British press. It wasn't enough however to displace the new year sleeper Sleepy Hollow from the number one position which fell 33% from last weekend to give it a steely running tally of £7.5m ($12.4m) after 17 days. Alan Parker's Angela's Ashes, across 326 screens, held over well on its second weekend, dropping just 13% to £3.4m ($5.6m).

The other two major openers were disappointing: Robin Williams steered Columbia TriStar's Bicentennial Man to a poor screen average of £1,318 ($2,174). And the British film Rancid Aluminium, starring Joseph Fiennes and Rhys Ifans (the Welsh flatmate of Hugh Grant in Notting Hill) grossed £157,582 ($260,000) from 138 screens - a screen average of £1,142 ($1,884) - despite Entertainment's TV advertising campaign.

The most successful opening of the week was the Indian film Phir Bhi Dil Hai Hindustani, distributed by Eros Entertainment which scooped a three-day gross of £98,556 ($162,600) from 20 screens, placing it at number 14 in the chart. Starring two of India's top actors, Shahrukh Khan and Juhi Chawla, it is also the first foray into production for the acting duo.


Down To You, Next Friday top US box office

(Mike Goodridge in Park City)

Miramax Films' teen romance Down To You topped the US box office chart over the weekend with an estimated $8.3m, a small margin over last weekend's top film Next Friday, which came in this weekend with an estimated $8.2m.

However, Down To You took only half of Miramax's 1999 She's All That which topped the box office almost exactly a year ago (Jan 29-31 weekend) with a $16m opening. That went on to become Miramax's biggest 1999 hit with a box office total of $63.4m.

In the movie, Freddy Prinze and Julia Stiles (Ten Things I Hate About You, Sundance premiere Hamlet) play a college couple in crisis after a grad student turned porn star (Selma Blair) leads Prinze astray. The film is the directorial debut of Kris Isaacsson who also wrote it. Producers on the film are indie veterans Joana Vicente and Jason Kliot, whose credits include Three Seasons.

New Line's Next Friday, last week's box office champion, took an estimated $8.2m after its impressive opening of $21.5m in its first six days. Next Friday, with an estimated $32m total after 12 days, has already outgrossed the $27.5m total scored by Friday in 1995.

Figures are merely estimates at this point, and at time of going to press, New Line was claiming that Next Friday beat Down To You. Next Friday certainly had a higher screen average, playing on only 1,175 screens.

Meanwhile Beacon Pictures/Universal's The Hurricane, which won the Best Actor (drama) Golden Globe award for Denzel Washington, came in at number three with $7m.

Only other new entry was Ron Shelton's Play It To The Bone, a boxing comedy independently produced by Shelton and Stephen Chin's Shanghai'd Films. Shanghai'd sold the movie to Buena Vista domestically and licensed international rights to Buena Vista Film Sales in a separate deal. The picture, which teams Woody Harrelson and Antonio Banderas grossed only $3.5m on 1,556 screens.

Angela's Ashes (pictured), which Paramount is releasing domestically (Universal/UIP has international rights), went wide on 610 screens and grossed a mild $3.3m. The movie has generally been excluded from the critics' "ten best" lists and won a single Golden Globe nomination for John Williams' score. Another potential awards contender Buena Vista's Cradle Will Rock, widened to 506 screens and grossed a disappointing $600,000. UGC International has foreign rights to the picture.


1. Down To You (Miramax Films) Miramax International $8.3m $8.3m
2. Next Friday (New Line) New Line International $8.2m $32m
3. The Hurricane (Universal) Beacon Pictures/BVI $7m $23.4m
4. Stuart Little (Columbia) Columbia TriStar $6.5m $117m
5. The Green Mile (Warner Bros) Universal/UIP $5.5m $109.7m
6. Galaxy Quest (DreamWorks SKG) UIP $4.8m $54.6m
7. Girl, Interrupted (Columbia) Columbia TriStar $4.4m $16.3m
8. The Talented Mr Ripley (Paramount) Miramax International $3.9m $68.4m
9. Play It To The Bone (Buena Vista) Buena Vista Film Sales $3.5m $3.5m
10. Angela's Ashes (Paramount) Universal $3.3m $3.7m