A haunted video tape proved too much for Hannibal and friends over the weekend as DreamWorks SKG's The Ring spooked Red Dragon off the top spot with an estimated $15m bow. The English-language remake of Hideo Nakata's 1998 Japanese horror picture Ringu impressed the critics and averaged $7,571 from 1,981 theatres. Upcoming star Naomi Watts, who won rave reviews for her performance in Universal's Mulholland Drive last year, stars as a reporter who investigates a cursed videotape that supposedly results in the death within a week of anyone who watches it. It was directed by Gore Verbinski, who also scored a number one hit last year with DreamWorks' The Mexican, and co-stars New Zealand newcomer Martin Henderson. If estimates hold up this will be the sixth consecutive weekend that box office receipts have risen, with the top 12 pictures combining for $74.2m, up 2% on the same period in 2001.
While Red Dragon tumbled to third place for Universal with an $8.8m haul that raises its tally after three weekends to $77.8m, Buena Vista's Sweet Home Alabama held firm in second with $9.6m for an impressive $98.5m running total in its fourth weekend. The Reese Witherspoon-starrer should pass $100m this week. Up one place to fourth was the eternal story of independent hope, IFC's My Big Fat Greek Wedding. Although the comedy is a $100m-plus veteran these days it still has plenty of life in it and grossed $7.2m for a $169.3m cumulative score in its 27th week on release. Down two to fifth was Fox Searchlight's Brown Sugar with $5.3m for an $18.6m running total in its second weekend.
Opening in seventh was Paramount's psychological thriller Abandon with a lower-than-expected $5.3m. Co-produced by Spyglass Entertainment, whose recent credits include Reign Of Fire, The Count Of Monte Cristo and Dragonfly, Abandon failed to capture the imagination of audiences and critics, who gave it poor reviews. Katie Holmes stars as a student haunted by the disappearance of her soulmate while Benjamin Bratt lends support as a troubled detective. The picture marked the directorial debut of Stephan Gaghan, who won an Oscar for his Traffic screenplay last year and who also wrote the script for Abandon. The picture averaged $2,263 from 2,341 venues.
Up two to ninth place and making a return to the top ten in its third weekend was Artisan's Jonah: A VeggieTales Movie, with $4.1m for a $16.2m cumulative score. The other opener to under perform was Screen Gems' Formula 51, a drug caper starring Samuel L Jackson and Robert Carlyle. The picture, which is known as The 51st State outside the US, finished 12th with poor reviews and a $1,561 average from 1,857 theatres.
Next weekend's featured releases include Warner Bros' Ghost Ship starring Julianna Margulies and Gabriel Byrne; Universal's Charade remake The Truth About Charlie, starring Mark Wahlberg and Thandie Newton; and Paramount's Jackass: The Movie, based on the hit MTV series.
Estimated Top Ten US October 18-20, 2002
Film (Distributor)/International distribution/Estimated weekend gross/Estimated total to date
1 (-) The Ring (DreamWorks) UIP $15m --
2 (2) Sweet Home Alabama (Buena Vista) BVI $9.6m $98.5m
3 (1) Red Dragon (Universal) UIP $8.79m $77.84m
4 (5) My Big Fat Greek Wedding (IFC Films) Vortex Pictures $7.15m $169.3m
5 (3) Brown Sugar (Fox Searchlight) Fox $5.3m $18.59m
6 (-) Abandon (Paramount) Spyglass/BVI $5.3m ñ
7 (4) The Transporter (Fox) Fox $5.01m $17.12m
8 (6) The Tuxedo (DreamWorks) UIP $4.1m $43.1m
9 (11) Jonah: A VeggieTales Movie (Artisan) n/a $4.1m $16.2m
10 (8) Tuck Everlasting (Buena Vista) BVI $3.7m $10.6m