North American audiencescontinued to gobble up the horror genre as Screen Gems' Underworld opened top at the weekend on an estimated $22m.
Four of the top five werenew entries, while Woody Allen's Anything Else disappointed outside the top 10. The top 12 filmsgrossed $94m, up 37% against the same period last year.
The performance of the weekend,however, came from Focus Features' Lost In Translation, which in its second week climbed five places to10th, adding $2.8m from 183 sites for a $4.1m running total.
Underworld's strong bow - despite critical indifference - marksthe third time a horror film has opened number one in the last six weeks, theothers being Freddy Vs Jason and JeepersCreepers 2.
It stars Kate Beckinsale andScott Speedman as a vampire and werewolf who defy their warring clans and fall in love. It wasdirected by Len Wiseman, averaged $7,547 from 2,915 sites and is already closeto recouping its production cost, which was in the low-$20m range.
Opening second on $13.2m wasParamount's The Fighting Temptations, which divided the critics and centres on a rap star who has to form agospel choir in order to inherit a fortune.
Starring Cuba Gooding Jr andBeyonce Knowles, the $30m comedy was directed by Jonathan Lynn and produced byMTV Films. It averaged $6,515 from 2,026 sites.
Opening third on was NewLine's Secondhand Lions, a 1960sfamily drama about a shy teenager who spends the summer with his mysterious andeccentric great-uncles.
The film stars MichaelCaine, Robert Duvall and Haley Joel Osment and was directed by Tim McCanlies.It averaged $4,273 from 3,013 sites and received mixed reviews.
Last week's top film OnceUpon A Time In Mexico fell threeplaces to fourth, adding $11.5m for $41.4m and is expected to reach $60m.
Opening fifth on $8.3m was ColdCreek Manor, which was torn apart bythe critics and averaged $4,081 from 2,035 venues.
Dennis Quaid and SharonStone - who returns after a lengthy sabbatical - play an urban couple who buyan idyllic rural hideaway that turns into a nightmare.
Directed by Mike Figgis, thethriller was produced by Disney's Touchstone Pictures division.
Warner Bros' scamcomedy-drama Matchstick Men fellfour places in its second week to sixth, adding $7.8m for $24.5m.
Woody Allen's latestromantic comedy, Anything Elseopened through DreamWorks outside the top 10 on a weak $1.7m.
It received mixed reviewsand stars Jason Biggs in the traditional Allen role as the lovelorn writer andChristina Ricci as the object of his desire. Allen plays the young man'smentor.
Next week's releases includethe Miramax comedy Duplex,starring Ben Stiller and Drew Barrymore; Universal's action romp The Rundown, starring Dwayne Johnson (aka The Rock), SeannWilliam Scott and Christopher Walken; and Buena Vista's romance Under TheTuscan Sun, which stars Diane Laneand Raoul Bova.
Estimated Top Ten US Sept19-21, 2003
Film(Distributor)/International distribution/Estimated weekend gross/Estimatedtotal to date
1 (-) Underworld (Screen Gems) Lakeshore International $22m -
2 (-) The FightingTemptations (Paramount) UIP $13.2m -
3 (-) Secondhand Lions (New Line) NLI $12.9m -
4 (1) Once Upon A Time InMexico (Columbia) Miramax/CTFDI$11.5 $41.4m
5 (-) Cold Creek Manor (Buena Vista) BVI $8.3m -
6 (2) Matchstick Men (Warner Bros) Warner Bros $7.8m $24.5m
7 (3) Cabin Fever (Lions Gate) Lions Gate International $3.9m $14.7m
8 (4) Dickie Roberts:Former Child Star (Paramount) UIP$3.8m $17.3m
9 (5) Pirates Of TheCaribbean (Buena Vista) BVI $3.5m$292.5m
10 (15) Lost InTranslation (Focus) Focus $2.8m$4.1m