'Hannibal' Tops Box Office Again

Monday, February 19th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Movie-goers remained hungry for ``Hannibal,'' which grossed $30 million to top the box office for a second straight weekend.

The sequel to ``The Silence of the Lambs'' became the first movie released this year to hit $100 million, taking in $103.9 million in just 10 days, according to studio estimates Sunday.

Chris Rock's comedy ``Down to Earth'' — a remake of ``Heaven Can Wait,'' itself a remake of ``Here Comes Mr. Jordan'' — debuted at No. 2 with $17.5 million.

``Recess: School's Out'' premiered in third place with $10.8 million. Based on the TV cartoon ``Disney's Recess,'' the movie follows a pack of school chums as they battle a plot to do away with summer vacation.

``Sweet November,'' a remake of a 1968 movie starring Sandy Dennis and Anthony Newley, debuted at No. 4 with $10.6 million. The tearjerker romance stars Keanu Reeves and Charlize Theron.

The box office was boosted by the long President's Day weekend, with more people hitting theaters on Sunday because they had the day off Monday.

Overall, the top 12 movies grossed $109.8 million, up 17 percent from the same weekend a year ago.

Last week's Oscar nominations gave a box-office bounce to some best-picture contenders.

``Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon'' expanded to 1,651 cinemas, up by 447, and grossed $8.8 million, a 62 percent increase over last weekend. ``Chocolat'' added 333 theaters, bringing it to 1,481, and took in $4.8 million, an increase of 56 percent.

``People love to catch up with the best-picture nominees before the Oscars,'' said David Kaminow, senior vice president of marketing for ``Chocolat'' distributor Miramax.

Another best-picture contender, ``Traffic,'' boosted its weekend take by 47 percent, grossing $6.5 million.

Smaller films with key acting nominations also benefitted. ``Pollock,'' which had a one-week Oscar-qualifying run in December, reopened with a best-actor nod for Ed Harris, who also directed, and a supporting-actress slot for Marcia Gay Harden.

The film biography of painter Jackson Pollock grossed $240,500 in 14 theaters, averaging an impressive $17,180 per cinema.

Paramount's ``Down to Earth,'' Rock's first starring role, averaged a healthy $6,942 per theater despite so-so reviews.

``Films that appeal to younger male audiences like this, I don't want to say they're review-proof, but the audience will show up even with mixed reviews,'' said Wayne Lewellen, head of distribution for Paramount.

Disney's G-rated ``Recess'' had the young children's market all to itself.

``The market was devoid of family films. There was a real pent-up demand,'' said Disney distribution chief Chuck Viane.

Estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday at North American theaters, according to Exhibitor Relations Co. Inc. Final figures were to be released Monday.

1. ``Hannibal,'' $30 million.

2. ``Down to Earth,'' $17.5 million.

3. ``Recess: School's Out,'' $10.8 million.

4. ``Sweet November,'' $10.6 million.

5. ``Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon,'' $8.8 million.

6. ``Traffic,'' $6.5 million.

7. ``The Wedding Planner,'' $5.7 million.

8. ``Cast Away,'' $5 million.

9. ``Chocolat,'' $4.8 million.

10. ``Saving Silverman,'' $4.3 million.