Heaven and Hell put up a strong fight at this weekend's box office, but in the end, love was triumphant for the second week in a row.
Last week's #1, the Will Smith-Eva Mendes romantic comedy "Hitch," faced strong competition at theaters from the latest of the graphic novels brought to life on screen ("Constantine"), a sequel to the film that jump-started Jim Carrey's film career ("Son of the Mask"), and an unusually talented dog that brings a family together ("Because of Winn-Dixie").
It was a close race to the finish, but in the end, love beat out the supernatural forces of "Constantine," to give "Hitch" a second round in the #1 slot for the weekend. But just barely.
With overall business increased by the U.S. Presidents Day holiday on Monday, "Hitch" earned about $31.8 million for the three days beginning Feb. 18, while the Keanu Reeves-Rachael Weisz starrer "Constantine" opened at No. 2 with $30.5 million.
"Because of Winn-Dixie," the heartwarming family picture starring Jeff Daniels, Annasophia Robb and Dave Matthews, came in a distant third with $10.8 million, and the week's other new big release, "Son of the Mask," the "Mask" sequel starring Jamie Kennedy, Traylor Howard and Alan Cumming, opened further behind in fourth with $7.67 million.
"Hitch" may very well have a third shot at the #1 title next week, with the strongest competition coming from the Friday release of the Wes Craven-directed lycanthrope horror film, "Cursed," starring Christina Ricci, Skeet Ulrich and Joshua Jackson. The combination of horror and teen stars has proved a formidable opponent is recent box office battles.
Other new releases of note debuting next week are "Man of the House," a comedy starring Tommy Lee Jones and Cedric the Entertainer as FBI agents assigned to guard a bunch of cheerleaders that include Christina Milian, and the little-publicized "Diary of a Mad Black Woman," a film starring Kimberly Elise, Steve Harris and Cicely Tyson that has been likened to a cross between "How Stella Got Her Groove" and "Steel Magnolias." I predict that "Man of the House" may crack the Top Ten next week since it's new, but "Diary of a Mad Black Woman" will have to earn its keep via word of mouth.
Here is the U.S. box office Top Ten, along with estimated gross receipts, for the weekend of February 18, 2005:
1. Hitch ($31.8M)
2. Constantine ($30.5M)
3. Because of Winn-Dixie ($10.8M)
4. Son of the Mask ($7.67M)
5. Million Dollar Baby ($7.19M)
6. Are We There Yet? ($6.5M)
7. Boogeyman ($5.5M)
8. Pooh's Heffalump Movie ($4.41M)
9. The Aviator ($4.17M)
10. Sideways ($3.9M) (review)