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BOX OFFICE Smith adds holiday to his domination list



Published: Tue, February 15, 2005 @ 12:00 a.m.



From action star to romantic lead, Smith's prowess grows.

ZAP2IT.COM

LOS ANGELES -- Will Smith now claims the best opening ever over a Valentine's Day weekend, with his romantic comedy "Hitch" capturing $45.3 million over the weekend.

Smith previously has dominated Fourth of July weekends, with two "Men in Black" movies and "Independence Day" setting records for that holiday weekend in the past. Until "Spider-Man 2" opened to an $88 million weekend this past year, Smith had starred in the top three best Fourth of July openings ever: "MiB2" at $52 million, "MiB" at $51 million and "Independence Day" at $50.2 million.

According to Exhibitor Relations, the company that compiles box office receipts, the weekend estimates give Smith the biggest Valentine's box office ever. That honor previously was held by Ben Affleck's "Daredevil," which earned $40 million two years ago; Adam Sandler's "50 First Dates" at $39.8 million last year; and Denzel Washington's "John Q" at $20 million in 2002.

"Will Smith can clearly open any kind of movie any time of the year," says Exhibitor Relations president Paul Dergarabedian.

The strong opening also marks the third-best February opening ever, falling behind only "The Passion of the Christ" and "Hannibal."

Doing well

Another big winner over the weekend was Sony Pictures, which hit the win, place and show positions, with "Boogeyman" in second place at $10 million and "Are We There Yet?" at $8.5 million. That kind of studio domination hasn't happened in a long time. "Boogeyman" didn't drop the expected horror-genre plummet after it opened big last weekend. Falling only 43 percent, it has a $33.3 million cumulative, while the Ice Cube family comedy has $61.5 million total after four weeks.

The weekend's only other wide-release new offering, "Pooh's Heffalump Movie," opened in fifth place with $6 million for the cartoon feature.

The biggest drop in the top 10 was Debra Messing's "The Wedding Date," which fell 50 percent, from second to sixth position, with a $5.6 million weekend and a $19.5 million total.

Small indie openings fared well. "Bride and Prejudice" took in $12,000 per screening in 32 theaters for $388,000 total, while the documentary "Inside Deep Throat" earned $7,500 per screening for $91,000 total in a dozen theaters.

"The Aviator" and "Sideways," two Oscar contenders, are hanging on to spots 8 and 9, while "Meet The Fockers," which is up for no awards of note, rounded out the Top 10.




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