(The Daily Texan Online)

‘XXX’ hits the No. 1 spot at this weekend’s box office

LOS ANGELES – In a big weekend for espionage, a tattooed secret agent, two underage spies and a shagadelic sleuth from the past took three of the top five spots at the box office.

XXX, an extreme reworking of the Bond genre, starring Vin Diesel, finished on top with $46 million, according to studio estimates Sunday.

Spy Kids 2: The Island of Lost Dreams was third with $17 million, and Austin Powers in Goldmember, remained groovy with audiences, finishing fourth with an estimated $13 million for a three-week total of $167.8 million.

Signs, the Mel Gibson frightener about aliens and crop circles, dropped into second place with $30 million, for a two-week total of $118 million.

The new Clint Eastwood film Blood Work opened in fifth place with a modest $7.2 million.

Despite big numbers for the top films, overall box office numbers remained lower than the same weekend a year ago, said Paul Dergarabedian, president of box office tracker Exhibitor Relations.

The weekend did prove that Vin Diesel is Hollywood’s next big action star, Dergarabedian said.

“This guy can open a movie, and he has strong appeal to teens and early twenty-somethings, who are the target audience in the summer,” he said.

Helping the strong showing for XXX was its PG-13 rating and the fact that it was an original film in a summer full of sequels, said Tom Sherak, a partner at Revolution Studios, which released the film in conjunction with Sony Pictures.

A sequel to XXX is already in the works, targeted for a summer 2004 opening, he said.

One sequel, Spy Kids 2, did especially well considering that most tickets were sold at reduced prices for children, Dergarabedian said.

The film was drawing positive reviews and strong audience response, said David Kaminow, a senior vice president at Miramax, parent company of Dimension Films, which released the movie.

While the numbers for Blood Work were relatively low, the film is aimed at an older audience that doesn’t always turn out on opening weekend, Dergarabedian said.

With no blockbusters waiting in the wings, the mid-August releases should continue to do well at the box office.

The Good Girl, starring Jennifer Aniston, did near record business in very limited release, said Steve Gilula, president of distribution for Fox Searchlight.

The darkly comic story of a discount store clerk who falls into an illicit affair earned $148,000 over the weekend in just four theaters – two in New York and two in Los Angeles. It was the biggest U.S. opening by an independent film in more than a year, Gilula said.

The Good Girl will expand to 18 additional cities this week.

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

-The Associated Press

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