'Signs' Back On Top As New Films Fail To Excite

'Serving Sara' debuts at #6, 'Undisputed' at #8, 'Simone' at #9.

The "Signs" are clear — people aren’t going to the movies as much as they were a month ago. But when they do, they still want to see aliens, as the poor performance of the past weekend’s three new movies shows.

M. Night Shyamalan’s "Signs" returned to the #1 spot over the weekend with a $14.3 million take, according to studio estimates released Sunday (Click for photos from "Signs"). The Mel Gibson alien crop circle mystery about faith, loss and redemption debuted at #1 four weeks ago (see "Mel Gibson, 'Signs' Overpower Austin's Mojo") and stayed there until "XXX" came along (see "Spooky 'Signs' Can't Keep People Away From 'XXX' Action"). This past weekend "Signs" bumped the Vin Diesel action vehicle down to #2. "XXX" took in $13.7 million for a three-week total of $106.7 million (Click for photos from "XXX").

As summer winds to a close, ticket sales have dropped to pre-"Spider-Man" and "Star Wars" levels. Accordingly, studios are rolling out lower-profile pictures (many of them long dormant), presumably holding back their heavy hitters for more suitable movie seasons.

Take Eddie Murphy’s "The Adventures of Pluto Nash," for example. The sci-fi comedy, in which the "Showtime" star plays the owner of a futuristic nightclub on the moon, finished shooting in September 2000 yet didn’t hit theaters until last week, when it debuted at #10 with $2.1 million. Over its second weekend "Nash," which by most estimates cost around $100 million to make, brought in $630,000.

This past weekend’s three new widely released films were similar though less severe disappointments for their respective studios. "Serving Sara," starring Elizabeth Hurley and "Friends" staple Matthew Perry, made $6 million in its opening weekend, landing at #6.

Prison boxing drama "Undisputed," which boasts an onscreen match-up between Wesley Snipes ("Blade") and Ving Rhames ("Mission: Impossible 2") as well as appearances from Master P and former MTV personality Ed Lover, slid into the #8 spot with $4.7 million its first weekend of release.

And finally, veteran actor Al Pacino’s lighthearted celebrity-culture-skewering comedy "Simone" made $4 million to debut at #9.

Perhaps the weekend’s biggest surprise was "My Big Fat Greek Wedding," an indie comedy co-starring 'NSYNC’s Joey Fatone, moved all the way up to #4 with $7.5 million, despite the fact that it’s been in theaters since April (see "'NSYNC's Joey Fatone Talks About His Big Fat Movie"). The movie is playing on only 1,329 screens. By comparison, there are 3,517 places one can find "XXX."

The rest of the top 10 includes "Spy Kids 2: The Island of Lost Dreams" at #3 with $7.8 million ($58.5 million total in three weeks of release), surf-girl movie "Blue Crush" at #5 with $6.5 million ($26.4 million, two weeks), "Austin Powers in Goldmember" at #7 with $5.6 million ($193.9 million, five weeks) and Clint Eastwood’s "Blood Work" at #10 with $2.8 million ($20.2 million, three weeks).