It looks like Christmas came early for Tim Allen and Buena Vista Pictures. "The Santa Clause 2" took the top spot at the box office over the weekend with its $29 million debut, according to studio estimates.
"The Santa Clause," released on November 11th, 1994, went on to earn a reported $144 million. The new sequel, which stars Allen as a budding Claus who must find a Mrs. or give up the job, enjoyed one of the earliest full-blown openings for a Christmas-oriented flick in history. By most accounts, Buena Vista released the film early to avoid competing with the upcoming "Harry Potter" sequel (see [article id="1458453"]"Can 'Harry Potter' Stars Avoid Child Actor Doom?"[/article]).
"I Spy," the weekend's other widely-released new flick, debuted at #3 with $14 million ([article id="1458460"]Click for photos from "I Spy"[/article]), right behind "The Ring" which held on to the #2 spot with $18.5 for an overall three week $64.9 million take.
Last week's #1 film "Jackass: The Movie" (see [article id="1458375"]" 'Jackass' Pushes Its Big-Screen Competitors Downhill In A Shopping Cart"[/article]), slid down to #4 with $13.1 million, for an overall take of $42.4 million ([article id="1458289"]Click for photos from the "Jackass: The Movie" premiere[/article]).
The rest of the weekend's top 10 includes "Ghost Ship" at #5 with $6.5 million ($21.2 million, two weeks); "My Big Fat Greek Wedding" — which has now surpassed "Batman Forever," "Jurassic Park III" and "Mission: Impossible" with its box office total, inflation notwithstanding — at #6 with $5.6 million ($185.2 million, 29 weeks); Reese Witherspoon's "Sweet Home Alabama" at #7 with $4.6 million (#113.5 million, six weeks); Adam Sandler's "Punch Drunk Love," moving from a small number of theaters to a much wider release, at #8 with $4.2 million ($11 million, four weeks); "Red Dragon" at #9 with $2.6 million ($88.9 million, five weeks); and "Brown
Sugar" at #10 with $1.7 million ($24.6 million, four weeks).
Rage Against the Machine video director, filmmaker and author Michael Moore's "Bowling for Columbine," which examines guns, violence and media-perpetuated fear in America, nearly cracked the top 10 for the first time, landing at #11 with $1.6 million ($4.6 million, four weeks).
All of these films will face stiff competition when Slim Shady makes his leading man debut with the semi-autobiographical "8 Mile," which hits theaters this week.
October 2002 set a record at the box-office, thanks primarily to "Sweet Home Alabama" and the Hannibal Lecter prequel "Red Dragon." The national box office generated $690.4 million, up 21% from last year's record setting $570.6
The weekend also set a new record at the video store, with the VHS and DVD release of "Spider-Man" setting a first day sales record with a combined 7 million total on Friday, knocking "Monsters, Inc." 's 4.5 million from the top spot.