Once upon a time at the box office, Nicolas Cage was a sure thing and Johnny Depp made artsy films lucky to break the top 10.
A few years and "Windtalkers" and "Pirates of the Caribbean" later, quite the opposite is the case. Over the weekend, Depp and Antonio Banderas' "Desperado" sequel, "Once Upon a Time in Mexico," earned $24 million, (Click for photos from "Once Upon a Time in Mexico") nearly doubling the numbers of Cage's "Matchstick Men," which earned $13.3 million, according to studio estimates. (Click for photos from "Matchstick Men.")
The movies came in at #1 and #2, respectively, followed by another new release, "Cabin Fever," which made $8.5 million despite not having a bankable star.(Click for photos from "Cabin Fever.")
"Once Upon a Time in Mexico"'s opening weekend revenue almost matched the entire theatrical gross for "Desperado," which made $25.4 million in 1995. The movie marks Depp's second consecutive #1 debut after "Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl," which came in at #5 over the weekend with $4.6 million. In the 10 weeks it has been in theaters, the action movie based on a Disneyland ride has earned $288 million, the second best take of the year behind "Finding Nemo"'s $334 million.
It was altogether a good weekend for the box office, following the previous weekend's staggeringly low numbers. The top 12 movies grossed $73.5 million, up 45 percent from the weekend prior, which saw "Dickie Roberts: Former Child Star" at #1 with just $7 million. The David Spade comedy fell to fourth this week with $5 million.
The remainder of the top 10 finds "Freaky Friday" at #6 with $4.1 million, "Jeepers Creepers 2" at #7 with $3 million, "Open Range" at #8 with $2.8 million, "S.W.A.T." at #9 with $2.8 million and "Seabiscuit" at #10 with $2.7 million.
Sofia Coppola's "Lost in Translation," starring Bill Murray and Scarlett Johansson ("Ghost World"), opened in just 23 theaters but earned an impressive per-screen average of $39,180. The film expands next weekend to 125 theaters (see "Sofia Coppola Scores Movie, Music Coups With 'Translation' ").