Despite a massive East Coast blizzard that kept many moviegoers out of the multiplex, Tom Cruise’s “The Last Samurai” easily won a slow weekend at the box office. The war epic, in which Cruise plays a down-on-his-luck Civil War veteran who travels to Japan and helps to train a renegade army, took in $24.4 million during its first weekend, according to studio estimates. (Click for photos from “The Last Samurai.” )
Whether it was the snow or the combination of an R-rating and two-and-a-half-hour length, “Samurai” had the worst opening weekend for the always bankable Cruise since 1999′s “Eyes Wide Shut.”
Cruise in a kimono was enough to banish the brutally reviewed Dr. Seuss’ “The Cat in the Hat” to fifth place with estimated grosses of $7.3 million. The Mike Myers-topped film has earned $85.5 million to date, less than half of what Jim Carrey’s Dr. Seuss’ “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” had earned in the same period in 2000.
Though a few critics compared its story line to Mariah Carey’s mega-bomb “Glitter,” Jessica Alba’s “Honey” debuted at #2 with $14 million, drawing a nearly 75 percent female audience for the “Dark Angel” star’s turn as an aspiring dancer. (Click for photos from “Honey.” )
Eddie Murphy’s “The Haunted Mansion” fell one spot to #3 with estimated grosses of $9.5 million, while “Elf” slipped a spot to #4 with $8.1 million, bringing its to-date total to $139.6 million. “The Matrix Revolutions” continued its descent, slipping another spot to #12 with estimated grosses of $1.3 million, shedding another 72 percent of its audience; the film has taken in just over $135 million to date.
While the top returning movies saw an average drop-off of 60 percent, the overall box office for the weekend was up 34 percent from the same period last year, with the top 12 movies taking in $91.8 million.
Rounding out the top 10 are “Bad Santa” at #6 with $7 million; “Gothika” at #7 with $5.3 million; “The Missing” at #8 with $4.4 million; “Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World” at #9 with $3.8 million and “Love Actually” at #10 with $3.7 million.