For months a hotbed of controversy, "Fahrenheit 9/11" is now the hottest film in theaters.
Despite the fact that it was only projected onto screens in 868 theaters across the country — almost three times fewer than the other nine films in the box-office top 10 — "Fahrenheit 9/11" easily took the #1 spot in its opening week and broke a box-office record, according to early estimates.
With $21.8 million in ticket sales, the Michael Moore film became the first documentary ever to debut at #1, according to The Associated Press. This total would also make the film the top-grossing documentary ever, apart from concert films and movies made for IMAX theaters. The previous record was held by Moore's "Bowling for Columbine," which has taken in more than $21.5 million since it opened on October 11, 2002.
The film's opening success was aided by a two-theater opening in New York on Wednesday, June 23. "Fahrenheit 9/11" explores the war in Iraq, the way President Bush dealt with the terrorist attacks on 9/11 and the Bush family's ties to the bin Ladens and the Saudi royal family.
Dynamic duo Marlon Wayans and Shawn Wayans sashayed into the #2 spot with the slightly less intellectual "White Chicks." The comedy about two FBI agents who pose as white women for an undercover assignment brought in $19.6 million in its opening weekend.
"Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story" took a hit this week, dropping from the #1 to the #3 spot. The comedic team of Vince Vaughan and Ben Stiller came in close behind the Wayans brothers with $18.5 million in ticket sales.
Despite a decent opening weekend pull, it doesn't look like "The Terminal" will be boarding a flight to the #1 spot any time soon. The Steven Spielberg-helmed film starring Tom Hanks landed at #4 with $13.9 million.
The lone romantic film in the box office top 10 made its debut at #5 this week. "The Notebook," an adaptation of a Nicholas Sparks novel that stars "Mean Girls" actress Rachel McAdams, took in over $13 million.
"Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban" couldn't hang on to the top five and slid from #3 to #6 with over $11.4 million in ticket sales. "Shrek 2" took a three-spot fall this week as well, dropping from #4 to #7 with $10.5 million.
Rounding out the top 10 are "Garfield," coming in at #8 with $7 million; "Two Brothers," making its debut at #9 with $6.2 million; and "The Stepford Wives," which drops from #7 to #10 with $5.2 million.
Overall, box-office ticket sales were greater than those for the final weekend of June last year.
Indie flicks rule next week's schedule of new releases. Hitting theaters on Friday are the documentary "America's Heart and Soul," "Before Sunset" (the sequel to 1995's "Before Sunrise"), "The Clearing" (starring Robert Redford and Willem Dafoe), and the Kevin Kline vehicle "De-Lovely."
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