Given the choice between falling in love and going to hell this weekend, the majority of moviegoers opted for the more romantic excursion.
Love was in the air again as "Hitch" took the #1 spot for the second weekend in a row. The romantic comedy, which stars Will Smith as a "date doctor" who helps otherwise romantically inept men find their inner player, took in $36.5 million, according to early estimates.
Spots two through four on the top 10 were occupied by new releases, with Keanu Reeves' "Constantine" leading the pack at #2 on more than $34.6 million in ticket sales. The thriller, based on the DC/ Vertigo comic book "Hellblazer," centers on a detective named John Constantine (Reeves) who joins forces with a policewoman (Rachel Weisz) to solve the mystery surrounding her sister's suicide.
"Because of Winn-Dixie," the more family-oriented flick about a young girl who adopts a dog she finds at a supermarket, bowed at #3 with $13.2 million. In the feel-good movie that features Dave Matthews in his first big-screen role, the pup (named Winn-Dixie after the supermarket where he was found) helps the girl make friends in her new town.
"Son of the Mask," the sequel to the 1994 Jim Carrey film "The Mask," debuted at #4. Jamie Kennedy plays aspiring cartoonist Tim Avery, who is forced to protect a baby that has found the Mask of Loki and, as a result, has the ability to take on shape-shifting powers. The follow-up flick, which also stars Alan Cumming (but no Jim Carrey), took in $10.1 million.
With the onslaught of new releases, Ice Cube's "Are We There Yet?" slipped down from #3 to #5 this week. The film, about a player who takes on the responsibility of shuttling around the kids of the woman he's chasing, took in $8.1 million.
As the one-week countdown to the Oscars begins, "Million Dollar Baby" still holds court over "The Aviator," at least in the box-office top 10. The boxing flick about a coach (Clint Eastwood) who reluctantly takes on a female boxer (Hilary Swank) as a trainee, dropped from #4 to #6 and brought in more than $7.7 million.
Rounding out the top 10 this week are the fright flick "Boogeyman," which took a nosedive from #2 to #7 with $6 million; "Pooh's Heffalump Movie," which dropped from #5 to #8 with more than $5.4 million; "The Aviator," which slid from #8 to #9 with more than $5 million; and "Sideways," which, after 18 weeks in theaters, fell from #9 to #10 with $4.9 million.
Overall, ticket sales were up significantly from the corresponding weekend last year.
Next week, look for "Man of the House" to debut in the box-office top 10. Also opening next week is "Diary of a Mad Black Woman."
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