While the allure of seeing Paris Hilton die was a huge draw for some, the anticipation of Orlando Bloom drawing a sword pulled a bigger crowd into theaters this weekend.
"Kingdom of Heaven," set in the 12th century during the Crusades, bowed at #1 with $20 million, according to early estimates. The epic war flick, helmed by "Gladiator" director Ridley Scott, features Bloom as a blacksmith living in Jerusalem who is thrust into battle in an effort to save his people from foreign invaders (see "The Man Who Would Be King: Can 'Kingdom Of Heaven' Put Orlando Over The Top?").
Horror flick "House of Wax" pulled in a little more than half the earnings of "Kingdom of Heaven," to debut at the #2 spot on the box-office top 10.
A remake of the 1953 film of the same name, "House of Wax" features six friends — including characters played by Hilton, Elisha Cuthbert and Chad Michael Murray — who run into murderous trouble on their way to a football game. The group gets stuck in an abandoned town where unlucky visitors get displayed in the local museum — as corpses mummified in wax (see "Elisha Cuthbert: Scream Queen"). In its opening weekend, the suspenseful feature pulled in more than $12 million.
While it couldn't hold its own against two major new releases this week, last week's #1 film, "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy," managed to beat the third new release by landing at the #3 spot. Chronicling Arthur Dent, a common man who finds out that he must hitch a ride off of Earth in order to survive, the film pulled in more than $9.1 million.
Bowing at #4 is this week's only other major new release, "Crash." The film features characters from various backgrounds and vocations — police detectives, a television director, a housewife and others — whose lives collide as the result of a carjacking (see "Ludacris' 'Crash' Inspired By Director's Carjacking, 9/11"). With a cast that includes Ludacris, Sandra Bullock, Don Cheadle, Matt Dillon and Jennifer Esposito, "Crash" pulled in $9.1 million.
Under the weight of three major new releases, "The Interpreter" dropped three spots this week from #2 to #5. The film, featuring Nicole Kidman as a U.N. interpreter who overhears a plot to assassinate an African head of state, earned $7.5 million.
The other top-10 film about a plot to kill a political bigwig, "XXX: State of the Union," similarly fell three spots, slipping from #3 to #6. The sequel, starring Ice Cube, grossed $5.4 million this week.
Rounding out this week's box-office top 10 are "The Amityville Horror," dropping from #4 to #7 with more than $3.1 million; "Sahara," slipping from #5 to #8 with $3.1 million; "A Lot Like Love," falling from #6 to #9 with more than $3 million; and "Fever Pitch," sliding from #7 to #10 with $2 million.
Overall, ticket sales were down from the corresponding weekend last year.
Next week, look for "Kicking & Screaming," "Unleashed," and "Monster-in-Law" to debut on the box-office top 10.
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