'Hero' Conquers Satan, Snakes To Take Top Box-Office Slot

Jet Li flick takes in more than $17.8 million.

All it took to beat back Satan and an army of oversized snakes at the box office was some Zen-like concentration.

Quentin Tarantino may be the real hero of this week's #1 film, the Jet Li vehicle "Hero." The "Kill Bill" director saved "Hero" from shrinking into forgotten-movie territory by convincing Miramax to allow him to release the 2002 foreign-language film. In its opening weekend, the martial-arts flick, which takes place in ancient China, bowed at #1 on the box-office top 10 with more than $17.8 million in sales, according to early estimates.

"Anacondas: The Hunt for the Blood Orchid," the sequel to 1997's "Anaconda," slithered into the #2 spot. The film, about a group of scientists which, during its search for a flower that can lead to longer life, finds itself threatened by a bunch of bloated reptiles, took in $13.2 million.

Another group of actors lost in the wild wasn't as lucky this week. The star power of teen-movie veterans Matthew Lillard and Seth Green couldn't help keep "Without a Paddle" afloat at #2. The comedy about three friends on a treasure-hunt adventure sunk a spot to #3 with $8.7 million.

It doesn't look like "Princess Diaries 2: The Royal Engagement" will take the throne anytime soon. The flick, which stars Anne Hathaway and Julie Andrews, slipped a spot to #4 with more than $8 million.

For "Exorcist: The Beginning," the end of its residence on the top 10 might be near. Bowing at #1 last week, the prequel to 1973's "The Exorcist" took a four-spot tumble to #5 with more than $6.7 million.

"Collateral," the Tom Cruise flick about a hit man who hijacks a cab and takes its driver as collateral, turned out to be the most stable film on the top 10, holding strong at #6 for the second week in a row with $6.3 million in ticket sales. Shark-infested thriller "Open Water" dropped two notches to #7 in its fourth week in the top 10, taking in $5 million.

Rounding out the list are "Alien Vs. Predator," which falls four notches from #4 to #8 with $4.8 million; "The Bourne Supremacy," which drops two spots from #7 to #9 with $4.6 million; and "Suspect Zero," which bowed on the top 10 at #10 with $3.4 million.

Overall, ticket sales this week were up slightly from the corresponding weekend last year.

Next week, look for "Wicker Park" and "Vanity Fair" to land in the box-office top 10.

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