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''American Pie'' scores with audiences

The teen sex farce knocks ”Wild Wild West” from the No. 1 spot

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In its opening weekend, Universal’s low-budget teen comedy ”American Pie” was sweet enough to replace ”Wild Wild West” as the box office champ. Favorable reviews and hot young stars (Natasha Lyonne, Chris Klein) helped ”Pie” — the tale of four sex-starved high school seniors vying to lose their virginity before prom night — rake in $18.1 million, an impressive total considering the film’s budget was just $11 million. Not to worry about Will Smith, he’s still roping in audiences: ”Wild Wild West” surprised its many critics by earning a healthy $16.7 million its second weekend. Many industry analysts had predicted the Fourth of July action flick (which has made $76 million so far) would fizzle after mediocre reviews and negative word of mouth, but no such luck.

”Arlington Road,” the weekend’s only other opener, debuted at No. 6 with $7.4 million, tied with ”Star Wars: Episode I — The Phantom Menace.” Despite A-list stars (Jeff Bridges and Tim Robbins) and a buzz-worthy ending, ”Road” didn’t have enough drive to topple blockbuster holdovers ”Big Daddy” ($16.3 million), ”Tarzan” ($11.3 million), and ”The General’s Daughter” ($8.1 million), which rounded out the top 5.