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''Toy Story 2'' edges out ''The Green Mile''

But at twice the length of the animated smash, Tom Hanks’ latest proves a definite hit

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It was a close call at the box office this weekend, but studio estimates have ”Toy Story 2” taking first place for the third weekend in a row, with $18.7 million, barely beating ”The Green Mile,” which took in $18.57 mil. This ranking could change when the final numbers are calculated on Monday, but even if ”Mile” does have to settle for a second-place sentence, it still had an electrifying debut.

Its $6,459 per-screen average was the highest for a wide release (beating ”Toy”’s $5,741), and its gross was all the more impressive considering that its three-hour running time meant it could be shown only once to every two viewings of ”Toy Story 2.”

Those who like their entertainment a little less critically acclaimed were also well accounted for at the box office; ”Deuce Bigalow: Male Gigolo” turned quite the trick, pulling in $13 million, for third place. (Rounding out the top 5 were ”The World Is Not Enough,” with $6.2 million, and ”End of Days,” with $4.7 million.)

Meanwhile, three other movies debuted in limited release: ”The Cider House Rules” took in $115,000 in only eight theaters (a $14,375 average), and ”Cradle Will Rock” grossed $94,000 on eight screens (averaging $11,750). But in case you thought that ANY movie can have a healthy per-screen average if it starts in only a few theaters, evidence to the contrary comes courtesy of Kirk Douglas’ ”Diamonds,” which only scraped together $7,500 from two screens.

CRITICAL MASS Okay: Tom Hanks, Stephen King, the director of ”The Shawshank Redemption”… did anyone think ”The Green Mile” WASN’T going to appeal to audiences? On EW’s Critical Mass Movie Poll, our readers gave it an A- (what’s the matter, Hanksy, couldn’t get a straight A?) And boding well for the film’s long-term future, 79 percent of voters said they would definitely recommend it to others, and 49 percent said they’re very likely to see it again, even at its marathon length.

Meanwhile, ”Deuce Bigalow” got a B-, a far more generous grade than critics have been giving it. Its main appeal? The TV ads, according to 42 percent of EW readers who saw it. Looks like a little narcolepsy humor went a long way to making this a sleeper hit.

You can vote on these and other current movies at EW’s Critical Mass Movie Poll.

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