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''Next Friday'' and ''Down to You'' top the box office

Teen films reign again, while ”Play It to the Bone” takes a dive

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It’s been a long, cold winter for people looking for empty-headed moviegoing. But this weekend there was finally some mindless fun mixed in with the serious Oscar hopefuls, and it paid off. The two-week-old ”Next Friday” took in another $8.0 million (for a total of $31.8 million), and the latest Freddie Prinze Jr. sensitive-hunk-finds-love flick, ”Down to You,” took a close second with $7.6 million. But looking at the per-screen averages, ”Next Friday” had an even bigger triumph, averaging $6,809, compared to ”Down to You”’s $3,856. The rest of the top 5 were all December holdovers: ”The Hurricane” ($6.5 million), ”Stuart Little” ($6.4 million), and ”The Green Mile” ($5.4 million).

”Play It to the Bone” was the only other major opening this weekend, and boy did it get played. It debuted in ninth place with $3.4 million, making for a $2,185 per-screen average. ”Angela’s Ashes” finally expanded out of limited release, and though it only captured 10th place with $3.2 million, it was played on fewer than half the number of screens as ”Bone,” giving it a much more honorable $5,245 average. No such luck with ”Cradle Will Rock,” though, which expanded without anybody noticing, taking in only an estimated $600,000, for an average of $1,185. And that’s no one’s definition of ”Rock”ing.

To grade these and other current movies, visit our online Critical Mass Movie Poll.