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''Meet the Parents'' tops the box office again

”Blair Witch 2” debuts with a lower than expected $13.1 million gross

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Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2
Blair: Abbot Genser

Industry watchers really got a shock this weekend, as ”Meet the Parents” topped the box office again with an estimated $15.1 million take. The Ben Stiller/ Robert De Niro father in law from hell comedy is the first film to land in the No. 1 spot four weekends in a row since 1999’s August megahit ”The Sixth Sense.” Industry analysts predicted that ”Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2” would cast the top fiscal spell over audiences in its opening days. Instead, the $15 million sequel to last year’s surprise $60,000 blockbuster grossed about $13.1 million for a No. 2 debut. ”I guess you can fool moviegoers once, but they won’t go for it a second time,” Robert Bucksbaum of tracking firm Reel Source told the Associated Press.

The rest of the top five was dominated by familiar titles. ”Remember the Titans” held onto third place ($8 million), while last week’s No. 2 flick ”Bedazzled” lost more than 40 percent of its audience, tumbling to No. 4 ($7.7 million). The schmaltzy martyr tale ”Pay It Forward” rounded out the top five ($6.9 million). Meanwhile, another would be big debut, John Travolta and Lisa Kudrow’s ”Lucky Numbers,” opened at No. 7 with $4.6 million — much to the chagrin of its distributor, Paramount. ”We’re definitely disappointed,” said Rob Friedman, vice chairman of the studio. ”We felt it was the sort of offbeat, dark comedy that audiences would embrace, and they didn’t.” Or, maybe we were just afraid that Travolta would still be wearing those goofy dreadlocks.

CRITICAL MASS Industry watchers may have thought that ”Book of Shadows” would enthrall audiences, but its disappointing No. 2 debut came as no surprise to EW.com readers. The bigger budget sequel earned a mediocre C from voters — only slightly better than the critics’ average grade of C-. Moreover, it looks as though the future for this flick is pretty shadowy. Some 59 percent of voters indicated that they are unlikely to see the movie again, and a deadly 54 percent said that they would definitely NOT recommend the thriller to friends.

Suffering an even worse fate than ”Shadows” was the Travolta/ Kudrow comedy ”Lucky Numbers.” Overall, EW.com readers marked the movie a C-. This only looks fortunate when compared to the critics’ average of D. Meanwhile, a whopping 64 percent of voters said that they wouldn’t want to see the film again, while more than half said they wouldn’t recommend it to friends. Talk about unlucky numbers.