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Charlie's Angels rise above Adam Sandler's devil

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Adam Sandler, Little Nicky

The crime fighting females of ”Charlie’s Angels” fended off a demonic challenge at the box office this weekend, taking in an estimated $25 million in ticket sales and holding ”Little Nicky,” the new Adam Sandler comedy about the devil’s kid, to second place. While New Line’s ”Nicky” grossed a hefty $18.1 million, the total was disappointing compared to the first weekend totals for Sandler’s last two movies, ”Big Daddy” ($41.5 million) and ”The Waterboy” ($39.4 million). ”Angels,” though, has exceeded industry expectations, and the Columbia action comedy appears to be headed for a $100 million take by Thanksgiving. ”Once you open at $40 million (as ”Angels” did) you have a huge advantage,” Jeff Blake, president of worldwide marketing for Sony (Columbia’s parent company), told the Associated Press. Though ”Nicky” received fair to savage reviews, New Line execs remain optimistic about the movie’s chances in coming weeks, arguing that young males — Sandler’s biggest fans — are likely to see his movies more than once.

Little or not, ”Nicky” fared best among the week’s new movies. ”Men of Honor” (No. 3), a biopic about the Navy’s first African American master diver, had a salute worthy Veteran’s day weekend opening, earning an estimated $14 million and reminding many critics why star Cuba Gooding Jr. earned an Oscar for ”Jerry Maguire.” Robert De Niro, who plays the hero’s racist adversary, also stars in the No. 4 movie, ”Meet the Parents.” ”Red Planet” (No. 5) featured a Sigourney Weaver style performance by Carrie-Anne Moss (”The Matrix”), but took in only $9 million. (The year’s first space shot, ”Mission to Mars,” included fewer explosions and no action heroines wearing white tank tops, but earned a total of $60 million. Go figure.) The biggest leap into the top 10 came from ”Billy Elliot” (Universal Focus), the story of a working class British boy who’s gotta dance ballet. The acclaimed comedy went into wide release in its fifth weekend, grossing $2.8 million.

CRITICAL MASS

So far, EW.com’s readers are as unenthusiastic about ”Little Nicky” as the national critics were: The first group of online voters have given it a middling C average. On the other hand, ”Men of Honor” could stand up to box office pressure next week: The first group of voters have given it an A-, and 100 percent of them plan to recommend it to friends. Fans of ”Billy Elliot” were almost as rapturous, awarding the movie an A-, with 75 percent saying they’re very likely to recommend it to friends. Though the movie has grossed just $6 million so far in its limited release, it may, like its plucky dancer hero, end up having great legs.

To vote on these and other films, go to EW.com’s Critical Mass Movie Poll.

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