Audiences returned for a sizable second helping of Anthony Hopkins in ”Hannibal” over the President’s Day weekend. The ”Silence of the Lambs” sequel topped the box office with an estimated $35.5 million take. In just 11 days of release the R rated feature has racked up $109.4 million — making it the first film opening in 2001 to surpass the century mark. ”All the other films opening this weekend were just playing for seconds,” Robert Bucksbaum of box office tracking firm Reel Source told EW.com.
Of course, ”Hannibal”’s seconds aren’t too bad. All three of this week’s newcomers — ”Down to Earth” (No. 2, $20.1 million), ”Recess: School’s Out” (No. 3, $13.1 million), and ”Sweet November,” (No. 4, $11.7 million) — debuted with healthy numbers. As expected, Chris Rock’s ”Earth” floated well above this weekend’s competing Keanu Reeves/ Charlize Theron romance ”Sweet November,” largely because of Rock’s star power and appeal to those too young for ”Hannibal.” ”[‘Earth’] is the only film out of all the openers that appeals directly to young adults,” said Bucksbaum. ”Plus, Chris Rock instantly adds a lot to the box office, whereas not as many people want to see Keanu Reeves in a romantic comedy. If this was ‘Matrix II,’ though, Reeves would give ‘Hannibal’ a run for its money.”
Meanwhile, ”Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” (No. 5) got a boost from Tuesday’s announcement of its Best Picture nomination. The subtitled martial arts flick earned another $11 million, bringing its total to $73.7 million, the highest ever for a foreign language film.
CRITICAL MASS If EW.com’s readers poll is any indication, Rock was a clever casting choice for ”Earth.” A hefty 74 percent of readers say they saw the ”Heaven Can Wait” remake for its star. But even if they flocked to theaters to see the comedian in his first leading role on the big screen, they left feeling less than satisfied. Overall voters gave the film a middling B- (critics have yet to weigh in with their grades), and 41 percent said they were unlikely to see the movie again. More ominously, less than half said that they would recommend the movie to friends.
Meanwhile, voters were slightly more pleased with ”Sweet November.” Overall, they also scored the tearjerker a B- (far better than the critics’ average of D). But 50 percent indicated that they are very likely to return to theaters to see the Theron/ Reeves combo again. And more than half said they would recommend the movie to friends. However, some of us might still want to hold out for ”Matrix II.”