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AFI's Best Picture, ''Rings,'' will rule again

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Orlando Bloom, The Lord of the Rings, ...
Lord of the Rings: Pierre Vinet

Will it be one ring that rules a whole month?

With only one new wide release in theaters this weekend, look for ”The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring” to make it four straight weeks at the top of the box office, as the film continues to climb the all-time top grossers chart.

After earning $23 million last weekend, ”The Lord of Rings” should continue to rake in the bucks, hot off its Best Picture win at the American Film Institute awards. A smaller than average 30 percent drop would amount to another $16 million for the blockbuster.

No. 2 should again go to Russell Crowe’s ”A Beautiful Mind,” which scored an impressive $16.6 million in its first wide weekend. Strong word of mouth and critical response (costar Jennifer Connelly also picked up an AFI award last week) will propel the film to another good weekend. A 25 percent decline to about $13 million is in order.

The lone big new entry of the week, the Colin Hanks/Jack Black comedy ”Orange County,” will certainly bring in scores of younger fans who have already seen ”Lord of the Rings” 10 times and are looking for something else to do. And the premise here is excellent: Model student Hanks learns that his flighty guidance counselor (Lily Tomlin) sent a total loser’s Stanford University application to the school in place of his, so he must drive north to Palo Alto to plead his case. Black’s last comedy, ”Shallow Hal,” premiered with $22.5 million last November, but with all due respect, Colin Hanks is no Gwyneth Paltrow (yet). So look for this ”Orange” to ripen with about $10 million.

Rounding out the top five will be the returning hits ”Ocean’s Eleven” and ”Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius,” which should earn another $7 million and $6 million, respectively. And with the national arrival of ”Black Hawk Down” only seven days away, we promise to have some new movies to talk about really soon.

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