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''Blade 2'' is the weekend's surprise winner

”Blade 2” is the weekend’s surprise winner. ”Ice Age” and ”E.T.” take a backseat to the Wesley Snipes sequel

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Blade II

”Blade 2” sliced and diced box office predictions, pulling in an estimated $33.1 million to land at No. 1 in another weekend of unusually robust early-spring grosses. The sequel almost doubled the $17.1 million first-week take of 1998’s ”Blade,” which introduced Wesley Snipes as the half-man, half-vampire Marvel Comics hero. And with the character now an officially successful franchise, expect a fast greenlight for ”Blade 3.”

The animated hit ”Ice Age,” which was expected to spend a second week in the top spot, was instead bumped to No. 2, with $31.1 million in ticket sales, according to Exhibitor Relations (the film set a March release record with a $47.9 million debut last weekend). Despite missing No. 1 this time, ”Ice Age”’s continued strong showing is more good news for Fox’s burgeoning animation efforts.

In third place was the much-hyped 20th anniversary re-release of ”E.T. The Extra Terrestrial,” which grossed $15.1 million — roughly one-third of what the original ”Star Wars” earned in its 1997 re-release. The weekend’s earnings push ”E.T.”’s total gross to $414.9 million, where it remains the fourth-highest earning film of all time, but is closing on ”Star Wars: Episode I — The Phantom Menace” ($431.1 million).

The newly released comedy ”Sorority Boys” failed to find an audience, earning only $4.2 million and landing at No. 9. The rest of the top 10: ”Showtime” at No. 4, ”Resident Evil” at No. 5, ”We Were Soldiers” at No. 6, ”The Time Machine” at No. 7, ”A Beautiful Mind” at No. 8 and ”40 Days and 40 Nights” at No. 10.

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