Sam Emerson
March 24, 2003 at 05:00 AM EST

The ”sequel money” Steve Martin joked about at the Oscars seems more likely than ever, as his lowbrow comedy with Queen Latifah, ”Bringing Down the House,” dominated the box office for the third week in a row. The movie grabbed $16.2 million, with its overall gross now approaching $84 million, according to published reports. The Stephen King adaptation ”Dreamcatcher,” which had been haunted by bad reviews, opened at No. 2 with $15.3 million, while ”Agent Cody Banks” was at No. 3 with $9.3 million.

Possibly because of the war in Iraq, grosses were down 29 percent from the same weekend last year, according to the Associated Press. But that weekend in 2002 included the popular ”Ice Age” (which went on to be the ninth highest-grossing movie of the year) and ”Blade 2,” so the comparison may not be fair.

Despite a saturation ad campaign, the much-delayed Gwyneth Paltrow comedy ”View From the Top” opened at No. 4 with $7.6 million. ”The Hunted” came in at No. 5 with $6.6 million, followed by ”Chicago,” which pulled in another $6.2 million to land at No. 6. And ”Piglet’s Big Movie” opened at No. 7 with 6.1 million, trouncing another new movie, Cuba Gooding Jr.’s ”Boat Trip,” which skidded in at No. 10 with a paltry $3.7 million. Luckily, Gooding had Sunday night’s gathering of Oscar winners to remind him of better days.

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