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Moviegoers elect ''Head of State''

Moviegoers elect ”Head of State.” The Chris Rock presidential comedy beats out the two other opening weekend flicks

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Chris Rock, Head of State
Head of State: Philip Caruso

Are we too depressed to go to the movies right now? It sure seems like it, judging from the lackluster performance by this weekend’s three new releases, “Head of State,” “The Core,” and “Basic.”

Chris Rock’s presidential comedy “Head of State” debuted at the top slot with $14 million, according to studio estimates. The film, which Rock also directed, topped the $11 million his last film, “Bad Company,” earned its opening weekend last summer, but paled in comparison to the $17.3 million premiere of “Down to Earth” in 2001. In fact, a film hasn’t topped the box office with so low a total since January, when “Darkness Falls” opened with $12 million. Perhaps war-distressed movie audiences weren’t in the mood for a flick this weekend, or maybe the new offerings simply weren’t enticing.

Second place went to the Steve Martin/Queen Latifah comedy “Bringing Down the House,” which slipped only 23 percent in its fourth weekend to $12.5 million, after three weeks at No. 1. The comedy’s total now stands at $100.1 million, making it Martin’s highest-grossing film ever.

Close behind were the weekend’s two other debuts. “The Core,” a sci-fi thriller starring Hilary Swank and Aaron Eckhart, couldn’t overcome its negative reviews, opening with $12.4 million, while John Travolta’s latest action drama, “Basic,” managed only a $12.1 million take. The poor showing continues Travolta’s downward turn of late, as it earned even less than his last film, “Domestic Disturbance,” which opened with $14 million in 2001.

The news was better, however, for “Chicago,” which snagged fifth place with $7.4 million, thanks to an increased theater count after its strong showing at the Oscars, where it won six awards, including Best Picture. The musical has now earned $144.9 million, and it will soon place on the all-time 100 top grossers list. That’s something to sing about.