Staking Its Claim
In the bloodiest box office clash in recent weeks, Blade captured $17.1 million, blasting Saving Private Ryan out of the No. 1 berth. The R-rated Wesley Snipes thriller (based on a vampire-hunting Marvel Comics character) performed way beyond insiders’ expectations and bested the first-weekend tallies of Snipes’ last two action films, U.S. Marshals (which opened at $16.9 million) and Murder at 1600 ($8 million). It couldn’t, however, trounce Spawn, New Line’s 1997 superhero extravaganza, which debuted last August with $21.2 million and, significantly, was rated PG-13. Of the week’s other new wide releases, Dead Man on Campus and Dance With Me opened uneventfully, while Wrongfully Accused failed to even crack the top 10. The weekend’s biggest washout by far, though, was The Avengers, which not only got bounced to No. 10 in its second week but also dropped an astounding 64 percent.