But the Jet Li movie could get enough repeat business to make it a long-term hit

Jet Li, Aaliyah, ...

Jet Li was a worthy opponent, but all the whip-kicks in the world couldn’t knock Julia Roberts off the top of the box office chart. ”Erin Brockovich” took No. 1 for the second week with an estimated $19 million (for a $56.3 million to-date gross). ”Romeo Must Die,” however, finished a close second with $18.6 million — and $25.1 mil since its Wednesday opening, already matching its production budget — thanks to a wide crossover audience attracted to both its martial arts and hip-hop appeal.

This weekend’s two new teen-targeted films didn’t seem to appeal to adolescents, let alone cross over adults. Leelee Sobieski’s weepy love story ”Here on Earth” crashed to earth in fifth place with $4.6 million, while the more raucous comedy ”Whatever It Takes” needed more than it had and finished sixth with $4.3 million. Beating them in the top 5 were the No. 3 ”Final Destination” ($7.1 million) and the No. 4 ”Mission to Mars” ($5.8 million.)

CRITICAL MASS ”Romeo Must Die” may have been edged out by ”Erin Brockovich” in cold hard cash, but it had a slight advantage when it came to the EW Critical Mass Movie Poll. EW readers gave ”Romeo” an average of B+ — the same as ”Erin” — but the hip-hop/kung fu film had some promising statistics that could mean Jet Li will keep on kicking up more money.

Eighty-two percent of voters said they would definitely recommend ”Romeo” to others (just a hair above the 80 percent who said the same about ”Erin”), and 59 percent said they would definitely see the film again. (Only 35 percent said the same thing about Julia Roberts’ movie, not surprising considering ”Erin” is well over two hours long.) This augers well for the kind of repeat business that could ensure Warner Bros. will soon be greenlighting ”Seriously. Kill Him! Romeo Must Die 2.”

To vote on these and other current movies, visit our EW Critical Mass Movie Poll.

Erin Brockovich

  • Movie
  • R
  • 126 minutes
  • Steven Soderbergh