The Jim Carrey Christmas flick is on track to become the highest grossing film of the year

By Lori Reese
Updated December 26, 2000 at 05:00 AM EST

”Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas” topped the box office for the fourth weekend in a row, racking up an estimated $18.5 million. The Jim Carrey Christmas flick has made off with an impressive $195.5 million total, putting it on track to beat ”Mission: Impossible 2” as the top grossing film of 2000. The movie has already sneaked up to the $200 million mark two weeks earlier than the summertime Tom Cruise blockbuster. ”It just shows the power of ‘The Grinch,”’ Exhibitor Relations distribution prez Paul Dergarabedian told the Associated Press. ”It’s the quintessential holiday story, and people are in the mood for that. They’ll be the ones seeing it again over Christmas.”

Of this week’s three new popcorn flicks, the mountain climbing saga ”Vertical Limit” (No. 2) reached the highest summit, pulling in about $16 million. The much gabbed about Meg Ryan/ Russell Crowe kidnapping thriller ”Proof of Life” (No. 3) negotiated $10.5 million out of its stars’ recent tabloid fame. ”Unbreakable” (No. 4) pulled in $7.5 million, beating the weekend’s lowest scoring newcomer, ”Dungeons and Dragons,” which rounded out the top five with a $7 million take. Meanwhile, Ang Lee’s martial arts romance ”Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” leaped out the gate in limited release, earning a kickass $686,657 on just 16 screens.

CRITICAL MASS Of this week’s three major new releases, ”Vertical Limit” seems to have come closest to readers’ Everest like expectations. Voters scored the mountain climbing tale a solid B+, slightly better than the critics’ average of B-. Some 61 percent of readers said the vertiginous flick was even better than expected, while a healthy 72 percent indicated that they will recommend the film’s panoramic views to friends.

The Crowe/ Ryan action saga ”Proof of Life” earned a B- from readers, right on par with the critics’ overall grade. Not surprisingly, some 52 percent of those who voted say they saw the film for its steamy stars, giving further proof to every film studio’s philosophy of life: There’s no such thing as bad press.

”Dungeons and Dragons,” the role playing game adaptation, looks like it may be headed for the shackles: Readers gave the teen targeted film a mediocre grade of C+. (Critics have yet to weigh in with their opinions.) By contrast, the Chinese language Michelle Yeoh/ Chow Yun-fat art house action film ”Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” earned ecstatic A+’s across the board, and nearly all voters indicated they will recommend the romance to friends. But it’ll probably be a while before Qing Dynasty hairdos start showing up on ”TRL.”