''Bridget Jones'' debuts strongly, but ''Josie and the Pussycats'' fails to crack the top five

By Lori Reese
Updated April 17, 2001 at 04:00 AM EDT
Spy Kids: Rico Torres

It looks like almost nothing can stunt ”Spy Kids”’s box office growth. The juvenile espionage caper grabbed the No. 1 position for a third weekend in a row with an estimated $12.8 million take. The family friendly comedy is soaring toward the century mark, grossing $68.6 million in just 17 days. Last week’s No. 2 movie, the kidnapping thriller ”Along Came a Spider” clung to second place, luring another $11.3 million from moviegoers. Both films defeated a diverse collection of Easter weekend newcomers, including the Renée Zellweger/ Hugh Grant romantic comedy ”Bridget Jones’s Diary,” the David Spade/ Kid Rock comedy ”Joe Dirt” and the teen targeted ”Josie and the Pussycats.”

”Bridget” — starring a well reviewed Zellweger as a lovelorn Londoner — debuted strongly at No. 3 with $10.8 million. (Its opening weekend earnings in the U.K, $8.6 million, set a box office record there.) Much of ”Bridget”’s domestic audience was composed of female fans of Helen Fielding’s bestseller. But audience surveys indicate that it also has crossover appeal, which analysts say bodes well for the adaptation’s success. ”It’s definitely not at the top of the list of films a guy usually wants to see,” John Shaw, president of box office tracking firm Movieline International told EW.com. ”But the men who see the movie are saying that they really enjoy it.”

Spade’s ”Joe Dirt” bowed at No. 4, with an $8.2 million take. The bad hair and no brains comedy debuted Wednesday to get a jump on the holiday weekend — but earned just $11.1 million in five days. The Johnny Depp/ Penélope Cruz cocaine saga ”Blow” rounded out the top five with $8 million. Meanwhile ”Josie and the Pussycats” landed in seventh place with a dismal $5.2 million. The adaptation of the 1970s cartoon series also debuted Wednesday — but scratched up a meager $7.2 million five day total. ”It’s a little soft, but these things happen,” Nikki Rocco, head of distribution for ”Josie”’s distributor, Universal, told the Associated Press. ”It’s an inexpensive film, so hopefully we won’t get hurt too badly on this investment.”

CRITICAL MASS ”Bridget Jones” was No. 3 at the box office, but No. 1 in the hearts of EW.com readers. Zellweger’s portrayal of the beloved British singleton earned a solid B+ from voters, slightly higher than the critics’ average of B. Perhaps more importantly, 75 percent of voters said that ”Bridget” was better than they had expected, which means that most folks were not disappointed by the adaptation of Fielding’s quirky novel. Indeed, an exuberant 95 percent of voters said they would recommend the romantic comedy to friends.

”Joe Dirt” earned more plaudits from readers than critics. Overall voters have scored the Spade comedy a B+, far higher than the critics average of C. More than half say the film is better than they had expected and that they will recommend the mullet man’s adventures to friends. ”Josie,” however, may not be long for the spotlight. Voters gave the girl power flick a C+, and about one third indicate that they will not recommend the movie to friends. So much for being the cat’s meow.

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