Strong weekends by the entire top five may mean the slump is over
Brittany Murphy, Michael Douglas, ...

The September box office slump is now officially over. After the three slowest weekends of the year, three new films opened strongly, lifting movie receipts more than 50 percent from last week.

Leading the pack was the Michael Douglas thriller ”Don’t Say a Word,” which opened with $18 million, according to estimates. Not only does the debut mark Douglas’ best ever (beating out 1998’s ”A Perfect Murder,” which opened with $16.6 million), but it proved that in the wake of September 11’s terrorist attacks, movie audiences weren’t about to stay away from a tension-filled film just because their lives are inherently more tense lately.

Many analysts expected the goofy Ben Stiller supermodel spoof ”Zoolander” to be the weekend’s top film, thanks to its check-your-brain-at-the-door humor level. While it ended up placing second, it did also open well with $15.7 million. Both Douglas and Stiller diligently promoted their films in the past week, each duly noting how bizarre it felt to hype a popcorn flick during a national crisis.

Third place went to the feel-good movie of the week, the supernatural drama ”Hearts in Atlantis.” After successful sneak previews last weekend, the Anthony Hopkins film grossed $9.5 million, increasing nicely from Friday to Saturday. Expect ”Atlantis” to have the smallest dropoff next week.

Rounding out the top five, as expected, were last week’s top two films, Keanu Reeves’ ”Hardball” and Nicole Kidman’s ”The Others,” which earned another $5.2 and $5.1 million, respectively. The best news of all? This apparent box office streak will continue next week, with the premieres of Denzel Washington’s cop drama ”Training Day,” the John Cusack romantic comedy ”Serendipity,” and the Steve Zahn road trip thriller ”Joy Ride.”

See the latest Box Office Chart

Look at movie grades from readers and critics — and rate some yourself

Read EW’s movie reviews

Don't Say a Word
  • Movie
  • 110 minutes