Bad guys ruled the box office, with especially good word of mouth on Denzel's cop flick
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Denzel Washington, Training Day

In the closest box office race of the year, Denzel Washington barely edged out Bruce Willis for the weekend’s top slot, as ”Training Day” earned $13.6 million to ”Bandits”’ $13.5 million, according to estimates.

In its second weekend, the violent cop drama fell a respectable 40 percent from its $22.6 million opening. Usually an action film would see a bigger drop, but generally good reviews and Washington’s star power (he’s amassing major Oscar buzz for this performance) kept ”Training Day” at the top of the charts.

”Bandits,” meanwhile, was a very close second. The bank-robber comedy, costarring Billy Bob Thornton as Willis’ partner in crime (literally), played nicely in over 3,200 theaters. In fact, its $13.5 million take is right in line with Willis’ last two projects, ”Disney’s The Kid,” which debuted with $12.7 million, and ”The Whole Nine Yards,” which opened with $13.7 million.

The week’s other new comedy, Chris Kattan’s ”Corky Romano,” placed third with $9.3 million, despite horrendous critical response. Luckily, Kattan’s ”Saturday Night Live” fans don’t follow reviews, allowing ”Corky” to open similarly to the comedian’s other major film project, 1998’s ”SNL”-inspired ”A Night at the Roxbury,” which grossed $9.6 million in its first weekend.

Rounding out the top five were returning films ”Serendipity” and ”Don’t Say a Word,” both holding on impressively with $9 million and $6.8 million, respectively. ”Serendipity” only dropped 32 percent from its $13.3 million debut last week. The fine performances of these two kept the American debut of the 1993 Chinese martial-arts flick ”Iron Monkey” out of the top five; it instead managed a sixth-place start with $6 million. It may have boasted a strong advertising campaign, but action fans apparently were too well aware that this ”Monkey” was a full eight years old.

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