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