''Time Machine'' rakes in $22.5 million for No. 1. Ice Cube's ''All About the Benjamins'' posts a strong third-place debut
The Time Machine

It was back to the future at the box office, as ”The Time Machine” led three strong-performing films to top the charts this weekend.

The thriller, starring Guy Pearce from ”Memento” and ”The Count of Monte Cristo,” obviously appealed to fantasy fans, who lined up for the film to the tune of $22.5 million, according to studio estimates. Fantasies are certainly the hot genre of the moment, after ”Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” and ”The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring,” which became the top two films of last year. The ”Machine” numbers are especially impressive considering the movie was met with uniformly indifferent reviews.

Also performing well was Mel Gibson’s Vietnam epic ”We Were Soliders,” which fell only 29 percent from its $20.2 million opening to gross another $14.5 million. Since ”Soldiers” is a heavily adult draw, it didn’t exhibit the large dropoff of a film like ”Queen of the Damned,” which plummeted over 60 percent from week one to week two. Some more strong weekends will help ”Soldiers” approach the $75 million mark eventually.

The week’s other debut, the Ice Cube crime caper ”All About the Benjamins,” placed third as expected with a respectable $10.1 million. Without an urban film of its kind out there at the moment, the comedy was able to bring in Cube’s core fan base. Fourth place, meanwhile, went to Josh Hartnett’s romantic comedy ”40 Days and 40 Nights,” which dropped 42 percent from its $12.2 million opening, earning another $7.1 million. And Denzel Washington’s hit ”John Q” continued on its roll, grossing $6 million in its fourth week, bringing its total past $60 million. How could the news get any better from Washington? How about with an Oscar win at the end of the month?

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40 Days and 40 Nights
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