Panic Room: Merrick Morton
April 08, 2002 at 04:00 AM EDT

In the battle of the hottie female action stars, it was Jodie over Ashley by a comfortable margin.

As expected, Jodie Foster’s ”Panic Room” held on to the No. 1 spot at the box office this weekend, grossing another $18.5 million, according to studio estimates. That’s down 39 percent from its record-breaking $30.1 million debut last week, bringing its 10-day total of $58.8 million. ”Panic” is the third film to repeat at the top slot this year, following Oscar winners ”The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring” and ”Black Hawk Down.”

That left Ashley Judd’s new thriller ”High Crimes” arriving in second place with $15 million. The courtroom drama, in which Judd and Morgan Freeman play lawyers defending Judd’s husband, debuted just higher than the pair’s previous effort, 1997’s ”Kiss the Girls.” That thriller opened with $13.2 million; taking into account inflation over the last five years, could the exact same number of moviegoers have showed up to each film’s opening?

Third and fourth place went to two word-of-mouth phenomena. The computer-animated smash ”Ice Age” declined only an amazing 20 percent in its fourth weekend, earning another $14.4 million and bringing its total to $141.4 million, easily maintaining its position as the top new film of the year. And Dennis Quaid’s family baseball drama ”The Rookie” fell an equally impressive 27 percent to $11.7 million thanks to strong reviews from critics and audiences alike.

Rounding out the top five was the collegiate comedy ”National Lampoon’s Van Wilder,” starring sitcom player Ryan Reynolds as a partying seventh-year senior. It opened with a nothing-special $7.5 million. But at least it fared better than the Tim Allen/Rene Russo comedy ”Big Trouble,” which only managed $3.7 million, no thanks to a TV ad campaign that shed absolutely no light on what the film may be about. All of a sudden, that $4.3 million ”Death to Smoochy” opening doesn’t seem so bad.

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