''The Ring'' scares up big numbers at the box office. Naomi Watts' thriller comes in ahead of the competition

By Dave Karger
October 18, 2002 at 04:00 AM EDT
The Ring: Merrick Morton

”With this ‘Ring’ I top the box office….”

That could be what star Naomi Watts is saying right now, as her horror thriller ”The Ring” easily unseated ”Red Dragon” as the No. 1 film in the country. According to studio estimates, ”The Ring” premiered with $15 million, as scary movie fans were drawn by Watts’ growing star power and the film’s mostly positive reviews. With ”Dragon” now three weeks old and ”Ghost Ship” still a week away from theaters, ”The Ring” served as the only real choice for audiences wanting a scary flick (unless, of course, you count Madonna’s ”Swept Away”).

The race for second place was tight, but it was Reese Witherspoon’s ”Sweet Home Alabama,” slipping only 33 percent from last week to gross another $9.6 million. Its four-week total now stands at $98.5 million; within days ”Alabama” will be Witherspoon’s first $100 million-grossing film. ”Red Dragon,” meanwhile, fell from the top spot last week to No. 3, earning another $8.8 million (down 50 percent) and bringing its total to $77.8 million. At this rate, ”Dragon” will be lucky to reach $100 million.

Fourth place went to top-five fixture ”My Big Fat Greek Wedding,” which declined only 15 percent from last week to earn $7.2 million. Its total is now an amazing $169.3 million. And the Taye Diggs comedy ”Brown Sugar” snuck into fifth with $5.31 million, barely edging out the new Katie Holmes thriller ”Abandon,” which only managed a $5.3 million debut. Holmes’ disappointing take comes only a week after her ”Dawson’s Creek” costar James Van Der Beek flopped with ”The Rules of Attraction,” which opened with $2.5 million. But at least Holmes fared better than Samuel L. Jackson’s DOA thriller ”Formula 51,” which premiered with a dismal $2.9 million. You’d think moviegoers would know better not to make Jackson angry.

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