Cradle 2 the Grave: Claudette Barius

''Cradle 2 the Grave'' tops the box office. ''Old School'' hangs in at No. 2; ''Daredevil'' drops to third

March 03, 2003 at 05:00 AM EST

It’s the pun being written across the country: “Cradle 2 the Grave” buried the competition at the box office this weekend, premiering with $17.1 million, according to studio estimates.

The action thriller, starring martial arts expert Jet Li and rap star DMX, was the only new wide release in theaters this weekend, and took full advantage. Still, its $17.1 million take is a bit less than the openings of recent Jet Li or DMX films, like “Exit Wounds” ($18.5 million), “The One” ($19.1 million), and “Romeo Must Die” ($18 million).

Close behind in second place was the buddy comedy “Old School,” which slipped only 21 percent to $13.9 million in its second week. Starring Will Ferrell, Luke Wilson, and Vince Vaughn, “School” has earned $37.2 million in its first 10 days. Its strong hold allowed it to remain at No. 2 while last week’s top film, “Daredevil,” fell 39 percent to $11 million, bringing its total to $84.1 million.

Another film that’s been performing impressively since its opening is the Kate Hudson romance “How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days,” which declined only 13 percent to $10.1 million. After four weeks, the comedy has grossed $77.5 million; by comparison, the recent romances “Two Weeks Notice” and “Maid in Manhattan” were up to $79 million and $76.3 million at the same point in their release. In other words, given the right vehicle, Hudson is as big a draw as Sandra Bullock and Jennifer Lopez.

And it was quite the weekend for “Chicago.” On Saturday, the film’s director, Rob Marshall, picked up the Directors Guild Award for his work on the film, upsetting the likes of Martin Scorsese. The same day, the musical crossed the $100 million mark, as part of its $8.1 million weekend take. Its total is now $105.2 million, which translates to a whole lot of razzle-dazzle.

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