The Rock lays the smackdown on the box office. But despite big numbers Dave Karger says it can't compete with the success of ''The Scorpion King''

By Dave Karger
Updated September 26, 2003 at 04:00 AM EDT

The Rock rolled to the top of the box office charts this weekend, as “The Rundown” premiered with $18.5 million, according to studio estimates.

“Rundown,” costarring “American Pie” cutup Seann William Scott and the always quirky Christopher Walken, easily scored the No. 1 spot thanks to its heavy-duty action scenes, but the film opened with only about half of the tally of the former wrestler’s previous film, “The Scorpion King,” which debuted with $36.1 million in 2002. “Scorpion,” of course, was billed as a spinoff of the hugely popular “Mummy” franchise, which helped it to open big.

Second place was a virtual tie between two films. Diane Lane’s airy chick flick “Under the Tuscan Sun” managed a $9.4 million debut, thanks to its fantastic $7,672 per-theater average, the highest in the top 10. And last week’s top film, the dark thriller “Underworld,” plummeted 57 percent as expected, also to $9.4 million.

Rounding out the top five were the family-friendly “Secondhand Lions,” which slipped only 32 percent to $8.3 million; and Cuba Gooding Jr.’s comedy “The Fighting Temptations,” which took a more hefty dive of 45 percent to $6.5 million. But they both performed well enough in their second weekend to keep Ben Stiller and Drew Barrymore’s new comedy, “Duplex,” out of the top five. Thanks to universally poor reviews and an extended shelf life, “Duplex” premiered with only $4.4 million. No one involved with this film will be buying any fab real estate off those grosses.

The Fighting Temptations

  • Movie
  • PG-13
  • 123 minutes
  • Jonathan Lynn