Monday, October 6, 2003

'School' rocks at box office

By David Germain
The Associated Press

A rock 'n' roll animal has displaced the Rock as box-office champion.

The School of Rock, with Jack Black playing a rocker posing as a substitute teacher to coach fifth graders for a battle-of-the-bands contest, earned top grades from audiences with a $20.2 million debut, according to estimates Sunday.

Out of Time, starring Denzel Washington as a police chief scrambling to prove his innocence in a double murder, opened in second place with $17 million.

The Rock's action comedy The Rundown, the previous weekend's top flick, slipped to third place with $9.8 million, lifting its 10-day total to $32.7 million.

Black, who is best known for his manic turn in High Fidelity, edged established star Washington even though School of Rock opened in fewer theaters.

"I think it has more to do with the subject matter than the stars," said Paul Dergarabedian, president of box-office tracker Exhibitor Relations. "School of Rock has a younger, school-age appeal. Black's like a big kid, like an Adam Sandler-type persona. Irreverent, funny, bucks the establishment. That brings in younger audiences."

School of Rock played well across the board, with audiences split almost evenly between men and women and those older and younger than 25, while drawing strongly on family crowds, as well, said Wayne Lewellen of Paramount, which released the movie.

Out of Time played more to moviegoers 30 and up, with women accounting for 55 percent of the audience because of Washington's sex appeal, said Erik Lomis of MGM, which released the film.

Sofia Coppola's art house hit Lost in Translation, starring Bill Murray and Scarlett Johannson, expanded to many small cities and took in a solid $4.3 million, coming in at No. 7.

Estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday at North American theaters, according to Exhibitor Relations Co. Inc. Final figures will be released Monday.

1. "The School of Rock," $20.2 million.

2. "Out of Time," $17 million.

3. "The Rundown," $9.8 million.

4. "Under the Tuscan Sun," $7.9 million.

5. "Secondhand Lions," $5.4 million.

6. "Underworld," $4.8 million.

7. "Lost in Translation," $4.3 million.

8. "The Fighting Temptations," $3.3 million.

9. "Once Upon a Time in Mexico," $2.55 million.

10. "Cold Creek Manor," $2.5 million.

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