B.O. in high spirits

'Sixth Sense' wins 4th week; 'Warrior' 2nd

Touchstone/Spyglass’s “The Sixth Sense” led the box office for the fourth straight week and propelled the weekend frame to a pre-Labor Day high, almost doubling the B.O. of its closest competitor with an estimated $20.1 million.

But it was volume and strong holdover biz rather than the six freshman entries that bolstered the weekend. “Sixth Sense” again held well, thanks in part to repeat viewers and intense buzz. The Bruce Willis vehicle dipped 16% and maintained a sturdy $7,270 theater average. Currently in 2,763 venues, its cume advanced to $138.8 million.

Touchstone also nabbed the second spot with its freshman “The 13th Warrior,” cutting a $10.3 million swath. The oft-delayed period adventure (formerly tagged “Eaters of the Dead”) hit the target with young males, averaging $4,500 per engagement. But the pricey Antonio Banderas starrer is likely to lose ground quickly and figures to end its domestic run at about $35 million. “Warrior” director John McTiernan has the rare distinction of placing two pics in the top 10: “The Thomas Crown Affair” landed in sixth place.

Paramount/Lakeshore’s “Runaway Bride” improved its standing, placing third with $6.9 million. Off 26% for the frame, the romantic comedy with commercial chemistry had a $2,230 average at 3,090 theaters. It has grossed $124.5 million to date.

Universal’s “Bowfinger” landed in fourth with $6.6 million. The comic yarn of Hollywood wannabes declined by 38% for a $2,420 average from 2,732 unspoolings. Pic’s exposure has registered a $46.4 million cume.

Weekend biz ebbed approximately 12% and should generate roughly $95 million — 16% better than one year ago and the best-ever B.O. leading into the Labor Day holiday. Year-to-date cume hit $5 billion over the weekend, reaching that level 7% faster than ever before.

Warner Bros./Castle Rock’s “Mickey Blue Eyes” dropped 46% to finish fifth overall with $5.5 million. The fish-out-of-water comedy averaged $2,140 from 2,573 pizzerias and has grossed $19.8 million after 10 days in release.

MGM’s “The Thomas Crown Affair” copped a $4.7 million B.O. tally. The romantic caper definitely found a summer niche crowd, ebbing 33% at 2,095 salons for a $2,240 average. The remake has grossed $49.9 million.

Artisan’s “The Blair Witch Project” also maintained a top 10 slot, grossing $4.1 million and receding into the woods by 44%. The summer sleeper averaged $1,740 from 2,352 theaters and can claim a $127.9 million cume.

The rest of the top 10 was peppered with three debuting movies claiming virtual carbon copy box office returns and a wide range of public response.

October claimed to have a slight edge, projecting $4.2 million for Albert Brooks’ Hollywood tale “The Muse” in seventh spot. Opening in 1,262 theaters — the widest debut for a Brooks film — it contemplated a $3,340 average with urban, upscale venues providing the strongest returns.

On its heels with $4.1 million in eighth was Dimension’s “In Too Deep,” an urban cops and robbers tale headlining Omar Epps and LL Cool J. It averaged $6,150 and tallied $5.7 million over five days.

Tenth slot went to New Line’s offbeat thriller “The Astronaut’s Wife” which recorded $4 million. Mixed reviews put the ensembler into low orbit with an $1,810 average.

One trot behind, with $3 million, was the live-action version of “Dudley Do-Right” from Universal. Pic tallied a $1,670 average.

Barking up the wrong tree was Warner Bros./Woodbridge’s latest screen outing, “A Dog of Flanders.” It nabbed a $690 average and a $900,000 tally.

Incoming specialized fare was slim in quantity and commercial muscle. Miramax’s launch of a dubbed-into-English “Life is Beautiful” recorded $63,000 from 15 dates in New York and L.A. The middling $4,200 average makes it a difficult call for possible expansion.

Miramax also preemed the romance “The Very Thought of You” to a dull $30,000 at five venues, and Winstar’s non-fiction poetry fest “The Source” had a lyrical $15,000 at its solo date at Gotham’s Film Forum.

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