‘Driven’ laps field; ‘Town’ drowns

Other bows stuck at red light; 'Spy' eyes $100 mil

HOLLYWOOD — Sylvester Stallone’s racing vehicle “Driven” left a beefed up “Bridget” as well as the bowing “Town & Country” and “One Night at McCool’s” choking in its box office dust this weekend with a No. 1 opening of $13.1 million.

New Line’s long-delayed $90 million “T&C” laffer landed in seventh place with a paltry $3.1 million in 2,222 locations.

USA Films’ “McCool’s” repped another severe disappointment, with the black comedy from topliner Michael Douglas’ Further Films grossing only $2.6 million from 1,817 engagements despite hefty marketing.

Miramax/Universal’s “Bridget Jones’s Diary,” which added 311 theaters for a total of 2,532 engagements, finished No. 2 on the weekend with an estimated $7.5 million. Miramax/Dimension’s “Spy Kids” was third, grossing $5.7 million for a $93.6 million cume while pursuing the century mark.

Screen Gem’s bowing “Forsaken” — an inexpensive negative pickup for Sony — landed in the eighth spot, as the vampire pic grossed $3 million from only 1,514 screens.

Industrywide, the weekend was the poorest-grossing frame in six months at a total $66.4 million in box office, repping a 20% fall-off from the same weekend last year.

One industry insider suggested Hollywood is going through some “spring cleaning” by clearing out lesser titles in anticipation of more important looming release frames.

Weekend marked the second consecutive downbeat frame in year-to-year comparisons, and Hollywood will have to work hard next weekend if it’s to return to a winning track. Even with the anticipated huge opening for U’s “The Mummy Returns,” next weekend’s totals will face a tough comparison with a year-ago sesh marked by the $34.8 million bow of best-pic Oscar winner “Gladiator.”

Year-to-date, B.O. is still 10% ahead of the same period in 2000 with $2.25 billion in grosses.

Down ‘Town’

New Line spokesman Steve Elzer said execs were unavailable to discuss “T&C’s” weak perf. But it was obvious pic suffered from adverse publicity over its famously troubled production, which dates back three years and figured in many negative reviews.

“It was a huge disappointment for us,” Elzer allowed.

“Both Warner and Franchise are very happy to be No. 1,” said Warners distribution prexy Dan Fellman. “Sly is very happy to be back on top.”

Stallone is currently shooting another Warners/Franchise pic, “Avenging Angelo,” in which he plays a mob bodyguard.

USA distrib topper Jack Foley expressed puzzlement over the B.O. implosion of “McCool’s” and noted pic bowled over exhibs at a screening during the recent ShoWest trade show in Las Vegas.

“Given that ShoWest experience, we had been very excited,” Foley said. “It’s an enigma.”

It’s believed pic carried a negative cost of about $15 million.

Super ‘Bowl’

In a limited bow, Lions Gate’s Uma Thurman/Nick Nolte starrer “The Golden Bowl” grossed $96,000 from six Gotham and L.A. engagements for an impressive $16,000 per-theater average.

Lions Gate distrib prexy Tom Ortenberg called perf “great” considering a recently tough arthouse market. The James Ivory/Ismail Merchant period drama begins a platformed expansion May 18 with a push into top markets.

Among other specialty pics, Miramax suspenser “With a Friend Like Harry” grossed $88,489 from 11 theaters for a solid $8,044 average.

Newmarket’s amnesia thriller “Memento” remained on the minds of enough moviegoers to ring up an additional $1.3 million from 324 engagements for a $3,922 average and $6.9 million cume.

And Fox Searchlight urban laffer “Kingdom Come” grossed $2 million in 964 locations for a $2,091 average and $18.8 million cume.

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