U laffer's repeat puts B.O. on record pace

Universal delivered another “Pie” in the face of box office competish, as its young-skewing sequel laffer repped the first repeat No. 1 perf in 12 frames over a weekend that bolstered prospects that this summer will make the record books.

In a substantial 53% drop from the previous frame, “American Pie 2″ dished up $21.4 million in its soph sesh. In outpacing three openers and all other repeat players, “Pie 2″ managed what no other pic has since Disney’s “Pearl Harbor” followed a boffo Memorial Day weekend bow by defeating all comers again in its second weekend.

“It’s a fun film,” U distrib topper Nikki Rocco said of “Pie 2.” “There’s a genuine sweetness about it that’s obviously working.”

Industrywide, the weekend’s $110 million in total B.O. repped a 9% improvement over the same sesh last year, according to data from B.O. tracker ACNielsen EDI. With $5.29 billion in total grosses so far, 2001 is also ahead 9% in a year-to-date comparison.

The season is outpacing the same period of summer 2000 by an even more robust 11%. At $2.64 billion in total B.O. so far, this summer is on track to outdistance not only last swimsuit season but also 1999’s record summer.

In the latest weekend, New Line’s Chris Tucker/Jackie Chan starrer “Rush Hour 2″ kicked its way to No. 2 for the second straight frame with an estimated $19.2 million in its third outing. Action-comedy sequel moved cume to $164.8 million.

Among openers, Paramount’s “Rat Race” laffer dashed to No. 3 with an estimated $11.8 million.

String broken

But Universal’s WWII romancer “Captain Corelli’s Mandolin” fell flat with $7.1 million bow in sixth place, and Jesse James Western “American Outlaws” from Warner Bros. was outgunned with only $4.8 million in eighth place.

“Rat Race,” a modestly budget ensemble production from Jerry and Janet Zucker (“Airplane”), skewed 60% male with auds evenly split over and under age 25.

“Captain” was made for an estimated $57 million, with U and corporate cousin Canal Plus shouldering two-thirds of the costs and foreign distrib partner Miramax covering the other third. U’s Rocco predicted “Captain” still “will have a life,” as Nicolas Cage/Penelope Cruz starrer skews to older auds who take longer to support pics.

On modestly budgeted “Outlaws,” Warners was strictly a hired gun, receiving a fee from producer Morgan Creek for distribbing the young-skewing pic.

“We’re obviously disappointed in the results,” Warners distrib topper Dan Fellman said.

A $4.3 million perf for “Jurassic Park III” in its fifth frame gave U three of the weekend’s top 10. Dino sequel grabbed ninth place in chasing domestic cume to $168.2 million.

Meanwhile, several platformed pics rode positive recent critical reception to successful expansions this weekend.

‘Deep’ dish

Fox Searchlight’s drama “The Deep End,” whose bicoastal bow last sesh was heated by a rave New Yorker review, dove into 52 more venues for a total 58 in grossing $657,000, or an Olympic $11,328 per site. Murder yarn, which moved 12-day cume to $1 million, unspools in 50 additional markets next weekend.

Miramax/Dimension suspenser “The Others” added 475 engagements for a total 2,153, as Nicole Kidman starrer found fourth place with an estimated $10.8 million. Perf, which follows especially good notices for topliner, moved cume to $32 million.

United Artists’ well-reviewed black comedy “Ghost World” added 20 theaters for a total 54 in grossing $437,000, or a riveting $8,101 per venue. Cume revolved to $1.9 million a week before “World” adds eight markets.

Miramax’s lauded “Apocalypse Now Redux,” an extended version of Francis Ford Coppola’s Vietnam War classic, added 32 playdates for a total 50 in grossing $470,000, or a well-armed $9,400 per location. Cume reached $1.2 million.

Artisan mob laffer “Made” made $375,000 in 161 theaters — up 33 from a week ago — for an average $2,329 per venue and $3.7 million cume.

‘Inch’ ahead

Fine Line’s transsexual musical “Hedwig and the Angry Inch” toured an additional 20 locations for a total 70, belting out $255,000, or $3,643 per site, in raising cume to almost $1.6 million.

IDP/Fireworks’ seniors love story “Innocence” grossed $19,000 in two Gotham venues. Pic expands to L.A. on Aug. 31. First Look’s “Bread and Tulips” laffer reaped $151,222 in expanding seven theaters to 22, for a $5,800 average and $488,981 cume.

And Paramount Classics’ “American Rhapsody,” a Cold War refugee drama from helmer Eva Gardos, grossed $38,000 in expanding to 12 theaters from seven. That was good for a $3,167 average and $99,000 cume.

Next weekend will see the wide release of several new pics, including Miramax laffer “Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back.” Pic’s sneaks this weekend were more than 70% full, skewed 60% male and drew primarily 18- to 29-year-olds.

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