‘Signs’ tops hot ‘Greek’

Shyamalan suspenser still circling atop wilting B.O.

Labor Day auds gave the greenlight for “Signs” to park atop weekend box office rankings for a third time in its fifth frame with an estimated $16.5 million in four-day grosses.

M. Night Shyamalan-helmed suspenser first resurfaced in the No. 1 spot over the previous sesh after two weekends in second place. This frame, Mel Gibson starrer outpaced IFC Films’ surging sensation “My Big Fat Greek Wedding,” which grossed an estimated $14.6 million in the No. 2 spot, and Sony/Revolution’s fading “XXX,” which finished third with $13.1 million.

Warner Bros. opened Franchise’s horror pic “FeardotCom” to a middling $7.1 million in fifth place, one rung below Miramax/Dimension’s “Spy Kids 2,” which rung up an estimated $7.3 million in its fourth frame.

Industrywide, the holiday-stretched weekend marked an 8% decline from the same frame a year earlier with $109 million in estimated total grosses, according to B.O. tracker Nielsen EDI

It was the seventh consecutive year-over-year weekend decline in closing out summer 2002. But in a year-to-date comparison, ’02 remains 12% ahead of the same portion of last year with $6.27 billion in total grosses.

Several limited releases staged notable expansions this weekend.

‘Girl’ ninth

Fox Searchlight’s Jennifer Aniston starrer “The Good Girl” broadened to wide release and grabbed ninth place on the weekend, grossing an estimated $3.6 million from 667 theaters. And Searchlight suspenser “One Hour Photo” developed $3.3 million from just 164 locations — a boffo $20,275 per site and good for a 10th-place tie with DreamWorks’ “Road to Perdition.”

Focus’ Gwyneth Paltrow starrer “Possession” went wide this weekend and took in $2.5 million from 614 engagements, or an acceptable $4,008 per playdate with a $6.4 million cume.

Paramount Classics laffer “Mostly Martha” added 39 theaters for a total 66 and grossed an estimated $524,000 for a per-venue average of $7,937 and $890,000 cume.

Palm/Magic Lamp drama “Sex and Lucia” maintained 31 locations in grossing $11,086, or $3,551 per site with a $989,775 cume. And Magic Lamp laffer “Amy’s Orgasm” jumped to six venues from one and grossed $40,991, an average $6,832 with a $56,784 cume.

‘Party’ picks up

United Artists’ music-scene drama “24 Hour Party People” added nine theaters for a total 32 and grossed $187,000, or $5,844 per venue with a $634,000 cume.

Rainforest suspenser “Pandora’s Box’ held in 14 locations and grossed $34,791, or 2,485 per site with a $251,365 cume.

Thinkfilm’s drama “The Last Kiss” added nine engagements for a total 15 and grossed $106,000 for a $7,067 playdate average and $224,000 cume.

Cinebella’s Bollywood epic “Agnivarsha — The Fire and the Rain” grossed $21,336 from eight theaters, a $2,667 average.

And Sony Classics drama “Mad Love” wooed $31,369 from three theaters in L.A. and Gotham for a lovable $10,456 average.

‘FeardotCom’ low cost

Warners will get a distribution fee only on “FeardotCom,” which carries an estimated negative cost of under $10 million.

“It should wind up turning a nice profit for Franchise,” Warners distrib prexy Dan Fellman said.

Leggy late-summer spurt by “Signs” gives topliner his best-ever domestic perf, besting the $182.8 million in B.O. for Gibson’s 2000 romancer “What Women Want.” Pic also marked the only No. 1 three-peat this summer.

“The big movies usually get knocked off so quickly,” Mouse House distrib topper Chuck Viane observed. “So, it’s nice to have ‘Signs’ show such good legs.”

IFC marketing consultant Bob Berney said “Greek Wedding” could climb to No. 1 next weekend — its 21st sesh in release.

“And we’re looking at topping $100 million in about two weeks.”

Competish over the coming weekend includes 20th Century Fox’s suspenser “Swimfan” and Warner Bros.’ Robert De Niro starrer “City by the Sea.”

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