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Horny hijinks heat up B.O.

Zit hit sequel bums 'Rush';'Others' smothers 'Jones'

With New Line’s “Rush Hour 2” stuck in summer traffic this weekend, Universal’s “American Pie 2” gorged itself on an estimated $45.1 million in box office fast food in the best bow ever for an R-rated laffer.

Second helpings of U’s “Pie” franchise, though critically lamented, moved New Line’s action laffer to second place in the B.O. chow line, as “Rush Hour 2” dropped a big 53% to an estimated $31.5 million in its soph sesh. Fall-off marked the 10th consecutive sesh in which the previous weekend’s No. 1 pic failed to hold onto B.O. supremacy.

In contrast with the “Rush Hour 2” crash, Disney’s G-rated “The Princess Diaries” booked a modest 38% drop. Julia Andrews starrer shrugged off unusually thick end-of-season competish, including a “Spy Kids, Special Edition” release from corporate cousin Miramax/Dimension, for a regal $14.1 million in third place. The spesh “Spy Kids” — out of the top 10 with a paltry $1.4 — was so invisible one has to question whether the strategy of hyping pic’s September homevid debut was worth re-release’s estimated $5 million investment. With 1,676 engagements, “Kids” redux averaged a piddling $847 per venue.

‘Others’ scares up auds

Miramax/Dimension did much better with its other opener, “The Others,” as the well-reviewed Nicole Kidman suspenser grossed an estimated $13.7 million at No. 4. Miramax split costs on the estimated $17 million production about evenly with Spanish partner Las Producciones del Escorpion.

Warner Bros.’ bowing “Osmosis Jones” continued an abysmal recent track record for animation and live-action mixes (remember February’s “Monkeybone?”) with $5.6 million in seventh place. “Unfortunately, it just fell through the cracks,” distrib prexy Dan Fellman said. Bobby and Peter Farrelly, Hollywood’s supposed kings of gross-out comedy, were among producers and directors on “Osmosis,” whose negative cost was at least $70 million.

Industrywide, the weekend’s $157 million in total grosses repped a 43% improvement over the same frame a year ago, according to data from B.O. tracker ACNielsen EDI. Boffo sesh also puts summer 2001 10% ahead of the last swimsuit season and 5.5% ahead of 1999’s record summer. And perf means ’01 is more than 8% ahead of 2000 in a year-to-date comparison.

U goes 4-for-4

Meanwhile, the “Pie” bow was big enough to virtually assure U of moving to the top of this year’s B.O. marketshare heap when official numbers are updated this week. It also repped the fourth consecutive No. 1 bow for U, which ended last year with a highly unusual five-in-a-row perf.

“Going back to the first sleeper-hit, ‘American Pie’ set up the success of this one,” U distrib prexy Nikki Rocco observed.

Elsewhere, Miramax continued to impress with its other current release — which like the spesh “Kids” features never-before-seen footage — a little Vietnam War pic called “Apocalypse Now Redux.” The extended version of Francis Ford Coppola’s classic grossed $347,000 in 19 theaters for a spectacular $19,323 average and $525,000 cume a week before expanding to top-20 markets.

Fox Searchlight’s murder drama “The Deep End” dove into six Gotham and L.A. venues and hauled back $140,487 this weekend for an Olympic-sized $23,415 average and $196,928 cume after a Wednesday bow. Pic expands into 50 theaters in top-10 markets Friday.

Searchlight’s black comedy “Sexy Beast” approached a $6 million cume by grossing another $198,000 from 129 engagements in its eighth weekend. And Artisan mob laffer “Made” made $430,000 from 129 playdates in its fifth frame of release to move its cume to $3.1 million.

Paramount Classics’ opened its Cold War refugee drama “American Rhapsody” in seven Gotham and L.A. theaters and grossed $42,000 for a $6,000 per-venue average. United Artists’ black comedy “Ghost World” spun another $350,000 from 34 locations for a full-blooded $10,261 average and $1.3 million cume.

Fine Line’s transsexual musical “Hedwig & the Angry Inc” measured $250,000 in expanding four venues to a total 50. That marks a per-venue average of $5,000 a week before pic’s skedded expansion to more than 80 playdates and moves cume to almost $1.2 million.

Firstlook’s “Bread and Tulips” laffer sprouted $145,000 after expanding to 20 venues from one, for a fragrant $7,250 average and $180,000 cume.

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