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The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

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‘Sweet Home Alabama’ tops U.S. box office

LOS ANGELES (REUTERS) — The new Reese Witherspoon romantic comedy “Sweet Home Alabama” attracted movie-goers like bees to honey this weekend, setting a new record for a North American box office opening in September, according to studio estimates issued Sunday.

While “Sweet Home Alabama” got mixed reviews from critics, with some calling it predictable and filled with Southern clichés, the film and Witherspoon demonstrated wide audience appeal, pulling in a record $37.5 million for the Friday-to-Sunday period, the largest tally for a September debut since “Rush Hour” with $33 million in 1998.

“Any time you can set a record, you always feel extremely good, and it shows the strength of a movie starring Reese Witherspoon,” said Chuck Viane, the president of Buena Vista Pictures Distribution, a unit of Walt Disney Co., which released the film on about 3,000 screens.

“We got a broad audience, with people ranging [in age] from 12 to about 80 going to see it. It plays across all ages,” he said.

Witherspoon has just signed up for the sequel to last summer’s surprise hit comedy “Legally Blonde” for a reported $15 million, propelling her into the league of Hollywood’s highest-paid female stars.

She captivated audiences in “Alabama” as a successful New York fashion designer torn between a rich fiancé, played by Patrick Dempsey, and her secret redneck husband, played by Josh Lucas.

“Alabama” handily outpaced rival newcomer “The Tuxedo,” starring Jackie Chan, who plays an amiable chauffeur caught up in high-level espionage with Jennifer Love Hewitt. The film, released by Dreamworks SKG, was No. 2 on the charts with $15.1 million.

The new releases clipped the Ice Cube comedy “Barbershop” from the top slot, where the low-budget $20 million film, released by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Inc, had ruled for two weekends in a row.

“Barbershop,” fell two places to No. 3 with $10.1 million, followed by the hit romantic comedy “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” at No. 4 with $9.8 million.

The cumulative total for “Wedding,” starring Nia Vardalos as a Greek-American who marries a WASP played by John Corbett, rose to $137 million, just $3 million short of the most successful indie film in history, the 1999 thriller “The Blair Witch Project.”
“The Banger Sisters,” starring Goldie Hawn and Susan Sarandon, slipped from No. 2 to No. 5 with $5.4 million for the weekend, followed by the romantic period epic “The Four Feathers,” starring Hawn’s daughter, Kate Hudson, which ranked six, pulling in $3.6 million.
The Robin Williams drama “One Hour Photo” fell one place to No. 7 with $3.0 million, followed by Warner Bros.’s action thriller “Ballistic: Ecks vs. Sever,” starring Lucy Liu and Antonio Banderas as dueling spies, ranking eighth with $2.7 million. Rounding out the top ten were the Mel Gibson-starring thriller “Signs” at No. 9 with $2.3 million, bringing its cumulative receipts to $221.1 million. “Signs” was released by Disney’s Touchstone Pictures. “Swimfan” came in tenth place with $1.5 million.
Total receipts for the top 12 films rose 46.7 percent to $94.0 million from the same weekend last year, while receipts also leaped 37.1 percent from last weekend’s gross of $68.6 million, according to tracking firm Exhibitor Relations.

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