'Driven' Eases Into Top Spot, Nudging 'Bridget Jones' Aside

From Associated Press

Sylvester Stallone's car-racing thriller "Driven" coasted to a first-place finish at the weekend box office, debuting with $13.1 million.

"Driven" bumped off "Bridget Jones's Diary," which slipped to second place with $7.5 million in ticket sales, according to studio estimates Sunday.

Three other new films--"Town & Country," "One Night at McCool's" and "The Forsaken"--had dismal openings.

"Driven" reunited Stallone with director Renny Harlin, who made "Cliffhanger," Stallone's last big hit, in 1993. Most Stallone films since then have been commercial flops, including "Judge Dredd" and "Get Carter." "Cop Land" opened at No. 1 in 1997 but faded quickly.

"It's nice to see him back on top," said Dan Fellman, head of distribution for Warner Bros., which released "Driven."

"Town & Country," a long-delayed romantic comedy starring Warren Beatty, Diane Keaton, Goldie Hawn and Garry Shandling, bombed with a seventh-place opening gross of $3.1 million.

"Obviously, it's not where we wanted to be with the film," said Steve Elzer, spokesman for New Line Cinema. "It's a disappointing number."

Begun nearly three years ago, "Town & Country" was plagued by delays, with its release date pushed back 12 times since New Line first put the movie on its schedule for release in April 1999. The budget also increased by a third to about $80 million.

Playing in 2,222 cinemas, "Town & Country" averaged a dismal $1,373 a theater. That compares to a $4,501 average in 2,905 theaters for "Driven."

The black comedy "One Night at McCool's" also bombed, opening at No. 12 with $2 million. The movie stars Liv Tyler, Matt Dillon, Paul Reiser, John Goodman and Michael Douglas.

"We believed it was a commercial film. This is disappointing," said Jack Foley, head of distribution for USA Films. "Maybe it's because it was a black comedy, and black comedies can be a difficult sell."

The vampire flick "The Forsaken" premiered at No. 8 with $3 million. Sony, which released "The Forsaken" under its Screen Gems label, stands to turn a profit on the movie because it cost just $5 million.

The box office overall took a big dive. The top 12 movies grossed $55.2 million, down 20% from the same weekend a year ago.

But Hollywood's revenues so far in 2001 are 14% ahead of last year's record pace and heading into a summer that's crowded with potential hits, including "Pearl Harbor," "Planet of the Apes," "Rollerball," "Tomb Raider" and "Jurassic Park 3." Summer blockbuster season gets an early start next weekend with "The Mummy Returns," the sequel to the 1999 hit.

Estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday at North American theaters are according to Exhibitor Relations Co. Inc. Final figures will be released today.

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