LOS ANGELES – Movie attendance remained strong this weekend despite the terrorist attacks on the United States, with a slate of new films nearly matching last weekend's box office returns, according to industry estimates Sunday.
The Keanu Reeves drama Hardball, about an inner-city Little League team, opened at No. 1 with $10.1 million.
That nearly equaled the swashbuckling adventure The Musketeer, which debuted in the top spot last weekend with $10.7 million.
This weekend, The Musketeer fell to third place with $5.3 million. The Glass House, a psychological thriller starring Leelee Sobieski, opened in second place with $6.1 million.
"There was a great amount of fear and apprehension about how the box office would shake up, but it appears there was no negative effect," said Paul Dergarabedian, president of Exhibitor Relations Co. Inc., which tracks movie earnings.
"Movies have always been a great diversion and relief for people," he added. "This shows that still holds true."
September is usually a weak month for new films, and earning expectations were low for Hardball and The Glass House even before last week's attacks on New York and Washington and the crash of a hijacked airliner in Pennsylvania.
However, the weekend box office returns were about 42 percent higher than the same time last year, $54.1 million compared to $37.8 million, Dergarabedian said.
Movie theaters were relatively empty on Friday night, as many Americans watched news coverage or participated in a day of remembrance
"But on Saturday, a lot of people pushed back out to go to the movies," said Rob Friedman, vice chairman of Paramount's motion picture group, which produced Hardball. "A lot of people wanted an escape."
Estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday at North American theaters, according to Exhibitor Relations. Final figures are to be released Monday.
1. Hardball, $10.1 million.
2. The Glass House, $6.1 million.
3. The Musketeer, $5.3 million.
4. The Others, $4.8 million.
5. Two Can Play That Game, $4.7 million.
6. Rush Hour 2, $4.3 million
7. Jeepers Creepers, $3.8 million.
8. Rat Race, $3.62 million.
9. American Pie 2, $3.60 million.
10. Rock Star, $3.5 million