Box Office: Diesel Pacifies Weekend Movie Crowd with Muscular $30.2M

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Last weekend, ?The Diary of a Mad, Black Woman? surprised the industry by topping the charts with $21.9M in just about 1500 theaters. This weekend, Vin Diesel topped the charts by veering off his normal course of action films and showing his softer side in a family comedy. Disney?s ?The Pacifier? topped the charts this weekend with a very muscular $30.2M, despite measuring only 20% on the Tomatometer. Critics thought Diesel parodying his tough guy image for the family audience was only moderately amusing. If estimates hold, that?s the fifth best opener ever for the month of March behind Ice Age ($46.3M), Blade II ($32.5M), Liar Liar ($31.4M), and Bringing Down the House ($31.1M). For Diesel, this is his third best opener, behind ?The Fast and the Furious? ($40M) and ?XXX? ($44.5M). After disappointing returns from his last three films, Vin Diesel?s career was spiraling downwards since ?The Fast and the Furious? made him a superstar; ?The Pacifier?s? unlikely chart-topping debut will put his career back on track.

?Be Cool,? the film that many in the industry expected to take the top spot, had a solid opening with an estimated $23.5M and placed 2nd. If estimates hold, this will be John Travolta?s personal best, ahead of ?Face/Off?s? $23.4M. Featuring an ensemble cast that includes Uma Thurman, Vince Vaughn, Cedric the Entertainer, Aerosmith?s Steven Tyler, Harvey Keitel, Danny DeVito, and The Rock, it about doubled the original?s debut. Get Shorty, released about a decade ago with 84% on the Tomatometer, grossed $12.8M and went on to total $72.1M. It?s doubtful that ?Be Cool? can reach or surpass that total since badly reviewed films usually do not have legs. ?Be Cool? has a chilly 28% on the Tomatometer. Critics called the film tepid, square, and lukewarm; as a parody of the music business, it has two left feet.

The third film to debut over the weekend in wide release was ?The Jacket,? starring Academy Award winning actor Adrien Brody (?The Pianist?) and Keira Knightley (?Pirates of the Caribbean?). The sci-fi thriller debuted with a lowly $2.7M estimate. It?s future is obviously not too bright. It barely cracked the top 10. However, it is the best reviewed of the three new films, with 43% on the Tomatometer. Still, 43% is nothing to brag about. Critics called ?The Jacket? a case of creepy style over substance.

Clint Eastwood?s ?Million Dollar Baby? saw a slight increase in business after winning four Oscars. It grossed an estimated $8.5M this weekend and moved up one spot to 5th place. Its total so far is a glittering $77M.

Last weekend?s top finisher, ?The Diary of a Mad, Black Women,? dropped to 4th with $12M for a total of $38M after two weeks of release. It had a 45% drop-off from last weekend despite the addition of 220 more theaters.

Rounding out the rest of the top 12 are ?Hitch? in 3rd with $12.5M ($138.4 total), ?Constantine? in 6th with $6M ($60.5M total), ?Cursed? in 7th with $3.9M ($15.3M total), ?Man of the House? in 8th with $3.5M ($13.9M total), ?Because of Winn-Dixie? in 9th with $3.5M ($27M total), ?The Aviator? in 11th with $2.3M ($97M total), and ?Sideways? in 12th with $2.2M ($66.3 total).

Of the three new debuts, their box office rankings were inversely related to their Tomatometer - the worst the reviews, the higher the ranking.

The top 12 films this weekend grossed an estimated $110.8M, about 16% less than the same weekend last year when ?The Passion of the Christ? topped the charts again in its second weekend with a divine $53.2M. Compared to last weekend, it is 6% higher though.

Click here for the complete box office list.

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