"Bruce Almighty" renewed box-office analysts' faith in Jim Carrey's star power, grossing an estimated $86.4 million over the four day Memorial Day weekend.
Going into the weekend, analysts were forecasting a neck-and-neck race for No. 1 between "Bruce Almighty" and "The Matrix Reloaded." The way it turned out, "Reloaded" took in a little more than half the total of "Bruce" -- $45.6 million -- to go over $209 million mark in its 12th day in release.
Carrey last movie, "The Majestic," was a box-office disappointment. With "Bruce," the comic actor put up his best opening ever, surpassing the numbers for "Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas" ($55 million, 2000). "Bruce" is now the second-biggest Memorial Day opener ever, next to "The Lost World: Jurassic Park" ($90.1 million, 1997).
Eddie Murphy's "Daddy Day Care" was No. 3 with $18 million in its third weekend. "X2: X-Men United" was No. 4 with $13.1 million, and a four-week total of $192 million.
The new Michael Douglas-Albert Brooks comedy "The In-Laws" fell short of expectations, grossing $9.1 million and finishing at No. 5 in its opening weekend.
Overall, the U.S. box office was down 1 percent from Memorial Day 2002 with an estimated $198 million. For the year to date, the box office is running behind last year's record setting pace, but the spring box-office season was still the second best ever.
With "The Matrix Reloaded" and "X2" leading the way -- and getting help from solid performers such as "Anger Management" and "Bringing Down the House" -- the U.S. box office took in more than $1.4 billion this spring. That's a drop-off of almost 10 percent from last spring, when the box office -- led by "Spider-Man" -- took in a phenomenal 40 percent more in ticket sales than ever before.
Movie ticket sales are expected to stay strong this weekend when the new Disney-Pixar animated feature "Finding Nemo" arrives in theaters, along with the Mark Wahlberg-Edward Norton caper "The Italian Job" and a new slasher movie, "Wrong Turn."
'ELEPHANT' IS TOPS AT CANNES
The jury at Cannes had to break the rules to reward "Elephant," writer-director Gus Van Sant's take on high school violence, with two top awards.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, the jury asked Cannes Film Festival officials to waive a rule against giving more than one prize to the same movie, with the exception of acting awards. The rule was instituted after Joel and Ethan Coen won the Palme d'Or for best picture as well as the directing prize in 1991 for "Barton Fink."
"Elephant" -- which took the Palme d'Or and the best director prize Sunday -- came into the festival as something of a mystery. It featured a mostly unknown cast and just two recognizable actors -- Matt Malloy ("Far from Heaven," "AI Artificial Intelligence") and Timothy Bottoms ("That's My Bush," "The Paper Chase").
It is the first American movie to win the Palme d'Or since "Pulp Fiction" in 1994.
The jury only honored three movies -- handing two awards to each of them. In addition to "Elephant," the other winners at Cannes this year were "Uzak" and "The Barbarian Invasions."
DREAMWORKS WILL STAY IN 'SCHOOL'
DreamWorks is planning a sequel to the college hijinks comedy "Old School," according to a report in Daily Variety.
"Old School" -- which cost a reported $24 million to make -- grossed $75 million at the U.S. box office earlier this year. Variety said the movie's stars -- Will Ferrell, Luke Wilson and Vince Vaughn -- were likely to return for the sequel.
The paper also said the studio is working on another college-age comedy -- formerly titled "The Ugly Americans" -- by the writing-directing team of Alec Berg, David Mandel and Jeff Schaffer. They are the credited writers on Mike Myers' upcoming live action version of "The Cat in the Hat."
HONORS FOR MATT GROENING
Matt Groening, the brains behind the animated TV hit "The Simpsons," has been named cartoonist of the year at the National Cartoonists Society's Reuben Awards.
The Reuben is a statuette designed by and named after the society's first president, legendary cartoonist Rube Goldberg.
Groening joins a list of Reuben winners that includes Scott Adams ("Dilbert"), Garry Trudeau ("Doonesbury"), Gary Larson ("The Far Side"), Cathy Guisewite("Cathy") and MAD Magazine contributors Sergio Aragones and Mort Drucker.
Darby Conley's "Get Fuzzy" was named best newspaper comic on Saturday at the 57th annual award Reuben awards in San Francisco.
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