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'Madea' leads again at Oscar weekend box office

Written by: Staff

LOS ANGELES, Mar 5: The urban farce ''Madea's Family Reunion'' reigned as the most popular film in North America for a second weekend but overall sales were weak as the studios focused today's Academy Awards ceremony.

''Madea'' sold 13 million dollars worth of tickets across the United States and Canada in the three days beginning March 3, according to estimates from its distributor, Lionsgate. The film, written and directed by Tyler Perry, who also stars in the title role as a crazy granny, has earned 48.1 million dollars after 10 days. It cost 6 million dollars to make.

The comedy is still playing mostly to its core constituency of black women aged 35 and above, but arousing the curiosity of some white movie-goers, said Steve Rothenberg, president of do,tmestic theatrical distribution at the Lions Gate Entertainment Corp unit.

Four new films entered the marketplace but they failed to find broad support. The best of the bunch was ''16 Blocks,'' an action movie starring Bruce Willis and Mos Def. It opened at No 2 with 11.7 million dollars, falling short of distributor Warner Bros. Pictures' hopes of a bow in the mid-teens.

''Ultraviolet,'' a sci-fi action adventure starring Milla Jovovich, opened at No 4 with 9 million dollars, playing mostly to male audiences aged 21 and older, said its distributor, Sony Pictures.

''Aquamarine,'' a mermaid fantasy targeted at young girls, opened at No 5 with 7.5 million dollars. The Twentieth Century Fox film stars Emma Roberts, the 15-year-old daughter of Julia Roberts' estranged brother Eric.

''Dave Chappelle's Block Party,'' a concert documentary revolving around a hip-hop gathering organized by the popular comedian, opened at No 7 with 6.5 million dollars. It played strongly to Chappelle's core fan base of college kids and male youngsters, said distributor Focus Features.

None of the films vying for Oscars made the top 10. The best performer was ''Brokeback Mountain,'' which was up for eight awards. The total for Focus Features' gay-cowboy drama was about 2.5 million dollars, taking its total to 78.9 million dollars.

Sony Pictures' ''Capote,'' which was up for five Oscars including best picture and actor, earned 2 million dollars to push its overall take to 25.9 dollars.

''Transamerica,'' which yielded a best-actress nomination for Felicity Huffman, earned 1.6 million dollars and now has earned 6.8 million dollars to date. It was released by the closely held Weinstein Co and IFC Films, a unit of Cablevision Systems Corp.

Warner Bros. Pictures is a unit of Time Warner Inc Sony Pictures is a unit of Sony Corp. Fox is a unit of News Corp Focus Features is a unit of NBC Universal, which is controlled by General Electric Co.


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