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Monday, 21 January, 2002, 17:11 GMT
Black Hawk shoots down Rings
Black Hawk Down: Has appealed to a wide audience
Black Hawk Down: Has appealed to a wide audience
War movie Black Hawk Down has ended The Lord of the Rings' month-long reign as the most popular film at United States and Canada cinemas.

Black Hawk Down, which follows a doomed 1993 US special forces mission in Somalia, was released across the US on Friday and took $29m (£20m) at box offices during the weekend, according to studio estimates.

US box office
1. Black Hawk Down
2. Snow Dogs
3. The Lord of the Rings
4. A Beautiful Mind
5. Orange County
The Lord of the Rings moved into third place, with Snow Dogs, a Disney comedy starring Cuba Gooding Jr and a pack of huskies, entering in second place.

The epic JRR Tolkien fantasy is still set to become one of the 20 most successful US box office films of all time within the next week.

Black Hawk Down, directed by Ridley Scott, has been criticised by some for showing a biased view of the battle that left 18 US soldiers and about 500 Somalis dead. But others have praised its realism.

Crowe won a Golden Globe for his role in A Beautiful Mind
Crowe won a Golden Globe for his role in A Beautiful Mind
Despite fears over whether audiences would have the appetite for war movies after 11 September, the release was brought forward by three months to capitalise on patriotic feeling and qualify for the Oscars.

It is now attracting viewers from across the spectrum of cinema-goers, not just those who would normally go to see war films, according to Paul Dergarabedian, president of box office tracker Exhibitor Relations.

"Ordinarily war films tend to do better with men, but patriotism knows no gender, and I think that's a big part of why this film is doing so well," he said.

"Everybody can relate to this film in some way."

Lord of the Rings: Taken almost $240m so far
Lord of the Rings: Taken almost $240m so far
Jeff Blake, Sony's president of worldwide marketing and distribution, said: "The fact we had strong female attendance... really sets it apart from your normal action film or war-theme film and makes it what I think this story really is, which is a real human drama."

Among the actors who star in the film are Josh Hartnett, Ewan McGregor, Tom Sizemore, Eric Bana, William Fichtner and Jason Issacs.

Snow Dogs, in which Gooding Jr plays a dentist who inherits a pack of sledge dogs, is doing well with fans who want to get away from such serious subjects, Mr Dergarabedian said.

"Snow Dogs came into a marketplace that has a lot of Oscar contenders, some very serious films, and families need a break, they need something fun," he said.

Success

A Beautiful Mind, which has won four awards at the Golden Globe Awards, including best dramatic film and best dramatic actor for Russell Crowe, is in fourth spot after three weeks on nationwide release.

The Lord of the Rings has now taken more than $240m (£167m) in total in the US and Canada.

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone - as it is known in the US - became the ninth most successful film in US cinema history over the weekend, with total takings approaching $310m (£216m).

See also:

18 Jan 02 | Reviews
Black Hawk focuses on war
21 Jan 02 | Reviews
Black Hawk Down: Your views
17 Jan 02 | Film
Hawk swoops into London
16 Jan 02 | Film
Army attends Hawk première
14 Jan 02 | Film
Rings keeps grip on box office
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