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Monday, July 19, 1999 Published at 11:21 GMT 12:21 UK


Eyes Wide Shut opens on top

Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman in Eyes Wide Shut

Director Stanley Kubrick's final film, the steamy thriller Eyes Wide Shut, has shot to the top of the US box office chart, according to industry estimates.

The study of jealous and sexual obsession, starring Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman, took $22.8m between Friday and Sunday, according to early figures.

According to the late producer's studio, Warner Brothers, the amount is about half of the $46m his previous film - 1987's Full Metal Jacket - took during its entire run in the US. It is also Tom Cruise's sixth consecutive number one movie.

[ image: The film is Cruise's sixth US number one in a row]
The film is Cruise's sixth US number one in a row
"It's a tribute to Stanley, the great reviews and performances by Tom and Nicole, and the untimely death of Stanley. A lot of people could not wait to get in," said the company's distribution president, Dan Fellman.

Kubrick died on 7 March just as he was completing post production of the movie, which has received mixed reviews from critics.

Pundits say the film has done particularly well considering its adult storyline and its running time of two hours and 39 minutes.

Cuts made to film

Several cuts had to be made to the film in order to avoid an NC-17 rating - which bars under-17s from seeing the film - which would have been commercially devastating.

A 65-second long orgy scene was toned down by digitally inserting people to cover up the participants. The film now had an R-rating, which means under-17s can see the film if accompanied by an adult.

[ image: Stanley Kubrick died in March]
Stanley Kubrick died in March
Fellman added blanket TV coverage across the US of John F Kennedy Jnr's disappearance in a plane crash may have affected the film's takings. Rival executives said their films - aimed at younger audiences - were unaffected.

Teenage sex comedy American Pie - about four teenage boys who enter a pact to lose their virginity by prom night or die - fell to number two on its second week of release, taking $13.3m, while Big Daddy - starring comedian Adam Sandler - held steady at number three with $10.5m.

Arthouse horror sensation

But the other film making waves in the US is not even in the Top 10. Arthouse film The Blair Witch Project opened in just 27 screens around the country - but managed to take over $1.5m over the weekend.

[ image: The Blair Witch Project: Actor Joshua Leonard in the forest]
The Blair Witch Project: Actor Joshua Leonard in the forest
The horror film is told through a mock documentary shot by three film-makers who disappear in a forest while searching for a legendary witch. The lead characters go missing - but their tape is found 12 months later.

While making the film, the actors carried around a global positioning satellite receiver to let the crew know where they were in the forest.

Huge crowds built up at the cinemas where it played - and it took over $57,400 at each screen, compared to $9,400 for Eyes Wide Shut.

Meanwhile, fans are already converging on the small town of Burkittsville, Maryland that was the setting for the film.

The Blair Witch Project gets a wider release across the US from 30 July.

Eyes Wide Shut opens in the UK on 17 September.

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