First the Super Bowl, now the Olympics. For the second week in a row, TV sports took a major bite out of the box office.
This weekend's top casualty was Collateral Damage, the terrorism-themed Arnold Schwarzenegger vehicle that was supposed to open in October, but got shelved after the Sept. 11th attacks.
Though it opened better than his last movie — 2000's The Sixth Day — Damage's $15 million bow isn't much to write home about. At least it did better than another moldy oldie, MGM's Rollerball (delayed from the summer of 2001), which suffered from a combination of bad reviews and poor business that's sure to nip teen comedy king Chris Klein's action-stud career in the bud.
The kiddie comedy Big Fat Liar, starring Malcolm in the Middle's Frankie Muniz, opened a strong second, indicating that the youth of America were desperate for something fresh now that Snow Dogs is getting a little long in the tooth.
The returning movies fell as expected, with the exception of unusually decent holdover performance from The Count of Monte Cristo in its third week (well, decent compared to The Mothman Prophecies and the rest of the movies it opened against thee weeks ago).
The Oscar nominations come out on Tuesday, and they'll play a big role in determining how much longer Black Hawk Down, The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring and A Beautiful Mind hang around your multiplex before shuffling off to cable and video.
Still, those films will face stiff competition next weekend from a slate of new films that includes the Bruce Willis WWII saga Hart's War, the animated Peter Pan sequel Return to Neverland and Britney Spears' bigscreen debut, Crossroads.
Why no big romantic comedy release for Valentine's Day this year? Your guess is as good as mine.
Andrew Johnston is a film critic and associate editor at US WEEKLY magazine.