They say familiarity breeds contempt, but maybe not at the box office: the blade wielded by The Musketeer, the umpteenth remake of The Three Musketeers, was sharp enough to carve up the competition and emerge as the weekend's No. 1 movie. The Vivica A. Fox sex comedy Two Can Play That Game came in second, while the heavily-advertised Mark Wahlberg/Jennifer Aniston vehicle Rock Star limped its way to third place.
The Musketeer's $10.7 million gross was low even by the standards of this traditionally slow time of year, but another No. 1 opener gives the people at Universal Pictures (the studio that enjoyed the most success this summer) that much more to crow about. On the other hand, Rock Star's disappointing performance proves that even star power is no cure for Warner Bros.'s ongoing box office woes — Aniston may star in America's most popular sitcom, but even Freddie Prinze Jr.'s Summer Catch opened stronger for the studio. Meanwhile, Sony's meat-and-potatoes Screen Gems label, still smarting from the failure of John Carpenter's Ghosts of Mars, got something to smile about with Game, which proves again that urban-skewing relationship comedies are one of the quickest ways there is to turn a buck in Hollywood (this one was shot in just 28 days at a cost of $6 million). Other notable box-office developments included Rush Hour 2 passing $200 million and the D.O.A. performance of Artisan's long-delayed and never-screened for-critics Soul Survivors (which American Beauty's Wes Bentley somehow got rooked into making), which failed to crack either the top 10 or the $2 million mark.
Andrew Johnston is a film critic and associate editor at US WEEKLY magazine.