Box Office: Cats & Dogs Claws to No. 1

Cats and dogs and ghosts, oh my! The family comedy Cats & Dogs barely scratched out a victory opposite the horror-comedy Scary Movie 2 this weekend

Cats & Dogs, which combined live actors like Jeff Goldblum and Elizabeth Perkins and live animals with computer animation, earned about $22 million for the Friday to Sunday period, according to studio estimates. Like its rival, Scary Movie 2, the Warner Bros. comedy got a head start by opening on the Fourth of July holiday, which fell on a Wednesday this year. After five days, Cats & Dogs' total stands at $36 million, while Scary Movie 2 was close behind with $34.5 million. Over the weekend, the sequel to last year's surprise smash hit earned $21 million, according to early estimates. Moviegoers aged 18 to 24 were the core audience for the R-rated movie, and it played strongest with black viewers, a Dimension spokesman told Reuters.

WB Changes Tack for A.I. Last weekend's champion, director Steven Spielberg's A.I.: Artificial Intelligence also from Warner Bros., fell to No. 3 with $14.2 million. The 10-day total for the sci-fi movie, which was based on an idea by the late filmmaker Stanley Kubrick, is $59.7 million.

The film's 52 percent drop from the previous weekend was the largest in the Top 10, but WB Distribution President Dan Fellman tells Reuters he is confident it will break $100 million, which is about what the movie reportedly cost to make. According to Variety, the studio is now changing its marketing to appeal to the film's apparent key audience, adults 25 and older.

The other new entry in the Top 10, the action thriller Kiss of the Dragon, starring Chinese martial arts star Jet Li and Bridget Fonda, debuted at No. 4 with a three-day haul of $13.6 million since its Friday opening. Li plays a Chinese government agent who rescues a junkie hooker (Fonda) from the grip of a corrupt Parisian cop (Tchéky Karyo).

Fast and Furious Hits $100 Million The street racing thriller The Fast and the Furious, from Universal, fell three places to No. 5 with $12.4 million. After 17 days, its total stands at $101.5 million, making it the seventh release of 2001 to pass the century mark. The sleeper hit reportedly cost only $38 million to make.

The Top 12 films grossed $122.4 million, up 4 percent from last weekend, but down 11 percent from the year-ago period, when the first Scary Movie opened at No. 1 with $42 million.

The Top 10 films for July 6-8, 2001: Cats & Dogs, $21.7 million Scary Movie 2, $21 million A.I.: Artificial Intelligence, $14.1 million Kiss of the Dragon, $13.6 million The Fast and the Furious, $12.4 million Dr. Dolittle 2, $10.1 million Lara Croft: Tomb Raider, $6.8 million Shrek, $6 million Atlantis: The Lost Empire, $5 million Baby Boy, $4.8 million Final figures will be released Monday.

Reuters contributed to this story.

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