Box Office: Weaver, J-Lo Jr. Break Down Brothers

It was a clash of the newbies as bosomy broads battled bare-chested, basketball-playing brothers for box-office supremacy over the weekend. According to studio estimates released earlier today, the ladies won.

Sigourney Weaver and Jennifer Love Hewitt play sexy scam artists who separate wealthy fellas from their greenbacks in MGM's Heatbreakers — it turns out that their feminine wiles are equally well-suited to squeezing cash out of moviegoers. The con comedy, which also stars Gene Hackman and Ray Liotta, broke the hearts of its competitors with a first-place finish and first-weekend ticket sales of approximately $12.3 million.

Sony's The Brothers had to settle for second place but showed plenty of game in putting up solid opening weekend numbers of its own. With sitcom star D.L. Hughley, MTV vet Bill Bellamy, and Soul Train conductor Shemar Moore on its roster, the male-centric romantic comedy scored an estimated $10.7 million.

Oscar Contenders Draw Strong Crowds Interest in the 73rd Annual Academy Awards boosted the fortunes of the three Best Picture contenders still in theaters. Grosses for Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon rose approximately 15 percent from the previous weekend, as the martial arts epic reentered the top five, finishing fifth with a haul of $4.7 million.

Traffic also demonstrated a notably improved performance, rising three spots from its previous rank to finish seventh with an estimated $3.9 million take, a 14 percent gain over the previous weekend. Grosses for Chocolat shrank, but only by 4 percent, and the film rose one spot from last weekend's ninth-place finish by virtue of a tie with See Spot Run — earnings for both films were estimated at $3.3 million.

Tiger, Traffic, and Chocolat may all enjoy even better business next weekend, pending at least one win from among the major Oscar categories in which each film is nominated.

10th Place — Say It Isn't So! Finally, if you're just plain tired of all those gross-out comedies, you've got plenty of company. Moviegoers turned a cold shoulder to Heather Graham and Chris Klein, largely ignoring the duo's Say It Isn't So. The incest caper did manage to nab the final spot in the top 10 but was effectively DOA at the box office, with opening-weekend ticket sales of just $3.1 million.

The Top 10 films for March 23-25, 2001:

1. Heatbreakers, $12.3 million 2. The Brothers, $10.7 million 3. Exit Wounds, $9.2 million 4. Enemy at the Gates, $8.4 million 5. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, $4.7 million 6. The Mexican, $4.3 million 7. Traffic, $3.9 million 8. Chocolat, $3.3 million 8. See Spot Run, $3.3 million 10. Say It Isn't So, $3.1 million

Final figures will be released Monday.

Reuters contributed to this story.

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