Box Office: Denzel Puts Titans on Scoreboard

Though television channels are jammed with sports right now, movie audiences still chose football as the weekend's most entertaining event.

Denzel Washington reunited with his Crimson Tide producer, Jerry Bruckheimer, to coach Remember the Titans to No. 1. The real-life gridiron drama gained $21.2 million in its opening weekend, according to box-office estimates issued Sunday. That figure reflects a personal best for Washington; his Oscar-nominated turn in The Hurricane debuted to just $10.5 million in late 1999.

Titans soundly defeated its recent rival football films. The Replacements, starring Keanu Reeves, pulled down just $11 million straight out of the gate in August, while Oliver Stone's Any Given Sunday tallied up $20.6 million when it bowed during Christmas weekend last year.

Still Scary After All These Years The re-release of The Exorcist held audiences in its grip, as the theological thriller earned $7.4 million to stay in second place. The revamped 1973 horror smash dropped just 9 percent to garner the weekend's best viewer retention rate.

The Top 10's other fright-fest didn't fare as well — Urban Legends: Final Cut tumbled from first to fourth place with $4.7 million. Without star power or the whimsical approach of horror spoofs like Scary Movie, expect the Urban Legends sequel to be swiftly ushered to the grave.

Talkin' About His Generation Writer-director Cameron Crowe's valentine to the music of his '70s youth opened wider this weekend, yielding steady results. The acclaimed Almost Famous remained at No. 3 with a total gross of $17.8 million, nearly surpassing the $18.4 million final yield of Crowe's last rock film, the grunge-centric Singles.

A DreamWorks spokeswoman said she didn't know whether the studio planned to continue sending Almost Famous into more theaters.

What Lies Ties Bait, Beautiful Reins in Cowboys Two ties rounded out the box office, as the stubborn What Lies Beneath and the Jamie Foxx comedy Bait logjammed at eighth. The new Sally Field-directed Beautiful earned $1.4 million to tie Space Cowboys for the No. 10 slot. Beautiful — starring Minnie Driver as a beauty pageant hopeful — opened on just 646 screens, perhaps signifying that tiny studio Destination Films has adopted a more cautious approach after its Whipped flopped in more than 1,500 locations last month. Though critics unanimously spanked both films, Beautiful is showing far better numbers than Whipped (an opening weekend average of $2,100 per theater vs. $1,730 per screen, respectively).

The Top 10 films for Sept. 29-Oct. 1, 2000:

1. Remember the Titans, $21.2 million 2. The Exorcist, $7.4 million 3. Almost Famous, $5.6 million 4. Urban Legends: Final Cut, $4.7 million 5. Bring It On, $2.9 million 6. The Watcher, $2.3 million 7. Nurse Betty, $2.1 million 8. (tie) What Lies Beneath, $1.7 million 8. (tie) Bait, $1.7 million 10. (tie) Space Cowboys, $1.4 million 10. (tie) Beautiful, $1.4 million

Final figures will be released Monday.