'Anger Management' bullies its way to $44.5 million debut

Monday, April 14, 2003

LOS ANGELES -- "Anger Management" bullied its way to the No. 1 spot with a whopping $44.5 million box office in its debut weekend, according to studio estimates Sunday.

The Adam Sandler and Jack Nicholson comedy revived the box office after four straight slumping weekends as the top 12 movies took in $86.9 million, up 6 percent from the same weekend last year.

"Anger Management" grossed more than the rest of the top 12 combined. Last weekend's No. 1, "Phone Booth," fell to second place with $7.5 million.

Playing in 3,551 theaters, "Anger Management" averaged an impressive $12,532 a cinema. The weekend's other main new release, Rob Zombie's gory horror tale "House of 1,000 Corpses," was No. 7 with $3.4 million in 595 theaters, for a $5,714 average.

"Anger Management" had the highest gross ever for a movie opening in April, beating the previous record of $36.1 million set by last year's "The Scorpion King."

Sandler plays a mild-mannered man railroaded into anger counseling with a therapist, played by Nicholson, who puts him through ordeals that goad him into comic outbursts.

Audiences have gobbled up comedies this year, possibly looking for escape from news about the Iraq war. The $100 million hit "Bringing Down the House" was No. 1 for three straight weekends, and "Head of State" debuted at the top of the box office.

"The comedy genre this year is just incapable of burning out," said Paul Dergarabedian, president of box-office tracker Exhibitor Relations. "People are looking to blow off steam."

Estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday at North American theaters, according to Exhibitor Relations Co. Inc. Final figures will be released today.

1. "Anger Management," $44.5 million.

2. "Phone Booth," $7.5 million.

3. "What a Girl Wants," $6.7 million.

4. "Bringing Down the House," $4.6 million.

5. "A Man Apart," $4.5 million.

6. "Head of State," $4 million.

7. "House of 1,000 Corpses," $3.4 million.

8. "Chicago," $3.3 million.

9. "The Core," $3.2 million.

10. "Basic," $2.2 million.

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