'RV' is king of the road; 'United 93' debuts at No. 2
Los Angeles - Audiences hit the road with Robin Williams as his family-vacation romp "RV" opened at No. 1 with $16.4 million, while the acclaimed Sept. 11 drama "United 93" debuted with $11.6 million.
Studio estimates Sunday had Universal Pictures' "United 93" in second place, just ahead of Disney's sports comedy "Stick It," which premiered with $11.3 million.
The weekend's other new wide release, Lionsgate's spelling-bee drama "Akeelah and the Bee," was No. 8 with $6.25 million.
The 20th Century Fox release "RV" was expected to debut on top, but "United 93" had been an unknown quantity, with Hollywood analysts wondering whether movie-goers were ready to relive the horrors of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
"It's not about the positioning of the film. It's about the fact that the American public spoke out," said Nikki Rocco, head of distribution for Universal Pictures. "This is a wonderful result. What they said was that it wasn't too soon for a film about Sept. 11."
With painstaking authenticity, "United 93" recounts the horrific end of passengers who fought back against their hijackers aboard one of the commandeered planes, which crashed in rural Pennsylvania.
Playing in 1,795 theaters, about half as many as "RV," "United 93" averaged a solid $6,462 a cinema, the best results among the top-10 movies.
Overall business rose for the sixth-straight weekend, with the top-12 movies taking in $90.7 million, up 12 percent from the same weekend last year. After a big slump in 2005, attendance is running 4 percent ahead of last year's, with Tom Cruise's "Mission: Impossible III" opening Friday and kicking off what is expected to be a huge summer at the movies.
Estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday at U.S. and Canadian theaters, according to Exhibitor Relations Co. Inc.:
1. "RV," $16.4 million.
2. "United 93," $11.6 million.
3. "Stick It," $11.3 million.
4. "Silent Hill," $9.3 million.
5. "Scary Movie 4," $7.8 million.
6. "The Sentinel," $7.6 million.
7. "Ice Age: The Meltdown," $7.05 million.
8. "Akeelah and the Bee," $6.25 million.
9. "The Wild," $4.7 million.
10. "The Benchwarmers," $4.4 million.
Accident reports conflict
Wellington, New Zealand - Keith Richards fans gathered outside a hospital Sunday where the Rolling Stones guitarist was believed to be undergoing treatment for a mild concussion reportedly suffered when he fell out of a palm tree on vacation in Fiji.
One newspaper also reported that Richards, 62, got on a Jet Ski after the fall and had another accident. Several Australian and New Zealand media outlets reported the fall from the tree.
Band spokeswoman Fran Curtis has said only that Richards was injured earlier this week and flown to New Zealand with his wife, Patti, for observation.
Distanced from Duke
Durham, N.C. - Tom Wolfe, who wrote about lacrosse culture in "I Am Charlotte Simmons," reiterates the novel's setting is not Durham, home to Duke University and its embattled lacrosse team.
Answering an audience member's question at a book festival on the Duke campus, the author said he did notice similarities between his fictional characters and people at the center of the recent rape investigation involving Duke lacrosse players.
Wolfe's 2004 novel, set on a fictional Northern university campus, portrays "sexually aggressive lacrosse players." Duke has been mentioned as the possible setting for "Charlotte Simmons," partially because the fictional Dupont University includes the Gothic architecture that marks Duke and also because Wolfe's daughter attended Duke.
In the book, athletes at Dupont are depicted as lumbering, thuggish "herpes pustules" who get all the women and get away with everything. In lacrosse, one character says, "white boys are the ones with the machismo."
Los Angeles - Don Johnson and his wife, Kelley, celebrated their seventh anniversary with the birth of their third child, a spokesman announced Sunday.
The baby boy, who is yet to be named, was born Saturday morning at a Los Angeles hospital. He weighed 7 pounds, said Elliot Mintz, a spokesman for the star of TV's "Miami Vice" and "Nash Bridges."
The couple also have another son, Jasper, and a daughter, Grace.
Johnson has a daughter, Dakota, with actress Melanie Griffith, and a son, Jesse, with actress Patti D'Arbanville.
Mission not impossible
Hong Kong - Actress Maggie Quigley said she was seriously ill when she auditioned for "Mission: Impossible III" and was amazed that she got a key role in the film starring Tom Cruise.
Quigley, who lives in Hong Kong, said she found out she got the part when a floral basket arrived at her Los Angeles hotel with a card saying, "Welcome. Here's to a great mission."
Quigley, known as Maggie Q in Hong Kong, plays Zhen, a member of Cruise's team that hunts down an arms dealer.
When she auditioned for "Mission: Impossible III," she said she was in the early stages of a kidney infection. "I was so ill, I could barely remember what it was I had to do." she said. "I had uncontrollable shaking one minute, and I was sweating the next. But I realized right then I had 10 minutes to change my life. Either you bring it or you don't."