Shark Tale makes $31.7 million for three days

The gangster cartoon "Shark Tale" roughed up its rivals at the North American box office for a second weekend, while Billy Bob Thornton scored a touchdown at No. 2 with his new school football drama "Friday Night Lights," according to studio estimates issued on Sunday.

Among other new releases, former "Saturday Night Live" star Jimmy Fallon's headlining debut "Taxi" stalled at No. 4, while ubiquitous teen queen Hilary Duff's latest drama "Raise Your Voice" struggled to be heard at No. 6.

DreamWorks' "Shark Tale," featuring the voices of Will Smith and Robert De Niro in the story of fishy mobsters, bit off $31.7 million for the three days beginning Friday, taking its 10-day catch to $87.7 million. The film cost about $70 million to make, Reuters informed.

According to the Bloomberg, "Shark Tale," starring Will Smith as a fish running from a gang of sharks, is drawing children and parents to theaters, providing a boost to DreamWorks, said Paul Dergarabedian, president of Exhibitor Relations. The studio is planning a $650 million initial share offering for its animation unit, DreamWorks Animation Inc.

DreamWorks ranks fifth among companies owning Hollywood studios in 2003 ticket sales with about $800 million. Time Warner is No. 1 with $1.19 billion, according to Nielsen EDI, which tracks box office sales.

"Ladder 49," starring John Travolta and Joaquin Phoenix, also had a solid hold, its gross down 40 percent from its first weekend to raise its total to $42.2 million.

Based on H.G. "Buzz" Bissinger's 1990 bestseller, "Friday Night Lights" stars Thornton as Permian High School football coach Gary Gaines as he steers his team toward a championship run.

The movie had been aimed largely at young males, but it captured a fairly wide audience, with 54 percent of viewers older than 25 and women making up 44 percent of the crowds, according to distributor Universal Studios.

"I think it's the fact that it's a true story, and the fact that is has a lot of heart, which bodes well even for females," said Nikki Rocco, Universal head of distribution. "I loved it because it really delves into the feeling of what it's like to be so committed to something."

Among the new movies, the weekend was a triumph for quality. "Friday Night Lights" earned high marks from critics, while reviewers generally trashed "Taxi" and "Raise Your Voice.", ABC News reported.

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