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<i>Anger Management</i> Tops US Most Popular Movie List - 2003-04-16

Adam Sandler fans managed to give the comic actor a new number one movie and set a raging box office record for an April opening. Alan Silverman lists this week's top five films starting with a drug war drama at number five.

'Diablo' is a deadly druglord who will stop at nothing to get his narcotics traffic through. Sean Vetter is a drug enforcement agent on a crusade to break the back of the cartel. A Man Apart stars Vin Diesel as the renegade agent Vetter. Diesel, who is also the film's producer, says its gritty realism comes, in part, from its comparatively modest, $35 million production budget.

"It's pretty gruesome. It's pretty harsh," Diesel admits. " It's different doing films in [this budget] range. They have different rules than the films that are above $100 million. I can play a character who smokes cigarettes. I can play a character that kills a guy with his bare hands because he doesn't know how else to handle this anger."

Larenz Tate and Jacqueline Obradors co-star and A Man Apart ends up in fifth place.

Bringing Down The House stars Queen Latifah as a clever ex-convict who teaches uptight lawyer Steve Martin a thing or two about the law . . . and about life . . . in this comedy that pokes fun at stereotypes and prejudice. The biggest hit of the year so far, Bringing Down The House brings in enough at the box office to move up the chart to number four.

What A Girl Wants is a comedy for the "tween-age" pre-teen set. Amanda Bynes stars as a New York 16-year-old who travels to England to find the father she never knew: aristocrat Colin Firth, who never knew he had a daughter:

Bynes has been on TV since she was 13 and the talented teenager says she just wants to do good work and entertain audiences.

"The most important thing to me now is longevity. I'm only 16 and I have so much time ahead of me, so I'm n-o-t going to make any rushed things right now just to do something," she says. " I have time and I want to do something that's important."

What A Girl Wants slips to number three.

Phone Booth is a taut psychological thriller with Colin Farrell as a fast and loose New Yorker forced to confront his own transgressions when he's trapped a Manhattan telephone booth by a menacing, unseen sniper given voice by Kiefer Sutherland.

"I didn't want him necessarily to be menacing. What I wanted was for him to be in control," says Sutherland. " I find that when someone is in control they're calm, deliberate, focused and succinct; so I tried to create a voice that was in control; and control from a voice that you don't ever see becomes menacing very quickly . . . certainly in this circumstance."

Phone Booth opened up at number one last week, but is bumped down to second place by the blockbuster debut of an unlikely pairing: shock comic Adam Sandler and Oscar-winning actor Jack Nicholson co-star in Anger Management.

Prone to angry outbursts, Sandler's character is sentenced to undergo treatment administered by unorthodox therapist Nicholson.

"I don't know that they wrote it specifically for me or n-o-t, but he brought the idea to me. I knew him only slightly. I knew his work and was interested in it; and then I wrote it for me," he says.

Also featuring Marisa Tomei and John Turturro, Anger Management is all the rage. The biggest opening ever for an April release, it starts its run as the new most popular movie at North American theaters.