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<i>Men in Black II</i> Still Tops US Most Popular Movie List - 2002-07-20

The "Men in Black" continue to hold off outer space alien invaders and the box office competition to remain number one at North American theaters. Alan Silverman lists the top five films starting with a comic remake at number five.

Adam Sandler is the unlikely recipient of a multi-billion dollar fortune in a new take on the Frank Capra classic Mr. Deeds Goes to Town. Tumbling down the chart, Mr. Deeds ends up in fifth place.

New at number four, a horror movie sequel: the eighth film in the Halloween series featuring an unstoppable serial killer named Michael Myers. In Halloween: Resurrection, Jamie Lee Curtis reprises her role from the original film and turns over the "scream queen" title to newcomer Bianca Kajlich. This latest bloody chapter co-stars rap music star-turned-actor Busta Rhymes who says the horror films he recalls seeing as a kid hardly ever featured the kind of multi-ethnic cast that this one has.

"Personally, I don't even remember seeing any black actors in horror flicks to begin with," notes Rhymes, " so it's a cool thing that's happening. Secondly, it's a cool thing to know that the black guy could be the hero; but I don't really base it on that. I just base it on whether the story is hot. That's why is important."

Halloween: Resurrection rises to a fourth place debut.

The new number three film is a fresh twist on the old "dragon slayer" genre. Instead of menacing medieval castles, the fire-breathing creatures in Reign of Fire ravage London of a few decades in the future. Matthew McConnaughey plays an American soldier of fortune out to slay the beasts; Christian Bale co-stars as his English counterpart.

"The main concern for me was that I haven't seen a decent dragon movie. There really hasn't been anything where they were approached like predators, much like an alligator or a shark, where there is no real identifiable personality behind the eyes," explains Bale. "They are just a different species who is going around feeding and we happen to be part of their diet."

Also featuring Izabella Scorupco and vividly realistic, digitally created dragons, Rein of Fire roars into third place.

Road to Perdition is Oscar-winning director Sam Mendes' take on the gangster drama, co-starring Oscar-winner Paul Newman as a local crime boss and two-time Oscar-winner Tom Hanks as his loyal and deadly enforcer. Hanks admits being bit star-struck by Hollywood veteran Newman.

"The first scene [we shot] in this movie, all I did was leave the house and get in the car with Paul. I didn't know what was happening for the first two takes. It was like an out of body experience," says Hanks, "a moment of transcendence because I realized 'I'm looking in Paul Newman's eyes and we're getting in a car. I can't believe this.' Now he'd hate it if he even heard me saying that because he's a very regular guy , extremely down to earth at times and preoccupied with either salad dressing or auto racing; but that actually adds to the experience of working with him on such a concentrated level as making a movie."

Road to Perdition is this week's big box office success story. It came close to matching the ticket sales of the first place film, even though it is playing at less than half the number of theaters. The film shoots into second place, just behind the sci-fi comedy sequel held over at number one.

Men in Black II brings back Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones as agents of a super-secret government organization that polices the activities of outer space aliens on planet Earth, most of them in New York. Jones says he enjoyed making the comedy, but watching himself on screen is not a laughing matter for him.

"Sometimes I'm just amazed at how good Will is or how well a scene works and I laugh, I suppose in a knowing way," says Jones, "But I'm rather critical and analytical when I watch these movies. I certainly don't take them personally. It's not a personal experience for me."

Men in Black II is number one again: for the second straight week, the most popular movie at North American theaters.