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<i>Signs</i> Tops US Most Popular Movie List - 2002-09-04

The Signs point to a good holiday weekend for the latest Mel Gibson blockbuster; but the big box office story at North American theaters continues to be a big fat comedy about family and love. Alan Silverman lists the top five films starting with an internet horror story at number five.

"The one thing that all the victims have in common is the 'fear' site. We have to get these computers checked out!"

In, a killer stalks players who log on to an internet game. Natasha McElhone co-stars.

"It deals with, I supposed, the impossible and supernatural to some degree," she explains, "but some people would argue that the progress of technology and computers is such that, with artificial intelligence, perhaps we'll arrive at something like this some day anyway. So I guess it's trying to exaggerate reality as it is right now." debuts at number five.

The family-friendly adventure Spy Kids II: The Island of Lost Dreams slips to fourth place. After the original Spy Kids last year, writer-director Robert Rodriguez says he turned down an offer of more money to make a sequel.

"I said I want to make a bigger movie too, but I don't want any more money," Rodriguez said. " I want the same budget because the money is not going to make it bigger, it's the ideas. If you watch the movie, ideas like they walk into a room and they can't hear each other talk....that doesn't cost money. It's really the idea that gets bigger and the size of the movie grows if you think creatively bigger and not let the money get in the way. I knew that what would make the movie bigger and better was to be even more creative than the first time."

"I'm going to give you the one gadget you should always carry."

Spy Kids II: The Island of Lost Dreams sneaks into fourth place.

An espionage adventure of another sort, the action-packed XXX Vin Diesel as a "new breed of secret agent." Italian actress Asia Argento co-stars as the beautiful adversary.

"I didn't expect the acting to be so important in an action movie; but I was not scared," she admits. " Everything felt very secure. Also, when you're shooting you overcome your fears because you feel invinceable. You feel that nothing can happen to you, so I wasn't scared even though I did things that were kind of tricky."

XXX drops to number three.

The little film that's beating all the big blockbusters climbs up the chart to second place.

"I'm Greek right? You have two cousins. I have 27 first cousins! Twenty-seven first cousins alone and my whole family is big and loud, everybody is in each other's lives and business all the time and you never have a minute alone just to think because we're always together, eating, eating, eating!"

My Big Fat Greek Wedding is based, in part, on the life of its writer and star, Nia Vardalos and the culture clash with her Greek-American family when she fell in love with and married a non-Greek. It was a originally a one-woman play which Greek-American actress Rita Wilson saw and decided, with non-Greek husband Tom Hanks, to produce as a film.

"Of course this is like my family," Ms. Wilson says, "I totally relate [to it] but this is like anybody's family that comes from any ethnicity at all. We felt that way all along. We felt the themes were universal. The other theme that I responded to was that being a first generation American, there was the pride I experienced vicariously through my parents naturalizing and becoming American citizens. To me it was really a film about being American and still being proud of your heritage: not letting go of that, but just that it enhances your pride of being an American also."

Five months after its initial release and playing at less than half the number of theaters as the other films in the top five Greek Wedding continues to build audiences. Dubbed "the little film that could," My Big Fat Greek Wedding moves up to number two, just behind the psychological thriller held over in first place.

"There's a monster outside my room. Can I have a glass of water?"

Signs stars Mel Gibson as a former minister who has lost his faith until mysterious formations, crop circles, appear in his cornfield, defying Earthly explanation. Written and directed by M. Night Shyamalan, Signs remains the most popular movie at North American theaters.