Originally created 02/23/98

Titanic' surpasses `E.T.' as No. 2 domestic best seller



LOS ANGELES -- "Titanic" reigned at the box office for the 10th weekend in row, drowning out "The Wedding Singer" and passing "E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial" as the No. 2 domestic film of all time.

The ocean-liner epic topped the North American box office with $21 million over the weekend, according to industry estimates Sunday by Exhibitor Relations Co. Inc. That gives "Titanic" -- nominated for 14 Academy Awards -- a 10-week total of $402.5 million, beating the "E.T" take of $399.8 million.

James Cameron's three-hour-plus film now lags only behind "Star Wars," which took in $461 million at North American theaters. That includes the gross from its re-release last year.

"At its present rate, it should top `Star Wars' before the Oscar awards (on March 23) and that would give it another boost," said Robert Bucksbaum, publisher of Reel Source, a weekly industry newsletter.

"It's going to be a billion-dollar movie," said John Krier of Exhibitor Relations.

"The Wedding Singer," a romantic comedy starring Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore, was No. 2 for the second-week in a row, taking in $12.7 million.

"Sphere," a futuristic underwater thriller starring Sharon Stone, Dustin Hoffman and Samuel L. Jackson, dropped 56 percent in its second week to place No. 3 with a gross of $7.3 million.

"Good Will Hunting," an Oscar nominee for best picture, was fourth with $6.4 million.

Other best picture nominees also stayed in the top 10.

"As Good As It Gets" was sixth and "L.A. Confidential" was 10th.

Two new films also made the list.

"Senseless," a comedy starring Marlon Wayans and David Spade, was in fifth place with $5.5 million. "Palmetto," a thriller with Woody Harrelson and Elisabeth Shue, was 10th with $3 million.

Final figures were to be released Monday.

Top 10 movies

Estimated grosses for the top 10 movies at North American theaters for Friday through Sunday:

1. "Titanic," $21 million.

2. "The Wedding Singer," $12.7 million.

3. "Sphere," $7.3 million.

4. "Good Will Hunting," $6.4 million.

5. "Senseless," $5.5 million.

6. "As Good As It Gets," $4.5 million.

7. "The Borrowers," $4.3 million.

8. "Palmetto," $3 million.

9. "The Apostle," $2.4 million.

10. "L.A. Confidential," $2.3 million.