''U-571'' sinks ''Rules of Engagement'' to become No. 1 | EW.com

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''U-571'' sinks ''Rules of Engagement'' to become No. 1

And ''Love & Basketball'' scores a slam dunk, while ''Gossip'' dies on the grapevine

U-571, Matthew McConaughey

TOPEDOING THE ENEMY McConaughey's ''U-571'' wins the box office war (<!-- -->)

”U-571,” the WWII submarine tale starring Matthew McConaughey and Harvey Keitel, raked in $20.3 million over the weekend to steal the No. 1 spot away from Tommy Lee Jones’ ”Rules of Engagement.” Despite Jones’ formidable staying power, ”U-571”’s winning debut isn’t much of a surprise considering the winning tradition of recent sub dramas ”The Hunt for Red October” and ”Crimson Tide,” which also opened at the top of the charts. ”Engagement” dropped to third with $8 million. Sandwiched between the two military dramas was ”Love & Basketball,” the Spike Lee-produced romance starring Omar Epps.

The rest of the top 5 was filled with familiar faces. ”28 Days” took fourth place with $7.4 million, dropping a reasonable 28 percent from last week; and ”Keeping the Faith” held steady in fifth place, with $7.3 million. Not all of last week’s hits were so lucky, however. Despite positive reviews and plenty of hype, ”American Psycho” dropped 45 percent to No. 11 with $2.7 million. But even more disappointing was the debut of the teen thriller ”Gossip.” With few big stars and a limited advertising campaign, the movie landed at number 12 with a feeble $2.3 million.

CRITICAL MASS Though ”U-571” bested ”Love & Basketball” this weekend, the scenario could be reversed next week if our Online Critical Mass poll is any indication. Both films scored well, with ”U-571” earning a B+ overall and ”Love & Basketball” receiving an A. And though ”U-571” hardly qualifies as a chick flick, the movie scored higher with women than with men, earning an A- from female viewers and a B+ from the guys.

But it was ”Love & Basketball” that inspired the most excitement, with 55 percent of readers saying they were very likely to see the film again, and a whopping 87 percent admitting they were likely to recommend the movie to their friends. Seventy-seven percent said the film was better than they expected, topping ”U-571”’s admirable showing of 64 percent in that category. But whether or not ”Love” conquers war next weekend, it isn’t likely either film will drop out of the top 5 unless Tommy Lee Jones comes out with his own basketball-themed romantic submarine drama. To vote on these and other current movies, visit Critical Mass Online.