Man on Fire: Carlos Somante
Dave Karger
April 24, 2004 AT 04:00 AM EDT

It was a squeaker at the box office this weekend, as Denzel Washington’s “Man on Fire” narrowly topped Jennifer Garner’s “13 Going On 30.”

“Fire” premiered with $23 million, according to studio estimates, while “13” debuted close behind with $22 million. For Washington, “Fire” opened stronger than his last thriller, “Out of Time,” which debuted with $16.2 million last October. And Garner, who’s been touted as the “next Julia Roberts,” easily bested Roberts’ “Mona Lisa Smile,” which opened with $11.5 million last December. “13 Going On 30” was actually ahead of “Man on Fire” after Friday, but “Fire” managed a stronger Saturday to win the weekend. Unless, of course, the final numbers don’t hold up.

Last week’s top two films each took huge drops in their second weekend. “Kill Bill — Vol. 2” plummeted 59 percent to $10.4 million, while “The Punisher” slipped 56 percent to $6.1 million. The violent films have grossed $43 million and $24 million, respectively, after 10 days of release.

And Disney’s animated film “Home on the Range” logged a second weekend at No. 5, falling 37 percent to $3.2 million and bringing its total to $42.5 million. With next week’s new entries failing to garner much buzz, Denzel and Jennifer could make it two weeks at the top of the chart.

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