Dave Karger
August 30, 2004 AT 04:00 AM EDT

”Hero” lived up to its name at the box office this weekend, claiming the top spot to become the second No. 1 foreign-language film of the year.

Six months after the debut of ”The Passion of the Christ,” which was in Latin and Aramaic, Jet Li’s action thriller premiered with $17.8 million domestically, after a mega-successful international run in 2002. ”Hero”’s tally, however, was lower than the $18.1 million of last week’s top film, ”Exorcist: The Beginning.”

The sequel ”Anacondas: Hunt for the Blood Orchid” had to settle for second place despite opening in almost 1,000 more theaters than ”Hero.” ”Anacondas”’ $13.2 million gross is a bit lower than the $16.6 million debut of the original, which starred Jennifer Lopez, in 1997.

The goofy comedy ”Without a Paddle” slipped a surprisingly low 36 percent from its debut last weekend, placing third with $8.7 million, while ”The Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement” dropped 38 percent to $8.1 million. Meanwhile, ”Exorcist” plummeted 63 percent to only $6.7 million in its second weekend.

The week’s two other new wide releases tanked: The thriller ”Suspect Zero” grossed $3.4 million (10th place), while the sequel ”Superbabies: Baby Geniuses 2” placed 11th, with $3.3 million. Maybe they should have dubbed their dialogue into Chinese.

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