The summer movie season went out with a whimper, as Jet Li's ''Hero'' remained at No. 1 at the box office in the face of extremely lackluster competition.
''Hero'' grossed $11.5 million over the Friday-to-Monday long weekend, according to studio estimates. By contrast, last year's top Labor Day film, ''Jeepers Creepers 2,'' earned $18.4 million. In fact, ''Hero'''s take marks the lowest for a No. 1 film since the weekend after Labor Day last year, when David Spade's ''Dickie Roberts: Former Child Star'' topped the charts with a mere $6.7 million.
Surprisingly, the goofy comedy ''Without a Paddle'' actually rose one spot to No. 2, with $9.4 million, while ''Anacondas: The Hunt for the Blood Orchid'' slipped to third, with $8 million.
Close behind was the best performing of the weekend's four new films: the drama ''Paparazzi,'' which earned a fair $7.9 million. Meanwhile, ''The Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement'' placed fifth, with $7.3 million.
That means the three other new releases placed out of the top five. Josh Hartnett's thriller ''Wicker Park'' came in at No. 6, with an embarrassing $6.8 million, while Reese Witherspoon's period drama ''Vanity Fair'' and the ensemble comedy ''The Cookout,'' featuring Queen Latifah, both grossed $6.1 million in about half the theaters of the rest of the top 10. Perhaps this coming weekend's ''Resident Evil'' sequel will shake things up a bit. But even that's not a sure thing.