LOS ANGELES -- The season of smarter cinema continues as classy Oscar hopefuls such as "The Lord of the Rings," "A Beautiful Mind" and "The Royal Tenenbaums" packed in audiences.
"The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring" grossed $23 million to remain the No. 1 movie for the third straight weekend, according to studio estimates Sunday. The movie pushed its total to $205.5 million in just 19 days, becoming a record sixth film released in 2001 to cross the $200 million mark.
"A Beautiful Mind," starring Russell Crowe as schizophrenic genius John Nash, expanded to wide release and climbed to second place with $16.6 million.
"The Royal Tenenbaums," with Gene Hackman as the outcast patriarch of a family of brilliant failures, also went into more theaters after a stellar run in limited release. The film came in at No. 5 with $8.5 million.
"I think what audiences are looking for is something smart and funny, and we delivered on both those scores," said Chuck Viane, head of distribution for Disney, whose Touchstone Pictures banner released "Royal Tenenbaums."
With $5.9 million over the weekend, "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone" edged past $300 million, the first movie since "Star Wars: Episode I -- The Phantom Menace" to hit that level. "Harry Potter" also has climbed to No. 10 on the list of all-time top-grossing films domestically, knocking off "The Sixth Sense."
The weekend's only new film, Gary Sinise's sci-fi tale "Impostor," opened weakly with $3.2 million, finishing well out of the top 10.
"A Beautiful Mind," "The Royal Tenenbaums" and "Fellowship of the Ring" scored early triumphs Saturday in Hollywood's awards season. "Fellowship of the Ring" dominated the new AFI Awards, winning for best picture and taking two technical awards. Hackman won the supporting-actor award, and "A Beautiful Mind" co-star Jennifer Connelly earned the supporting-actress prize.
"A Beautiful Mind" and "Fellowship of the Ring" are among leading nominees for the Golden Globes on Jan. 20, while Hackman has a lead-actor nomination in the Globes' musical or comedy category.
Such honors become marketing tools for adult-oriented films like "A Beautiful Mind" and "The Royal Tenenbaums," whose distributors rolled them out slowly, counting on Hollywood honors and strong buzz from audiences.
"The best selling tool for the film was the film itself," said Nikki Rocco, head of distribution for Universal, which released "A Beautiful Mind." "We wanted to go slowly and have time to get that word-of-mouth generated."
Playing in 751 locations, "Royal Tenenbaums" averaged an impressive $11,334 a theater, while "A Beautiful Mind" averaged $8,940 in 1,853 sites.
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