LOS ANGELES -- With an assist from rapper DMX, Steven Seagal has regained his box-office luster as his action flick "Exit Wounds" debuted as the weekend's top movie.
The $18.5 million debut for "Exit Wounds" was about three times the opening weekend gross for each of Seagal's last two movies, "Fire Down Below" in 1997 and "The Glimmer Man" in 1996.
"Exit Wounds" also topped Seagal's previous best premiere of $14 million for "Under Siege" in 1992. In "Exit Wounds," Seagal plays a Detroit detective who works with a crime lord (DMX) to fight a police conspiracy.
"Everybody rises again in Hollywood, so this is his turn," said Paul Dergarabedian, president of Exhibitor Relations, which tracks the box office. "There's no question his career was in transition. This movie proves he's still a viable star."
Pairing Seagal with the popular rapper gave "Exit Wounds" broader appeal among younger, urban audiences, Dergarabedian said. The movie also opened on a weekend when there was little else for movie-goers who wanted a traditional action film, he said.
Women made up nearly half of the audience for "Exit Wounds," said Dan Fellman, head of distribution for Warner Bros., which released the movie. "I think they like Steven and the way he looked in the commercials," he said. "He looks great, he lost a lot of weight and cut his hair."
"Enemy at the Gates," a World War II adventure starring Jude Law and Ed Harris, premiered at No. 2 with $13.8 million.
Oscar best-picture nominees "Traffic" and "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" both passed $100 million over the weekend. Twenty-two movies released in 2000 crossed that mark, breaking the previous record of 21 set in 1999.
Three films did well in limited release: The convoluted revenge thriller "Memento" ($236,697 in 11 theaters for a $21,518 average); "The Dish," a comic look at an Australian satellite team's role in the first moon landing ($73,000 in six theaters for a $12,167 average); and "American Desi," a romantic comedy.
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