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Wonderers wondering if the enormous box office take will help the soundtrack hold off competitors on the album chart. While Eminem’s 8 Mile soundtrack set the #1 bar pretty darn high at 740k-plus last week, Justin Timberlake's new release could cut Mr. Mathers’ reign short.

EMINEM LEADS BY A MILE

Film’s Huge $54 Million Debut Bodes Well for Soundtrack Sales
Is there anyone bigger than Eminem? Not today.

8 Mile, Eminem’s semi-autobiographical film debut, took in a whopping $54.5 million in its first weekend—the sort of success that eludes most pop stars when they try to cross over to film.

The movie was the second-best opening ever for an R-rated film behind Hannibal, which debuted last year with $58 million.

The enormous first weekend tally bodes well for the film’s corresponding soundtrack (Shady/Interscope/UMG Soundtracks), which features four new tunes by the rapper. Last week, the 8 Mile soundtrack debuted at #1 on sales of 740,000 units, and sales were expected to soften—that is, until reports of the weekend’s boffo boxoffice were released.

Wonderers wondering if the enormous box office take will help the soundtrack hold off competitors on the album chart. While Eminem’s 8 Mile soundtrack set the #1 bar pretty darn high at 740k-plus last week, one of this week’s new releases looks like it could cut Mr. Mathers’ reign short. NSYSNC heartthrob Justin Timberlake’s highly anticipated solo bow, Justified (Jive) looks likely to have a first week in the 550k-600k range. We will have to wait until later to see how this one plays out.

The triumph of 8 Mile also follows the the chart-topping success of the singer's latest album, The Eminem Show, which is still firmly placed in the top 10 despite being released in May.

8 Mile bumped last weekend's No. 1 movie, The Santa Clause 2, into second place with $24.8 million, according to studio estimates Sunday.

The movie's huge opening indicates Eminem has gained more mainstream acceptance after critics branded him a homophobe and misogynist for violent, obscenity-laced lyrics on his previous best-selling records.

Universal, which distributed the movie, said women made up 53% of the audience. And while 69% of the audience was younger than 25, a fair number of older adults showed up, the studio said.

The weekend's only other new wide release, Brian De Palma's crime thriller Femme Fatale, opened weakly at No. 9 with $2.8 million, averaging $2,655 in 1,066 theaters.

The big debut and strong results for holdover films lifted the overall box office. The top 12 movies grossed $133.8 million, up 15% over the same weekend last year.

The Ring finished in third on $16 million, while I Spy came in fourth with $9 million. Jackass: The Movie rounds out the top 5 with $7.2 million.

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