Escapism was the theme at the box office this weekend, with Hardball, a heartfelt dramedy about little league baseball, scoring $9.4 million to top all movies.

With no sports events to watch and a need for moviegoers to take their minds off the terrorist attacks of September 11, the Paramount movie was the first choice for those seeking an uplifting tale. Keanu Reeves stars as a down-on-his-luck compulsive gambler who finds purpose and redemption coaching an inner-city team. The PG-13-rated film averaged $4,400 at 2,137 sites, according to final studio figures Monday.

Some moviegoers chose another kind of escapism--the standard teen thriller. Although some critics pegged it as an unintentional laugh riot, The Glass House, starring Leelee Sobieski as the object of cliché scary stuff, earned $5.7 million in second place. The PG-13 Sony movie, the week's only other major new release, had a per-screen average of $3,600 at 1,591 locations.

The top 12 films grossed an estimated $52.2 million, up 38 percent from the same time last year when normal life in America included professional football and baseball games. (This year's higher ticket prices also had some impact on that statistic.)

The overall take was down nearly 15 percent from last weekend, before the horrific attacks in New York and Washington, D.C. Movie theaters were fairly deserted on Friday, which was designated a national day of remembrance, but by Saturday people had started to show up at the nation's megaplexes.

Although not in the top 10, the G-rated Disney family movie The Princess Diaries became the 13th film this year to pass the $100 million mark. The fantasy about a high-school nerd who discovers she's royal took in $2.5 million in 11th place.

Last week's number one, The Musketeer, a classic tale injected with modern Matrix-style stunts, dropped to third place. Losing 47 percent of its audience, it earned $5.5 million.

According to Exhibitor Relations, which tallies the grosses, here are the top 10:

1. Hardball, $9.4 million
2. The Glass House, $5.7 million
3. The Musketeer, $5.5 million
4. Two Can Play That Game, $4.6 million, $4.8 million
5. The Others, $4.57 million
6. Rush Hour 2, $4.1 million
7. Jeepers Creepers, $3.8 million
8. American Pie 2, $3.6 million
9. Rat Race, $3.55 million
10. Rock Star $3.4 million

(originally published 9/16/01 at 1:35 pm PT)

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