Punisher Gets Spanking From Bill

It was vengeance unlimited at the North American box office over the weekend as genre fans lined up to see Miramax’s Kill Bill: Vol 2 and Lions Gate’s big-screen adaptation of the Marvel comic The Punisher. When the body counts and estimated box office receipts were tallied, director Quentin Tarantino’s latest entry easily claimed the top spot, which had been held by Disney’ animated Home on the Range during the week.

Kill Bill: Vol 2 racked up an estimated $25.5 million in its first three days of release. The homage to chop-socky theater and spaghetti Westerns stars Uma Thurman as a retired assassin out to get revenge against the former colleagues who gunned her down at her own wedding. Vol. 1 opened in October of 2003 to the tune of $22 million and went on to earn $70 million. Both halves were made for the single price of $30 million and were originally intended to be released as one four-hour movie before Miramax decided to follow suit with the Matrix sequels and break it up into two installments. Home video sales of Vol. 1 alone have earned back the production budget with two million units bought on the first day of availability.

The Punisher made an estimated $14 million for Lions Gate and Marvel. The film stars Thomas Jane as Frank Castle, a former CIA operative out to serve up his own brand of justice after his wife and son are killed in retaliation for his last job. The flick lost much of its target audience to Kill Bill but should see strong business next weekend as those moviegoers return to theaters.

Home on the Range continues with its upswing, landing back in the top five after slumping to No. 6 last weekend. The 2D-animated comedy earned around $5.4 million over the weekend to grab the No. 5 spot behind Fox Searchlight’s Johnson Family Vacation ($4.4 million) and Sony/Revolution Studios’ Hellboy ($5.7 million.) The family toon will face some competition this Friday when the Warner Bros./Scholastic feature Clifford’s Really Big Movie opens in limited release.