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Why Nemo's a Hit and Brad Pitt Wasn't

07/25/2003 AT 10:44 AM EDT

This weekend's box office will be quite a horserace, with the opening of Tobey Maguire in "Seabiscuit," which has received fairly good to mixed reviews. How it will fare is anybody's guess, because, so far, the summer clearly belongs to a fish -- though the season has also had its fair share of turkeys, including one starring Harrison Ford and another the voice of Brad Pitt.

In Friday's "Hollywood Report" in the Wall Street Journal, the newspaper analyzes the summer box office to date. The winners are "Finding Nemo," a Disney/Pixar comedy about a father's search for his lost son (both characters are fish), which is the runaway (swimaway?) champ with $303.8 million in its coffers.

"Nemo" is followed in the winner's circle by "The Matrix Reloaded," with Keanu Reeves ($275.2 million); "Bruce Almighty," with Jim Carrey ($235.9 million); "X2: X-Men United," with Halle Berry ($214.2 million); and "Pirates of the Caribbean" with Johnny Depp ($133 million), reports the Journal.

But at the other end of the spectrum comes the sappy "Alex & Emma," with Kate Hudson and Luke Wilson, which made a lousy $13.9 million. The Journal blames the failure on its director, Rob Reiner, noting that his eyes are focused more these days on a looming political career.

Other losers include "The In-Laws,"($20.4 million), which bears out the Journal's theory that Michael Douglas was never known for his comedy (although "Romancing the Stone," in its day, had its moments), while costar Albert Brooks was never a box-office name (though he did supply the daddy fish's voice in "Nemo"). It was beaten even by "Dumb and Dumberer: When Harry Met Lloyd" ($25.7 million), which had no names attached.

Which brings up the big-name flops: Harrison Ford and Josh Hartnett in Ron Shelton's "Hollywood Homicide" and Brad Pitt in the animated "Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas."

"Homicide" ($29.9 million) was mediocre on every level, states the Journal, adding that it didn't help that Ford, 60, looked uncomfortable in every TV interview, while the failure of "Sinbad" ($18.8 million) is blamed on the public's boredom with old-fashioned animation and the fact that Disney's rival live-action "Pirates of the Caribbean" opened while "Sinbad" had only been out two weeks, killing any hopes of building business.

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