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"Zorro" fought his way to the top of box office sales this weekend

'Zorro' makes its mark on the box office

Web posted on: Monday, July 20, 1998 4:54:29 PM

LOS ANGELES (CNN) -- Instead of his trademark "Z," Zorro might want to switch to a new symbol: the dollar sign.

"The Mask of Zorro," the romantic action-adventure flick starring Antonio Banderas, Anthony Hopkins and Catherine Zeta-Jones, scored a No. 1 ranking in its first weekend at the box office, raking in $22.7 million. Its nearest competition, last week's topper "Lethal Weapon 4," earned only $21.2 million over the July 17 weekend.

Review: 'The Mask of Zorro' a swashbuckling delight
Entire theatrical trailer:
7.1Mb QuickTime Movie

The season maintained a record-setting pace, with weekend ticket sales up 11 percent over the same period last year on the strength of a wide range of films doing strong business, instead of one or two mega-hits.

Six films have already earned more than $100 million in North America, though none appears likely to break the $200 million mark. This weekend, four movies made more than $10 million with healthy per-screen averages of $5,000 and up.

In all this competition, it was "Zorro" that sliced to the top, mixing breath-taking stunts with its stars' breathtaking beauty.

The dance between Banderas and Zeta-Jones raises a few eyebrows

'It's a horrible job'

Banderas plays the young Zorro, who learns the avenging hero trade from Hopkins' aging, retired Zorro figure. Zeta-Jones plays the swashbuckling object of Zorro's passion.

In a recent visit with the stars of the movie, Zeta-Jones placed tongue firmly in cheek and told CNN she had a tough time getting passionate with Banderas.

"It's a horrible job but somebody has to do it," the actress joked. "Utterly crushing, terrible, terrible time I had, trying to build myself up as an actress to kiss Antonio Banderas. I went through hours of preparation -- mentally, physically, it was a hard one."

Zeta-Jones also enjoyed some camaraderie with Hopkins, who hails from her part of the world -- Wales -- and had worked with her on another production.

"Me and Tony used to play around the set and speak with a really strong Welsh accent and the dialect coach and director would go, 'Oh God,'" she says.

Hopkins performed some stunts himself, including snuffing out candles with the crack of his whip

Don't touch his sword

Meanwhile, Banderas says he dove into the role of Zorro, stunts and all.

"I don't even like people touching my sword in the movie," Banderas says. "It makes me a little bit nervous. And some of the stunts -- the insurance companies say, 'No way you are going to do that.' But when I could I just sneak around and convince the producer and call the insurance company."

Fortunately, no one was seriously injured in the filming of the production. Now, the movie is paying dividends in the millions.

Correspondent Paul Vercammen contributed to this report.

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