Box office tally ends in dead heat

'Man on Fire' likely No. 1

— Denzel Washington, who sets out to rescue a little girl in "Man on Fire," pushed aside another little girl in the comedy "13 Going on 30" to claim the top spot at the weekend box office.

The violent revenge thriller "Man on Fire" debuted with $23 million, while Jennifer Garner's lighthearted child-in-an-adult-body movie "13 Going on 30" came in at No. 2 with $22 million, according to studio estimates Sunday.

The difference is close enough that the films could switch places when final figures are released today.

This marks Washington's strongest opening since his Oscar-winning role in "Training Day," which opened in October 2001 with $22.5 million. He has lately had a lukewarm spell with the drama "Antwone Fisher" and the thriller "Out of Time."

In "Man on Fire," Washington stars as a security guard who goes on a vicious spree to save 10-year-old Dakota Fanning from kidnappers.

Garner, despite her fame from the "Alias" TV spy show, remains a relatively untested commodity among movie audiences, but her film's close second-place finish points to a star on the rise.

"This is a stepping stone to stardom," said Tom Sherak, a partner in Revolution Studios, which produced the movie for distributor Sony.

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