Weekend Box Office (January 1 - 3, 1999)

THIS WEEKEND The New Year's Day frame, not typically known as a launching pad for new films, saw the same faces as last weekend as another record box office year came to a close. With the holiday falling on a Friday, ticket sales surged that day but brutal winter storms in the midwest clobbered sales in that heavily-populated region on Saturday. Still, the box office delivered one of the highest-grossing January weekends in history.

Remaining at number one for the second straight weekend, Patch Adams starring Robin Williams collected $19.1M, down 25%, according to final figures. After only ten days, the medical school comedy has earned a bountiful $65.5M making it Universal's highest-grossing film since The Lost World from the summer of 1997. With Patch Adams, funny man Robin Williams has now had a movie go to number one every year for nine consecutive years, proving that he is one of the most bankable stars in existence. The Tom Shadyac-directed hit should break through the $100M mark by the end of the month giving Williams his eighth such blockbuster.

Still in the runnerup spot, Sony's Stepmom cuddled up with $14.6M in its second marriage. Off a respectable 24%, the Julia Roberts-Susan Sarandon pic has now grossed $50M in its first ten days and still has a good chance of reaching the century mark depending on how it holds up in the post-holiday weeks ahead.

You've Got Mail, starring Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan, downloaded another $14.2M to push its 17-day cume to a fantastic $77.9M. Mail currently ranks as the fourth best grosser for the Queen of Romance after Sleepless in Seattle ($127M), When Harry Met Sally ($92M), and City of Angels ($79M). For Mr. Gump, the Warner Bros. romantic comedy should become his eighth $100M blockbuster later this month.

All three films offered upbeat humor, a touch of serious drama, and some of Hollywood's most popular stars. North American moviegoers decided that these pictures were just what they wanted to see this time of year and spent nearly $200M buying tickets to these three films over the holiday season.

Staying put in fourth place was Moses starring in his animated feature debut The Prince of Egypt which commanded $11.2M over the New Year's weekend. Down 26%, the DreamWorks pic has summoned $66.4M in 17 days and now ranks as the third highest-grossing non-Disney toon ever. Prince enters 1999 standing a good chance of surpassing Antz and The Rugrats Movie to take that crown by the end of its domestic run.

Crawling up two notches to fifth, another animated hit, A Bug's Life, chomped on $8.8M. Easing by 13%, the Disney/Pixar creation has gathered a massive $136.4M between Thanksgiving and New Year's. By comparison, Toy Story grossed about $150M during the same period in 1995 (though New Year's Day fell on a Monday that year increasing the period by one day) representing 78% of its overall $192M domestic tally. The post-holiday period will indicate how high Bug's will reach, but a final gross near $165-175M seems likely.

Disney stablemate Mighty Joe Young captured $8.1M in its sophomore frame pushing its ten-day cume to $28.1M. The Faculty fell 36% to place seventh with $7.5M. The Robert Rodriguez thriller has now scared up $25.9M over ten days.

Eighth place was claimed by Enemy of the State with $4.8M. Off just 10%, the Jerry Bruckheimer-produced action hit has now amassed $96.8M and is set to cross $100M next weekend. A popular alternative to the comedies and family films dominating theaters this holiday season, Enemy remains the oldest title in the top ten and has displayed very good staying power as most Bruckheimer action hits have done in the past.

The crew of the Enterprise ranked ninth with Star Trek: Insurrection which grossed $4.7M and was one of the few films to see ticket sales increase on Saturday over Friday. But its 35% depreciation was one of the heaviest of any film in the top ten and its cume is now at $58.6M. If Insurrection continues on its current course, it should end up being the second lowest-grossing Trek film in the series of nine installments.

Miramax's critically-acclaimed period comedy Shakespeare in Love starring Gwenyth Paltrow took tenth with $3.2M and grabbed $10,609 per site in 299 locations easily giving it the best per-theater average in the top ten. Elsewhere, The Rugrats Movie has climbed up to $89.2M, The Waterboy has tackled $150M, and Elizabeth has inherited $16.5M to date.

In limited release, The Thin Red Line was creating tremendously long lines in New York and Los Angeles with $375,636 in only seven theaters for an explosive $53,662 per camp. Playing By Heart opened in Los Angeles for an exclusive run and collected an impressive $28,000 in one cinema. On the other hand, Woody Harrelson's western drama The Hi-Lo Country saw just $6,363 per ranch.

Compared to projections, most films performed near or a little below my forecasts.

Take this week's NEW Reader Survey on the most surprising box office events of 1998. In last week's survey, readers were asked if they saw more movies at theaters in 1998 than in the previous year. Of 1,129 responses, 54% said yes, 24% answered no, while 22% stated they saw the same amount of films.

Be sure to read the Weekly Rewind column which reports on the number one movies each weekend of the past year. This Wednesday's new column will look at John Travolta's box office record. For a review of Patch Adams visit Chief's Movie Review Page.

The top ten films grossed $96.2M which was down 4% from last year when Titanic was anchored at number one with $33.3M, and up 37% from 1997 when Michael remained in first place with $12.1M.

Be sure to check back on Thursday for a complete summary, including projections, for next weekend when John Travolta's A Civil Action opens nationwide.

Marketplace: Shop for movies, DVDs, music, and books at discounted prices using search engines

Below are final studio figures for the weekend. Click on the title to jump to its official home page:

# Title Jan 1 - 3 Dec 25 - 27 % Chg. Theaters Weeks AVG Cumulative Dist.
1 Patch Adams $ 19,050,675 $ 25,262,280 -24.6 2,751 2 $ 6,925 $ 65,495,000 Universal
2 Stepmom 14,582,227 19,142,440 -23.8 2,358 2 6,184 50,017,838 Sony
3 You've Got Mail 14,176,243 18,101,967 -21.7 2,776 3 5,107 77,938,617 Warner Bros.
4 The Prince of Egypt 11,244,612 15,119,107 -25.6 3,202 3 3,512 66,351,243 DreamWorks
5 A Bug's Life 8,830,882 10,126,455 -12.8 2,551 7 3,462 136,420,446 BV
6 Mighty Joe Young 8,119,749 10,602,042 -23.4 2,544 2 3,192 28,148,105 BV
7 The Faculty 7,485,668 11,633,495 -35.7 2,365 2 3,165 25,894,803 Miramax
8 Enemy of the State 4,788,756 5,295,377 -9.6 1,539 7 3,112 96,816,659 BV
9 Star Trek: Insurrection 4,748,716 7,304,179 -35.0 2,516 4 1,887 58,644,099 Paramount
10 Shakespeare in Love 3,172,107 2,609,894 21.5 299 4 10,609 9,411,676 Miramax
11 Jack Frost 3,166,282 3,903,021 -18.9 2,135 4 1,483 31,153,045 Warner Bros.
12 The Rugrats Movie 2,752,148 2,666,292 3.2 2,002 7 1,375 89,183,190 Paramount
13 The Waterboy 2,142,483 2,332,774 -8.2 1,242 9 1,725 150,037,914 BV
14 Waking Ned Devine 1,619,160 1,664,179 -2.7 269 7 6,019 6,954,620 Fox Searchlight
15 Rush Hour 1,468,941 1,551,791 -5.3 1,016 16 1,446 137,534,276 New Line
16 Down in the Delta 1,080,775 1,636,678 -34.0 416 2 2,598 3,578,332 Miramax
17 Life is Beautiful 1,073,415 988,234 8.6 225 11 4,771 11,409,840 Miramax
18 Elizabeth 1,037,419 854,052 21.5 452 9 2,295 16,510,380 Gramercy
19 Antz 546,012 552,428 -1.2 775 14 705 89,214,361 DreamWorks
20 A Simple Plan 512,070 444,014 15.3 80 4 6,401 2,515,990 Paramount
Top 5 $ 67,884,639 $ 89,259,289 -23.9
Top 10 96,199,635 126,490,363 -23.9
Top 20 111,598,340 141,878,417 -21.3

    This column is updated three times each week : Thursday (upcoming weekend's summary), Sunday (post-weekend analysis with estimates), and Monday night (actuals). Source : EDI, Exhibitor Relations. Opinions expressed in this column are those solely of the author.

Last Updated : January 4, 1999 at 10:00PM ESTHome

Written by Gitesh Pandya