Weekend Box Office (January 4 - 6, 2002)

By Sujit Chawla

THIS WEEKEND Ringing in the first weekend of 2002 in the same manner it said goodbye to 2001, the newly crowned American Film Institute Best Picture of the Year, The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring was tops at the box office this weekend while A Beautiful Mind had a strong second place finish.

For the 3rd straight weekend, New Line's fantasy-adventure The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring was the one that ruled them all at the box office. Picking up another $23M, according to final figures, Rings had a per screen average of $6,805 and its total now stands at $205.5M, crashing the all time charts at number 34. Rings will soon become the highest grossing film in New Line's history, needing only a few million more to pass the $226.1M of last summer's Rush Hour 2. Having already won one Best Picture award, Rings has a bright future ahead of it. With no new major films coming out over the next few weeks that could challenge Rings supremacy, the film has a good chance of hitting the all-time top 10 by Oscar nomination time in Feburary.

Expanding into 1,853 theaters was Universal's A Beautiful Mind. Directed by Ron Howard and starring Russell Crowe, Jennifer Connelly and Ed Harris, Mind captured just north of $16.5M for a strong per screen average of $8,942. With numerous mentions on critics end-of-year top 10 lists, and many award nominations already (including Connelly's win for Female Featured Actor at the AFI awards), Mind looks to remain strong throughout the winter/spring. With the film expected to pick up a few Academy nominations in February, it should find its way into the $100M club and beyond. Up 31% from last weekend's 5-day total, Mind's cume now stands at $37.8M.

Adding 460 theaters this week was the highly acclaimed The Royal Tennenbaums. Starring a who's who of Hollywood including Gwyneth Paltrow, Bill Murray, and AFI winner for Male Featured Actor Gene Hackman, Tennenbaums played in 751 theaters and gained $8.5M, working its way into 5th place on the charts. Its per screen average of $11,331 was tops in the top 10. Another film with many critical kudos, Tennenbaums will continue to add theaters in the weeks to come, and should have a strong, healthy run through the Academy season.

There was only one major new release this weekend, Miramax's sci-fi thriller Imposter, which crash-landed in 13th place. Starring Gary Sinise and Madeline Stowe, the film managed to gather only $3M, for a pathetic per screen average of $1,616. Imposter looks to make it to a total cume of $6-7M and then head quickly to the video racks, where it should enjoy a somewhat healthier second life.

Among other films in release, still remaining strong and landing in 3rd place this weekend was Warner Brothers' Ocean's 11. Picking up another $11M, its total now stands at $152M. Paramount's kid flick Jimmy Neutron landed in 4th place this weekend, with $9M. Falling 60% from last weekend's 5-day total, Neutron's cume now stands at a good $62.3M. In a slight reversal from preliminary estimates, Paramount entry Vanilla Sky landed in 6th place this weekend. While not quite the critical darling everyone expected from a Crowe/Cruise film, Sky has held on well, pulling in $7.1M this weekend, bringing its cume to a solid if not spectacular $81.1M. Sony's biopic Ali tumbled into 7th place this weekend, adding $7M to its total, which now stands at $49.5M. And falling to 8th place this week was Miramax's romantic comedy Kate & Leopold, which romanced its way to $6.1M, bringing its cume to $30.6M.

Looking at a couple of $200M+ grossers, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone has now entered the all-time top 10, adding another $5.9M to is coffers, bringing its cume to a whopping $300.4M. It now stands at number 10 all time, with the $306.2M of Independence Day within its sites. Disney/Pixar's Monsters Inc. remained in the top 10 for a 10th straight week, scaring up $3.8M this weekend, bringing its total to $244.6M. It now stands at number 20 on the all-time charts, just a hair behind another Disney/Pixar collaboration Toy Story 2 which grossed $245.7M back in 1999/2000. Disney also had sneak previews this weekend for Snow Dogs which played to 85% capacity and had excellent exit polls, according to a spokesman from Buena Vista, who also added he was thrilled with the results.

In limited release news, Sony's war drama Black Hawk Down continued to play to sold out theaters in New York and Los Angeles. Playing on only 4 screens, the film managed to make $193,021 for a whopping per screen average of $48,255. Its cume now stands at $558,812. From USA Films, Gosford Park grossed $1.5M for the weekend on 131 screens, for a per screen average of $11,962 bringing its cume to $2.19M. A trio of limited releases from Miramax continue to perform well, as In the Bedroom made $1.6M from 207 theaters for a per screen average of $7,912, The Shipping News gathered $1.1M from 213 theaters for a per screen average of $5,320 and Amelie made another $1M, for a per screen average of $4,515. Totals for the three films stand at $4.3M, $4.3M and $17.7M respectively. From New Line, I Am Sam, playing on 1 screen, made $25,993. And from Lions Gate, Monster's Ball gained $133,208 from 8 screens, and Lantana made $53,132 from 10 screens.

Compared to projections, A Beautiful Mind came in a couple notches below my $20M forecast, while Imposter came in just about dead on to my $3M prediction.

For reviews of A Beautiful Mind and The Lord of the Rings visit The Chief Report.

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# Title Jan 4 - 6 Dec 28 - 30 % Chg. Theaters Weeks AVG Cumulative Dist.
1 The Lord of the Rings $ 23,006,447 $ 38,695,582 -41 3,381 3 $ 6,805 $ 205,509,869 New Line
2 A Beautiful Mind 16,565,820 7,780,495 113 1,853 3 8,940 37,779,241 Universal
3 Ocean's Eleven 11,052,578 16,907,714 -35 2,770 5 3,990 151,967,372 Warner Bros.
4 Jimmy Neutron 9,015,854 15,035,649 -40 3,151 3 2,861 62,339,089 Paramount
5 The Royal Tenenbaums 8,514,122 4,975,779 71 751 3 11,337 20,697,480 Buena Vista
6 Vanilla Sky 7,125,023 11,515,135 -38 2,842 4 2,507 81,080,174 Paramount
7 Ali 7,006,528 14,710,892 -52 2,446 2 2,864 49,467,604 Sony
8 Kate & Leopold 6,125,410 9,725,408 -37 2,467 2 2,483 30,588,006 Miramax
9 Harry Potter 5,930,425 10,978,760 -46 2,681 8 2,212 300,404,434 Warner Bros.
10 Monsters, Inc. 3,877,647 6,103,901 -36 1,425 10 2,721 244,638,458 Buena Vista
Top 5 $ 68,154,821 $ 96,864,972 -30
Top 10 98,219,854 136,876,018 -28

Last Updated : January 7, 2002 at 6:00PM EST