Weekend Box Office (January 11 - 13, 2002)

by Gitesh Pandya

THIS WEEKEND Once again, the North American box office was dominated by the megablockbuster The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Rings while Ron Howard's A Beautiful Mind remained close behind in second place. The new teen comedy Orange County enjoyed a solid third-place debut while the rest of the chart remained mostly the same with the notable exception of Robert Altman's Gosford Park which nudged its way into the top ten while not yet playing in full national release.

For the fourth, and most likely final, weekend The Lord of the Rings topped the box office collecting $16.2M, according to final studio figures, raising its spectacular cumulative total to a towering $228.3M after 26 days of release. The first installment of New Line Cinema's big-budget franchise gamble has become the first film since 2000's How the Grinch Stole Christmas to top the charts for four consecutive weeks. Down a reasonable 30% from last weekend, Rings now sits at number 27 on the All-Time Domestic Blockbusters list after 1997's The Lost World with $229.1M and ranks as the top-grossing title ever for New Line. Worldwide, the fantasy adventure continues to conjure up amazing grosses and has already taken in over $500M for New Line and its overseas distribution partners in less than a month of global release. With new titles opening on Friday, and A Beautiful Mind displaying amazing durability, The Lord of the Rings is likely to slip out of pole position next weekend.

Remaining in second place was Universal's acclaimed Russell Crowe drama A Beautiful Mind which took in $15.2M in its second weekend of nationwide release. The studio added 369 more theaters to the run of the Ron Howard-directed hit and witnessed a scant 8% dip in ticket sales. With a healthy cume of $58.4M, and a muscular per-theater average of $6,850, A Beautiful Mind should race past the $100M mark later this month. On Friday, the award-winning film picked up more momentum in its quest for Oscar gold by picking up four awards from the Broadcast Film Critics Association including best film, actor, supporting actress (Jennifer Connelly), and director (a tie with Moulin Rouge's Baz Luhrmann).

Debuting in third place was the teen comedy Orange County from Paramount and MTV Films with a solid $15.1M. Starring Colin Hanks and Jack Black, the PG-13 film played in 2,317 theaters and averaged a rosy $6,497 per location. The comedy follows the zany journey a bright high school student takes when the wrong transcript is sent to the admission board of his dream school, Stanford University. Orange County played mostly to a teen audience, according to studio data, as 80% of the audience was under the age of 21 with males and females being equally represented.

With a strong opening and the Dr. Martin Luther King holiday weekend set to help the sophomore frame, the $16M production should turn out to be another profitable venture for Paramount and MTV. The two Viacom units have concocted a winning formula for generating early-year dollars. Paramount and MTV previously hit gold this very weekend with the teen hits Save the Last Dance ($91M from last year) and Varsity Blues ($52.9M from 1999).

The blockbuster casino heist film Ocean's Eleven dipped 30% to $7.7M in its sixth venture and boosted its jackpot cume to $162.7M. The Warner Bros. release has become the highest-grossing film for director Steven Soderbergh. In fifth place was the ensemble hit The Royal Tenenbaums with $6.4M from only 905 theaters. Adding 154 engagements from last weekend, the Buena Vista release slipped just 25% averaging a meaty $7,081 per theater and lifted its total to $30M.

Paramount's animated adventure Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius saw sales fall 39% to $5.5M in its fourth frame and has taken in an encouraging $69.1M thus far. Gunning for another $100M hit, Tom Cruise placed seventh with the psychological thriller Vanilla Sky which grossed $5M, off 30%, giving the Paramount title $88.5M to date. The Cameron Crowe-directed picture should reach nine digits by the end of the month.

Miramax's romantic comedy Kate & Leopold eased only 23% to $4.7M and reached a cume of $37.2M since its Christmas Day launch. Robert Altman's critically-acclaimed film Gosford Park widened its run from 131 to 518 theaters and climbed to $3.7M. The USA Films release averaged a strong $7,113 per location for the best average in the top ten and has collected $6.6M to date.

Rounding out the top ten in its ninth weekend of release was last year's biggest blockbuster, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, with $3.7M. Down 38%, the Warner Bros. smash has now taken in a mammoth $305.3M putting it at number nine on the All-Time Domestic Blockbusters list. Worldwide, Harry Potter has been an absolute phenomenon grossing over $850M and counting.

Getting clobbered in its early rounds, Sony's Will Smith vehicle Ali crumbled in its third full weekend of release falling 52% to $3.3M. After just two weeks in the top ten, the R-rated drama has grossed a disappointing $54.5M and looks headed for a final take of about $60M. With a reported production budget of $105M, tens of millions more spent on an aggressive marketing campaign, and a not-so-rosy outlook in overseas markets, Ali will face an immense struggle to find a road to profitability.

Opening with ferocius results in limited release was the French-language period thriller Brotherhood of the Wolf which grossed $475,181 from only 21 theaters in 13 markets. Averaging a brawny $22,628 per venue, the R-rated Universal Focus title expands into 25 markets next weekend for a total of 85-100 theaters.

The top ten films grossed $83.3M which was down 27% from the three-day portion of last year's MLK holiday frame when Save the Last Dance opened in the top spot with $23.4M; but up 8% from 2000 when Next Friday debuted at number one with $14.5M.

For a review of Orange County visit The Chief Report.

Be sure to check back on Thursday for a complete summary, including projections, for next weekend when Snow Dogs and Black Hawk Down open nationwide.

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

# Title Jan 11 - 13 Jan 4 - 6 % Chg. Theaters Weeks AVG Cumulative Dist.
1 The Lord of the Rings $ 16,201,260 $ 23,006,447 -30 3,381 4 $ 4,792 $ 228,320,875 New Line
2 A Beautiful Mind 15,220,705 16,565,820 -8 2,222 4 6,850 58,420,716 Universal
3 Orange County 15,053,226 2,317 1 6,497 15,053,226 Paramount
4 Ocean's Eleven 7,738,381 11,052,578 -30 2,670 6 2,898 162,676,461 Warner Bros.
5 The Royal Tenenbaums 6,408,153 8,514,122 -25 905 5 7,081 29,983,861 Buena Vista
6 Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius 5,523,825 9,015,854 -39 2,810 4 1,966 69,084,552 Paramount
7 Vanilla Sky 5,024,693 7,125,023 -29 2,770 5 1,814 88,459,249 Paramount
8 Kate & Leopold 4,744,908 6,125,410 -23 2,467 3 1,923 37,209,760 Miramax
9 Gosford Park 3,684,621 1,567,041 135 518 3 7,113 6,641,077 USA Films
10 Harry Potter 3,674,325 5,930,425 -38 2,170 9 1,693 305,311,880 Warner Bros.
11 Ali 3,333,187 7,006,528 -52 2,521 3 1,322 54,543,984 Sony
12 In the Bedroom 2,853,430 1,637,851 74 424 8 6,730 7,880,692 Miramax
13 Monsters, Inc. 2,195,669 3,877,647 -43 1,313 11 1,672 247,458,486 Buena Vista
14 How High 2,133,825 3,233,420 -34 1,237 4 1,725 27,308,095 Universal
15 Beauty & The Beast - SE 2,073,437 68 2 30,492 7,694,320 Buena Vista
16 The Majestic 1,477,680 3,187,261 -54 1,905 4 776 25,659,297 Warner Bros.
17 Behind Enemy Lines 1,448,957 1,978,884 -27 963 7 1,505 55,645,275 Fox
18 lmposter 1,533,927 3,022,523 -52 1,870 2 773 5,250,001 Miramax
19 The Shipping News 1,202,995 1,133,367 6 266 4 4,523 5,944,121 Miramax
20 Amelie 1,092,268 1,024,884 7 260 11 4,201 19,276,470 Miramax
Top 5 $ 60,621,725 $ 68,154,821 -11
Top 10 83,274,097 98,219,854 -15
Top 20 102,531,225 119,571,722 -14
Top 20 vs. 2001 $ 102,531,225 $ 135,590,390 -24

Last Updated : January 14, 2002 at 11:00PM EST