Weekend Box Office (January 18 - 21, 2002)

by Gitesh Pandya

THIS WEEKEND The acclaimed military action film Black Hawk Down opened fire on the North American box office and captured the number one spot with ease while Disney's family film Snow Dogs debuted with great strength at number two. Four-time leader The Lord of the Rings and Golden Globe champ A Beautiful Mind each dropped two spots but remained worthy contenders.

Sony Pictures had plenty of artillery in its arsenal this weekend as its Jerry Bruckheimer-Ridley Scott collaboration Black Hawk Down ruled the box office grossing $33.6M over the long Friday-to-Monday holiday weekend, according to final studio figures, after expanding nationwide from a successful three-week limited run. Charging into a mammoth 3,101 theaters (the widest January bow ever), the R-rated actioner averaged $10,844 per venue over four days.

That gave Black Hawk Down the biggest MLK weekend opener ever surpassing last year's Save the Last Dance which arrived with $27.5M in four days from 2,230 theaters for a slightly better $12,344 average. For the month of January, Black Hawk Down's debut ranks second all-time behind 1997's Star Wars - Special Edition which premiered with $35.9M over three days from 2,104 theaters for a stellar $17,066 average. Men, not surprisingly, made up the bulk of Hawk's audience with 55% of the crowd while 60% were under 30, according to studio exit polls.

With a reported budget of $90M, Black Hawk Down aims to parlay its commercial success into a prolonged box office run with possible Academy Award nominations. Adding in grosses from its limited run in New York and Los Angeles, the film has collected $35.5M to date. For Ridley Scott, the fact-based military rescue film set in Somalia could represent his third consecutive $100M hit after 2000's Gladiator and last spring's Hannibal.

Debuting with a loud bark in second place was Disney's family comedy Snow Dogs which grossed $23.7M over four days. Playing in 2,302 theaters, the Cuba Gooding Jr. picture about a Miami dentist who inherits a pack of Alaskan dogs averaged a meaty $10,299 per site. Buena Vista cornered the kids market with its $31M film now that Harry Potter, Monsters, Inc., and Jimmy Neutron have mostly played out.

Disney has often opened major family offerings on or around Presidents Day for some early-year sales. This year, the Mouse House used MLK weekend to get an early start with Snow Dogs and won big as its opening gross eclipsed those of recent February titles like last year's Recess: School's Out ($13.5M in four days), 2000's The Tigger Movie ($9.4M in three days), and 1999's My Favorite Martian ($11.2M in four days).

Overall, the box office had to grapple with many troubling factors including snowstorms in the east on Saturday, the Golden Globes telecast on Sunday, and football playoffs sprinkled throughout the weekend. However, the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. holiday did provide a boost to weekend business with many workers and students having the day off on Monday. But despite two strong openings, the weekend box office did not measure up to last year's holiday frame when the top ten grossed an astounding $135.3M over the Friday-to-Monday holiday period with nine films collecting over $10M each. This year's top ten collected a still-impressive $122.5M, down 9% from last year, and saw just five films reach double digit millions.

After a four-week reign atop the charts, New Line's epic adventure The Lord of the Rings dropped to third place with $15.3M. The fantasy picture held on well slipping just 20% when comparing three-day spans and lifted its magical cume to $248.2M. That allowed Rings to reach number 20 on the list of all-time domestic blockbusters just behind Monsters, Inc.'s $249.9M. A final tally of $290-300M seems likely unless the Peter Jackson film garners major Oscar nominations next month which would certainly send the cume north of the triple-century mark.

Slipping to fourth was Ron Howard's biographical drama A Beautiful Mind which grossed $14.7M. The Russell Crowe starrer upped its cume to $77.6M and continued its durable run becoming the second highest-grossing film of the actor's career after the Oscar-winning Gladiator. With its triumphant night at the Golden Globes on Sunday where it took home Best Picture - Drama, Actor, Supporting Actress, and Screenplay trophies, A Beautiful Mind looks to have a solid run in the weeks ahead as moviegoers line up for what is quickly becoming the front-runner in this year's Oscar race.

Paramount's teen comedy Orange County fell to fifth with $10.5M in its second weekend. Starring Colin Hanks and Jack Black, the $16M production has grossed a solid $28.5M in eleven days and should reach $45-55M by the end of its run.

The all-star caper pic Ocean's Eleven dropped to sixth place with $6.8M giving the Warner Bros. smash $171.6M in its vault. Buena Vista's ensemble comedy The Royal Tenenbaums placed seventh with $5.4M for a $37.3M cume.

Paramount's Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius popped back into the top ten in number eight position with $4.3M giving the animated adventure $74.1M thus far. Golden Globe winner Robert Altman's Gosford Park took ninth with $4.2M lifting the USA Films release's total to $12.2M. The Meg Ryan-Hugh Jackman romancer Kate & Leopold grossed $4.1M over the holiday weekend and has put the Miramax title at $42.8M to date.

A pair of high-profile pictures hovered just below the top ten. Tom Cruise's psychological thriller Vanilla Sky collected $3.6M pushing the Paramount film's cume to $93.6M.

Meanwhile, the literary juggernaut Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone dropped out of the top ten as well and brought in $3.5M in its tenth weekend pushing the film's muscular cume to an amazing $309.7M. This weekend, the Warner Bros. blockbuster surpassed the $309.1M lifetime domestic gross of 1983's Return of the Jedi to claim the number eight spot on the list of all-time domestic blockbusters. Of course, ticket prices were much lower when Jedi was released (and re-released in 1997) so it still has sold more tickets than Potter.

Going forward, Harry Potter should conclude its North American run with about $315-320M. Add in the wizard's towering $560M haul from international markets and the franchise-launching hit boasts an incredible $869M global cume.

In limited release, Universal's period action thriller Brotherhood of the Wolf expanded from 21 to 107 theaters and watched its holiday weekend gross climb to $1.5M. That gave the French-language picture a sturdy $14,336 average per venue and a $2.3M cume.

The top ten films grossed $122.5M over four days which was down 9% from last year's MLK holiday frame when Save the Last Dance opened in the top spot with $27.5M; but up 33% from 2000 when Next Friday debuted at number one with $16.9M.

For a review of Black Hawk Down visit The Chief Report.

Be sure to check back on Thursday for a complete summary, including projections, for next weekend when The Mothman Prophecies, A Walk to Remember, The Count of Monte Cristo, and Kung Pow! all open.

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

# Title Jan 18 - 21 Jan 11 - 13 % Chg. Theaters Weeks AVG Cumulative Dist.
1 Black Hawk Down $ 33,628,211 $ 748,459 3,101 4 $ 10,844 $ 35,471,639 Sony
2 Snow Dogs 23,708,174 2,302 1 10,299 23,708,174 Buena Vista
3 The Lord of the Rings 15,268,084 16,201,260 -5.8 3,266 5 4,675 248,212,887 New Line
4 A Beautiful Mind 14,707,360 15,220,705 -3.4 2,225 5 6,610 77,617,141 Universal
5 Orange County 10,529,180 15,053,226 -30.1 2,317 2 4,544 28,459,320 Paramount
6 Ocean's Eleven 6,755,340 7,738,381 -12.7 2,670 7 2,530 171,624,204 Warner Bros.
7 The Royal Tenenbaums 5,358,838 6,408,153 -16.4 997 6 5,375 37,288,258 Buena Vista
8 Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius 4,307,398 5,523,825 -22.0 2,506 5 1,719 74,137,382 Paramount
9 Gosford Park 4,151,226 3,684,621 12.7 658 4 6,309 12,151,491 USA Films
10 Kate & Leopold 4,126,573 4,744,908 -13.0 2,381 4 1,733 42,756,969 Miramax
11 Vanilla Sky 3,591,761 5,024,693 -28.5 2,355 6 1,525 93,648,572 Paramount
12 Harry Potter 3,452,767 3,674,325 -6.0 1,851 10 1,865 309,659,297 Warner Bros.
13 In the Bedroom 2,859,733 2,853,430 0.2 457 9 6,258 11,794,069 Miramax
14 Beauty & The Beast - SE 2,443,280 2,073,437 17.8 68 3 35,931 10,707,557 Buena Vista
15 Monsters, Inc. 2,012,370 2,195,669 -8.3 1,374 12 1,465 249,919,653 Buena Vista
16 Ali 1,715,402 3,333,187 -48.5 1,977 5 868 57,233,982 Sony
17 How High 1,552,960 2,133,825 -27.2 1,060 5 1,465 29,472,815 Universal
18 Brotherhood of the Wolf 1,533,927 475,181 222.8 107 2 14,336 2,260,509 Universal
19 The Shipping News 1,516,302 1,202,995 26.0 434 5 3,494 7,954,707 Miramax
20 Amelie 1,330,432 1,092,268 21.8 298 12 4,465 21,127,194 Miramax
Top 5 $ 97,841,009 $ 60,621,725 61.4
Top 10 122,540,384 83,274,097 47.2
Top 20 144,549,318 102,531,225 41.0
Top 20 vs. 2001 144,549,318 163,004,885 -11.3

Last Updated : January 22, 2002 at 10:00PM EST