Weekend Box Office (January 19 - 21, 2001)

THIS WEEKEND Although the nation inaugurated a new president over the weekend, the top movies in the land remained the same. The top three films kept their positions as a small handful of new releases arrived with little fanfare. After weeks of sizzling sales, grosses finally came back down to normal January levels however the incredible breadth in the marketplace allowed aggregate box office receipts to rise sharply over year-ago totals.

For the second straight weekend, the teen drama Save the Last Dance took first place with $15.4M, according to final studio figures, dropping 35% from the Friday-to-Sunday portion of its record holiday opening. Starring Julia Stiles and Sean Patrick Thomas, the Paramount/MTV Films co-production added 309 more theaters and scored a solid $6,052 average from 2,539 sites. The PG-13 picture has now grossed an amazing $46.2M in just ten days. Last Dance was produced for only $13M and should be able to reach at least $80M in domestic receipts, according to a studio spokesperson.

Tom Hanks, who won the Golden Globe award on Sunday for best actor in a drama, held steady in second place with Cast Away which brought in another $11.2M in ticket sales. Off 35%, the Fox/DreamWorks blockbuster has lifted its cume to a towering $182M which places it at number 41 on the all-time domestic blockbuster list. "We'll have no problem crossing $200M with this one," said Bruce Snyder, distribution president for Fox.

Winning Golden Globe trophies for best supporting actor (Benicio Del Toro) and screenplay, the narcotics saga Traffic slipped just 26% to $8.5M in its third weekend of national release. Directed by Steven Soderbergh, the USA Films title averaged $5,415 and has brought its total to $46.7M.

Opening moderately well in fourth place was the British crime film Snatch which grossed $8M from 1,444 theaters. Guy Ritchie's comic tale of zany London crooks stars Brad Pitt and Benicio Del Toro and averaged a solid $5,544 per location. Released by Sony's Screen Gems unit, Snatch has already grossed $32M from the United Kingdom and Australia greatly offsetting its modest $10M budget.

Rounding out the top five was the Mel Gibson-Helen Hunt blockbuster What Women Want with $6.9M, off 33%, which lifted the Paramount release's total to $162.2M. Punching the keys in sixth place was Sean Connery in Finding Forrester which declined 33% to $6.7M in its second weekend of national release bringing its cume to $29.2M.

Sliding 30% to $6.3M was Sandra Bullock's hit comedy Miss Congeniality which has brought in $87.3M to date. The martial arts epic Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon added 144 runs allowing it to boast the best hold in the top ten with a dip of just 20% to $6.1M. The Sony Classics title, which won a pair of Golden Globes for best director and foreign language picture, averaged a strong $7,264 from 837 theaters and pushed its sum to $37.3M.

The Cuban Missle Crisis thriller Thirteen Days followed with $6M giving New Line's political saga $19.7M thus far. Buena Vista's buddy comedy Double Take tumbled 42% to $5.8M bringing its ten-day sum to $18.9M.

Jack Nicholson returned to theaters for the first time in three years with the crime drama The Pledge which opened with a disappointing $5.8M. Directed by Sean Penn, the Warner Bros. release finds the three-time Oscar winner as a cop tracking down a young girl's killer. Reviews were mixed and audiences crucified the film giving it a D- grade, according to CinemaScore. Playing in 1,275 theaters, The Pledge averaged $4,522 per venue.

Falling out of the top ten was Disney's The Emperor's New Groove which collected $3.9M in its sixth weekend of release. With a cume of $76M, the animated comedy should go on to gross $85-90M.

Director Sam Raimi's latest thriller The Gift opened with $3.5M from 805 theaters for a mediocre $4,301 average. The suspense picture stars Cate Blanchett as a psychic trying to solve a murder and also features Keanu Reeves, Katie Holmes, and Hilary Swank. The Gift represented the first wide release ever for specialty distributor Paramount Classics and generated a nearly identical opening to Raimi's last thriller, A Simple Plan, which expanded nationwide this weekend two years ago with $3.42M from 660 playdates.

Miramax went wide with Lasse Hallstrom's acclaimed film Chocolat which expanded into 658 theaters collecting $3.1M. The Juliette Binoche-Johnny Depp starrer averaged $4,702 and upped its cume to $12.8M. Chocolat was honored with four Golden Globe nominations but left empty-handed on Sunday night.

Compared to projections, Snatch opened precisely at my $8M forecast. The Pledge and The Gift both debuted a little lower than my predictions of $7M and $5M, respectively. Chocolat was on target with my $3M projection.

The top ten films grossed $80.8M which was up a hefty 52% from last year when Next Friday remained in the top spot with $8M; and up 41% from 1999 when Varsity Blues held on at number one with $10.6M.

Take this week's NEW Reader Survey on the best actor in recent years to play the U.S. president. In last week's survey, readers were asked whether Traffic or Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon had a better chance of winning the Academy Award for best picture. Of 3,744 responses, 58% said Crouching Tiger while 42% voted for Traffic.

Read the Studio Spotlight 2000 story which reviews last year's box office activities with Top 50 lists and individual studio breakdowns.

Read the Weekly Rewind column which goes back eight years to January 1993. For a review of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon visit The Chief Report.

Be sure to check back on Thursday for a complete summary, including projections, for Superbowl weekend when The Wedding Planner and Sugar and Spice both open.

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

# Title Jan. 19 - 21 Jan. 12 - 14 % Chg. Theaters Weeks AVG Cumulative Dist.
1 Save the Last Dance $ 15,366,047 $ 23,444,930 -34.5 2,539 2 $ 6,052 $ 46,238,231 Paramount
2 Cast Away 11,151,419 17,245,979 -35.3 3,061 5 3,643 181,970,406 Fox
3 Traffic 8,506,626 11,438,980 -25.6 1,571 4 5,415 46,692,094 USA Films
4 Snatch 8,005,163 1,444 1 5,544 8,065,214 Sony
5 What Women Want 6,853,415 10,275,888 -33.3 3,025 6 2,266 162,242,652 Paramount
6 Finding Forrester 6,714,733 9,943,775 -32.5 2,002 5 3,354 29,201,113 Sony
7 Miss Congeniality 6,276,796 8,986,002 -30.1 2,603 5 2,411 87,322,025 Warner Bros.
8 Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon 6,080,357 7,625,087 -20.3 837 7 7,264 37,287,527 Sony Classics
9 Thirteen Days 6,037,680 9,768,899 -38.2 2,034 4 2,968 19,672,295 New Line
10 Double Take 5,787,819 10,009,828 -42.2 1,631 2 3,549 18,858,652 Buena Vista
11 The Pledge 5,765,347 1,275 1 4,522 5,765,347 Warner Bros.
12 The Emperor's New Groove 3,894,810 5,728,509 -32.0 2,016 6 1,932 76,048,955 Buena Vista
13 The Gift 3,461,903 805 1 4,301 3,512,376 Par. Classics
14 The Family Man 3,313,035 5,711,940 -42.0 2,277 5 1,455 69,530,805 Universal
15 Chocolat 3,093,590 1,586,580 95.0 658 6 4,702 12,814,359 Miramax
16 Antitrust 2,341,209 4,783,698 -51.1 2,433 2 962 8,685,747 MGM/UA
17 O Brother, Where Art Thou? 1,633,678 2,613,603 -37.5 419 5 3,899 9,544,001 Buena Vista
18 Vertical Limit 1,256,307 2,587,426 -51.4 1,323 7 950 65,564,402 Sony
19 State and Main 734,020 1,513,625 -51.5 462 5 1,589 5,157,997 Fine Line
20 Dude, Where's My Car? 616,923 1,608,858 -61.7 825 6 748 44,992,961 Fox
Top 5 $ 49,882,670 $ 72,415,605 -31.1
Top 10 80,780,055 114,467,877 -29.4
Top 20 106,890,877 135,590,390 -21.2
Top 20 vs. 2000 106,890,877 73,427,353 45.6

Last Updated : January 22 at 8:30PM EST