Weekend Box Office (January 25 - 27, 2002)

by Gitesh Pandya

THIS WEEKEND A brigade of five new combatants couldn't keep moviegoers away from Ridley Scott's intense war film Black Hawk Down which remained the most popular film in North America. Most of the new releases generated encouraging results and provided breadth to the marketplace as six films each topped $10M in weekend sales. Overall, the box office was booming as the top ten films brought in over $100M - a rare feat for a non-holiday weekend in the first quarter - with half of that amount being contributed by the freshman quintet.

Commanding the number one spot for the second weekend in a row, Sony's Black Hawk Down grossed $17M, according to final figures, falling a reasonable 41% from the Friday-to-Sunday portion of last weekend's holiday frame. The R-rated military actioner has now taken in a robust $58.9M and may find its way to $115-125M domestically. The $90M Jerry Bruckheimer production averaged a solid $5,486 per theater from 3,101 locations. MGM and Paramount are hoping that the patriotic mood of American moviegoers will last through the coming months when they launch their star-driven military films Hart's War (February 15) with Bruce Willis and We Were Soldiers (March 1) with Mel Gibson.

Families continued to mush to theaters to see Disney's Snow Dogs which remained in second place with $13.1M in its sophomore frame. The PG-rated comedy dropped only 27% from last weekend and pushed its ten-day total to a terrific $38.8M. Produced for a reported $31M, Snow Dogs looks to reach $80-90M at the turnstiles.

Teen females rallied behind the high school romance A Walk to Remember and powered it to the largest opening among the weekend's five new films with a Friday-to-Sunday gross of $12.2M. Playing in 2,411 theaters, the Mandy Moore-Shane West drama averaged an adoring $5,051 per classroom. Audiences reacted positively as moviegoers polled by CinemaScore gave the $10M film an A grade with the target demo of young females honoring it with an A+. With so many adult-skewing dramas playing in theaters, the squeaky clean PG-rated romance played to a demographic group looking for something it could call its own.

Ron Howard's critical favorite A Beautiful Mind was practically unchanged from a week ago thanks to its four Golden Globe wins last Sunday with a weekend take of $11.5M. The Universal/DreamWorks co-production eased a scant 2% and raised its total gross to a brainy $92.9M.

Opening with $11.4M was the period adventure film The Count of Monte Cristo starring James Caviezel and Guy Pearce. Buena Vista bowed the PG-13 film in 2,007 locations and averaged a solid $5,668 per venue. The latest telling of the classic Alexandre Dumas tale earned a glowing A grade from CinemaScore and saw a 33% sales spike on Saturday over Friday indicating an encouraging road ahead. Males made up 53% of the audience while nearly two-thirds were over age 25. Monte Cristo reportedly carried a $31M production budget.

Richard Gere debuted in sixth place with the supernatural thriller The Mothman Prophecies with $11.2M. The Sony release attacked 2,331 theaters and averaged a good $4,809. The PG-13 drama scored just a C+ grade with moviegoers polled by CinemaScore. Domestic rights for Mothman were acquired by Sony's Screen Gems unit for $15M.

After four weeks in platform release, New Line's Sean Penn drama I Am Sam expanded nationwide and grossed $8.3M giving it a seventh-place debut. Playing in 1,268 theaters, the PG-13 film about a mentally-challenged man fighting for custody of his daughter averaged a healthy $6,558 per venue - the best in the top ten. With its strong average and promising A grade from CinemaScore audiences, I Am Sam should perform well in the weeks to come.

With no Golden Globes in hand, former box office chart-topper The Lord of the Rings fell 37% to $7.8M and upped its mammoth cume to $258.4M. The first installment of Peter Jackson's epic trilogy now sits at number 17 on the list of all-time domestic blockbusters between 1975's Jaws ($260M) and 1989's Batman ($251.2M). Of course, ticket prices were much lower in those decades.

Opening without flavor in ninth place was Kung Pow!: Enter the Fist which took in $7M from 2,478 theaters for a dismal $2,832 average. The martial arts spoof comedy from director/star Steve Oedekerk combines footage from the 1977 kung fu flick Tiger and Crane Fist with new comedic material shot for Kung Pow! to make a silly experiment. Critics, not surprisingly, were not impressed with the $9M film nor were moviegoers as those polled by CinemaScore gave the PG-13 film a weak C- grade.

Rounding out the top ten was the Paramount/MTV teen comedy Orange County with $4.4M in its third semester. Off a hefty 51%, the PG-13 flick has grossed $34M in 17 days.

With so many new faces arriving this weekend, a number of films dropped out of the top ten. In its eighth weekend, Steven Soderbergh's star-studded heist picture Ocean's Eleven made off with $3.2M pushing its blockbuster total to $176M. Down 44%, the Warner Bros. release should find its way to around $185-190M. Buena Vista's The Royal Tenenbaums, starring Golden Globe winner Gene Hackman, dipped 31% to $3.1M for a $41.5M cume. The ensemble comedy looks to eventually reach $50-60M.

USA Films' Gosford Park and Miramax's Kate & Leopold reached $16M and $45M respectively. Park continues to display strong holds and could keep its momentum going after Oscar nominations are announced. Kate is fading fast and should end up with about $50M.

Paramount's pair of December titles, the Tom Cruise vehicle Vanilla Sky and the animated comedy Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius, reached $96.1M and $76.2M respectively and should conclude with totals of around $100M and $80M.

The top ten films grossed a stellar $103.9M which was up 56% from last year when The Wedding Planner opened in the top spot over Super Bowl weekend with $13.5M; and up an eye-popping 147% from 2000 when Eye of the Beholder debuted at number one with a mere $6M.

Compared to projections, A Walk to Remember and The Count of Monte Cristo both debuted a bit stronger than my respective forecasts of $11M and $9M. The Mothman Prophecies and Kung Pow! were both on target with my predictions of $12M and $7M, respectively. I Am Sam opened better than my $6M projection.

Take this week's NEW Reader Survey on which February film you want to see the most. 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 Birthday Girl and Slackers both open.

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

# Title Jan 25 - 27 Jan 18 - 21 % Chg. Theaters Weeks AVG Cumulative Dist.
1 Black Hawk Down $ 17,012,268 $ 28,611,736 -40.5 3,101 5 $ 5,486 $ 58,893,074 Sony
2 Snow Dogs 13,079,373 17,814,259 -26.6 2,440 2 5,360 38,811,967 Buena Vista
3 A Walk to Remember 12,177,488 2,411 1 5,051 12,177,488 Warner Bros.
4 A Beautiful Mind 11,531,735 11,748,110 -1.8 2,237 6 5,155 92,887,746 Universal
5 The Count of Monte Cristo 11,376,150 2,007 1 5,668 11,376,150 Buena Vista
6 The Mothman Prophecies 11,208,851 2,331 1 4,809 11,208,851 Sony
7 I Am Sam 8,315,581 1,268 5 6,558 8,506,955 New Line
8 The Lord of the Rings 7,803,075 12,473,748 -37.4 2,703 6 2,887 258,449,272 New Line
9 Kung Pow! Enter the Fist 7,017,474 2,478 1 2,832 7,017,474 Fox
10 Orange County 4,418,401 8,923,456 -50.5 2,317 3 1,907 34,046,523 Paramount
11 Ocean's Eleven 3,176,373 5,713,569 -44.4 2,010 8 1,580 175,974,750 Warner Bros.
12 The Royal Tenenbaums 3,084,804 4,478,152 -31.1 999 7 3,088 41,495,735 Buena Vista
13 Gosford Park 2,782,555 3,395,759 -18.1 756 5 3,681 15,980,889 USA Films
14 In the Bedroom 1,941,677 2,279,019 -14.8 465 10 4,176 14,449,092 Miramax
15 Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius 1,777,704 2,876,048 -38.2 1,802 6 987 76,221,724 Paramount
16 Vanilla Sky 1,654,127 3,115,310 -46.9 1,640 7 1,009 96,076,019 Paramount
17 Brotherhood of the Wolf 1,608,920 1,243,071 29.4 292 3 5,510 6,672,482 Universal
18 Beauty & The Beast - SE 1,470,492 1,847,304 -20.4 68 4 21,625 12,543,294 Buena Vista
19 Kate & Leopold 1,448,767 3,444,455 -57.9 1,540 5 941 45,023,594 Miramax
20 Harry Potter 1,402,381 2,586,521 -45.8 1,202 11 1,167 311,573,984 Warner Bros.
Top 5 $ 65,177,014 $ 79,571,309 -18.1
Top 10 103,940,396 99,479,292 4.5
Top 20 124,288,196 117,072,150 6.2

Last Updated : January 29, 2002 at 12:15AM EST