Weekend Box Office (January 26 - 28, 2001)

THIS WEEKEND Jennifer Lopez topped the box office with her new romantic comedy The Wedding Planner pushing two-week champ Save the Last Dance into the bridesmaid position. The weekend's other new release, the cheerleader film Sugar & Spice, opened to weak results while last Sunday's Golden Globe winners experienced the smallest declines in the top ten. With the Super Bowl taking millions of men out of the marketplace, female-skewing pictures led the way.

Sony enjoyed a number one opening for The Wedding Planner, starring Lopez and Matthew McConaughey, taking in $13.5M over the Friday-to-Sunday period, according to final studio figures. The studio launched the PG-13 film very wide in 2,785 theaters (the most ever for a January opener) and averaged a good, but not stellar, $4,851 per location. The story finds the popular actress as a workaholic wedding planner who falls for the fiance of her client. Sony supported the movie with an aggressive publicity campaign with the two leads making countless media appearances over the past couple of weeks. Singer-actress-dancer Lopez also released her second studio album "J. Lo" last week and aims to become the first entertainer in recent memory to hit number one on both the box office and album sales charts simultaneously.

"This shows that Jennifer Lopez can really open a picture and bring out her loyal set of fans," remarked Jeff Blake, marketing and distribution head for Sony Pictures. The audience was split evenly between those over and under age 25 and 55% were female, according to Blake. The Wedding Planner, which earned poor reviews from critics, enjoyed a moderate 24% boost on Saturday. Budgeted at $28M, the romantic comedy aims to be the top date film leading up to Valentine's Day. Lopez last starred in the sci-fi thriller The Cell which also opened at number one with $17.5M last August.

After two weeks on top, the teen romance Save the Last Dance dropped 36% to $9.8M finishing the weekend in second place. After 17 days, the Paramount release has brought in an impressive $59.3M. The soundtrack to Save the Last Dance has also been a hot seller and currently sits at number three on the Billboard album sales charts.

Down a notch from last weekend, Cast Away claimed third place with $8.1M sliding just 27%. The Tom Hanks smash earned the superstar a Golden Globe award for best actor in a drama last Sunday and has grossed a remarkable $193.2M to date allowing the Robert Zemeckis-directed film to climb to number 34 on the all-time domestic blockbuster list.

Also parlaying its Golden Globe wins into a strong hold was the narcotics saga Traffic which took in $6.5M, down only 24%. Directed by Steven Soderbergh, the ensemble drama won trophies for best supporting actor (Benicio Del Toro) and screenplay. With $56.2M collected thus far, Traffic is now the highest-grossing film in company history for USA Films as well as its former components Gramercy Pictures and October Films.

Following a week of layoffs and restructuring, New Line Cinema got some more bad news as its cheerleader pic Sugar & Spice debuted with only $5.9M. The dark comedy opened in 2,150 theaters and averaged a not-so-cheerful $2,740. Sugar & Spice appealed primarily to young females who were more enraptured by The Wedding Planner and Save The Last Dance this weekend.

After winning a pair of Golden Globes for best foreign language film and best director, Ang Lee's Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon enjoyed the smallest decline in the top ten slipping just 17% to $5.1M. Starring Chow Yun-Fat, Michelle Yeoh, and Zhang Ziyi, the Sony Classics release has watched its domestic total soar to $44.4M. The distributor plans to add more theaters ahead of the announcement of Academy Award nominations on February 13.

Dropping 41% in its second weekend was Snatch, starring Brad Pitt and Benicio Del Toro, which collected $4.7M. After ten days, the Sony release has grossed $15.7M. The studio's Finding Forrester grossed $4.6M, off only 31%, giving the Sean Connery drama $35.7M to date.

Slipping to ninth was Paramount's What Women Want which grossed $4.4M pushing its blockbuster cume up to $168.4M. Rounding out the top ten was Sandra Bullock's Miss Congeniality with $4.2M and $93.3M thus far.

A pair of films fell out of the top ten. New Line's political thriller Thirteen Days declined 42% to $3.4M lifting its total to $24.7M. Carrying a $80M pricetag, the Kevin Costner drama should conclude its domestic run with a disappointing $35M. The buddy comedy Double Take took its cume to $23.2M after 17 days. Produced for $24M, the Buena Vista release looks to finish with around $30M.

Lions Gate expanded its comedic thriller Shadow of the Vampire from 7 to 513 theaters and grossed $1.9M. The John Malkovich-Willem Dafoe starrer averaged a decent $3,682 per venue and has taken in $2.5M overall. Vampire will next widen on February 16 after the Oscar nominations are announced.

Compared to projections, The Wedding Planner and Sugar & Spice both opened a few notches below my respective predictions of $18M and $10M. Shadow of the Vampire was near my $3M projection. Save the Last Dance and Cast Away were both close to my forecasts of $9M and $8M.

The top ten films grossed $66.7M which was up 59% from last year when Eye of the Beholder opened in the top spot with only $6M; and up 28% from 1999 when She's All That debuted at number one with $16.1M.

Take this week's NEW Reader Survey on the Tom Hanks blockbuster Cast Away. In last week's survey, readers were asked which actor made the best U.S. President. Of 2,936 responses, 44% picked Harrison Ford (Air Force One), 23% chose Michael Douglas (The American President), 16% selected Morgan Freeman (Deep Impact), 13% picked Bill Pullman (Independence Day), and 4% said Jack Nicholson (Mars Attacks!).

Read the Weekly Rewind column which reports on the box office eight years ago when former President Clinton first took office. For a review of The Wedding Planner visit The Chief Report.

Be sure to check back on Thursday for a complete summary, including projections, for next weekend when Valentine and Head Over Heels both open.

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

# Title Jan. 26 - 28 Jan. 19 - 21 % Chg. Theaters Weeks AVG Cumulative Dist.
1 The Wedding Planner $ 13,510,293 2,785 1 $ 4,851 $ 13,510,293 Sony
2 Save the Last Dance 9,777,335 15,366,047 -36.4 2,561 3 3,818 59,323,722 Paramount
3 Cast Away 8,091,349 11,151,419 -27.4 2,891 6 2,799 193,243,499 Fox
4 Traffic 6,461,920 8,506,626 -24.0 1,581 5 4,087 56,188,074 USA Films
5 Sugar and Spice 5,891,176 2,150 1 2,740 5,891,176 New Line
6 Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon 5,061,767 6,080,357 -16.8 869 8 5,825 44,427,118 Sony Classics
7 Snatch 4,706,743 8,005,163 -41.2 1,444 2 3,260 15,713,514 Sony
8 Finding Forrester 4,612,998 6,714,733 -31.3 2,002 6 2,304 35,677,842 Sony
9 What Women Want 4,372,023 6,853,415 -36.2 2,611 7 1,674 168,374,587 Paramount
10 Miss Congeniality 4,166,128 6,276,796 -33.6 2,409 6 1,729 93,286,275 Warner Bros.
11 The Pledge 3,678,312 5,765,347 -36.2 1,410 2 2,609 11,115,357 Warner Bros.
12 Thirteen Days 3,449,477 6,037,680 -42.9 1,936 5 1,782 24,718,382 New Line
13 Chocolat 3,356,291 3,093,590 8.5 1,203 7 2,790 17,425,255 Miramax
14 Double Take 3,134,028 5,787,819 -45.9 1,429 3 2,193 23,236,113 Buena Vista
15 The Emperor's New Groove 2,629,288 3,894,810 -32.5 1,674 7 1,571 79,364,925 Buena Vista
16 O Brother, Where Art Thou? 2,265,580 1,633,678 38.7 547 6 4,142 12,541,024 Buena Vista
17 The Gift 2,105,984 3,461,903 -39.2 806 2 2,613 6,621,269 Par. Classics
18 Shadow of the Vampire 1,888,827 66,411 513 5 3,682 2,462,451 Lions Gate
19 The Family Man 1,549,385 3,313,035 -53.2 1,581 6 980 71,911,405 Universal
20 Antitrust 648,626 2,341,209 -72.3 1,427 3 455 10,010,209 MGM/UA
Top 5 $ 43,732,073 $ 49,882,670 -12.3
Top 10 66,651,732 80,780,055 -17.5
Top 20 91,357,530 106,890,877 -14.5
Top 20 vs. 2000 91,357,530 56,917,241 60.5

Last Updated : January 29 at 10:45PM EST