Weekend Box Office (January 29 - 31, 1999)

THIS WEEKEND Miramax's romantic comedy She's All That was 'da bomb over Super Bowl weekend. The distributor saw a stunning debut from its box office prom queen which opened with a glamorous $16.1M, according to final figures. That was good enough to give it the second best January opener ever behind the $35.9M launch of the Star Wars Special Edition two years ago this weekend. Dancing into 2,222 locations, She's All That averaged a sparkling $7,230 per theater. Starring Freddie Prinze Jr. and Rachael Leigh Cook, the high school flick tells of a boy who wagers he can turn a nerdy girl into the prom queen but instead falls for her.

Miramax took a gamble of its own by opening the picture on Super Bowl weekend as an alternative to the male-driven frenzy of football. The distributor won big with its counterprogramming effort and took advantage of a weak marketplace with no new movies with wide appeal. In fact, She's All That's debut even beat those of recent high school films Varsity Blues and The Faculty which had Friday-to-Sunday openings of $15.2M and $11.6M respectively. With a relatively low $10M production cost, Miramax will enjoy a healthy profit from She's All That while rising stars Prinze Jr. and Cook could find many more scripts coming their way.

She's All That is yet another example of the booming teen movie business. High school and college-age moviegoers spend heavily and frequently at theaters and films with inexpensive stars that appeal to young patrons can become very profitable properties for studios and distributors. The success of She's All That and Varsity Blues bodes well for a handful of other pictures coming in the months ahead that hopes to lure the MTV generation. Look for teens and young adults to take more field trips to their local multiplexes to see films like Simply Irresistable starring Sarah Michelle Gellar, Jawbreaker starring Rebecca Gayheart and Rose McGowan, Cruel Intentions with Gellar and Ryan Phillippe, Go featuring Katie Holmes, and the fairy princess herself Drew Barrymore in Never Been Kissed - all hitting theaters this spring.

Patch Adams once again remained in second with $6M in its sixth frame. The medical comedy has chuckled its way to $116.5M thus far and continues to decline at a small weekly rate. After two weeks in first place, Varsity Blues lost yardage and fell 44% taking the third spot with $5.9M. After 17 days of release, the Paramount high school football pic has scored $39M. John Travolta's legal thriller A Civil Action commanded fourth with $4.8M pushing its cume to $47.3M.

Meanwhile, Shakespeare in Love was the only title in the top ten to see a boost in ticket sales over last week by collecting $4M over the Friday-to-Sunday period. The film's three Golden Globe wins last Sunday for Best Comedy Picture, Screenplay, and Actress definitely boosted interest in Shakespeare plus it made a great female-skewing alternative to the Super Bowl. A 16% increase in playdates didn't hurt either as the Gwenyth Paltrow hit climbed 11% from last weekend and pushed its total to date to an impressive $31.4M. Should Shakespeare garner some Oscar nods next week and continue to expand into more theaters, the Miramax film will have a long journey still ahead of it.

Stepmom eased 30% and placed sixth with $3.6M lifting its gross to $83.6M since its Christmas opening. The Thin Red Line retreated 43% to $3.3M giving the Terrence Malick film $27.3M so far. Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan grabbed eighth with You've Got Mail which grossed an estimated $3M pushing its total to $108.2M.

Mira Sorvino and Val Kilmer cozied up in ninth place with At First Sight. The MGM/UA romance took in $2.7M putting its cume at $18.4M. DreamWorks' The Prince of Egypt rounded out the top ten with an estimated $2.6M giving the animated hit $90.8M since its debut. Egypt is now the third non-Disney animated feature released in the fourth quarter of 1998 to gross over $90M at the domestic box office. With Paramount's The Rugrats Movie making $94.3M and DreamWorks' Antz grossing $90.5M, feature animation is alive and well in Hollywood.

Slipping from the top ten, Paramount's A Simple Plan declined 38% in its second weekend of national release collecting $2.1M. With $10.1M stashed away thus far, the Sam Raimi thriller looks to finish with $15-20M. Sharon Stone stumbled 61% with Gloria which should conclude its neglected domestic run with just $5M. Miramax's Playing By Heart fell 45% and is headed for a $5M final tally as well.

Compared to projections, She's All That far outpaced my pessimistic forecast of $4M. Holdovers Varsity Blues and Patch Adams both came close to my predictions of $6.5M and $6M respectively.

Take this week's NEW Reader Survey on Sharon Stone. In last week's survey, readers were asked which of five February films they wanted to see the most. Of 2,285 responses, 32% chose Rushmore, 28% picked Payback, 23% said 8MM, 13% voted for Message in a Bottle, and 4% selected Office Space.

Be sure to read the Weekly Rewind column which reports on the biggest openings in the month of February. This Wednesday's new column looks back at the weekend of February 4 - 6, 1994. For a review of She's All That visit Chief's Movie Review Page. Check the list of 1999 Golden Globe Winners which includes domestic grosses.

The top ten films grossed $52M which was down 34% from last year when Titanic scored yet another touchdown with $25.9M, and down 26% from 1997 when the rerelease of a little movie called Star Wars demolished records with a $35.9M launch.

Be sure to check back on Thursday for a complete summary, including projections, for next weekend when Mel Gibson returns with Payback.

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

Below are final studio figures for the weekend. Click on the title to jump to its official home page:

# Title Jan 29 - 31 Jan 22 - 24 % Chg. Theaters Weeks AVG Cumulative Dist.
1 She's All That $ 16,065,430 2,222 1 $ 7,230 $ 16,065,430 Miramax
2 Patch Adams 6,001,680 8,101,565 -25.9 2,880 6 2,084 116,507,970 Universal
3 Varsity Blues 5,914,240 10,574,508 -44.1 2,364 3 2,502 38,982,706 Paramount
4 A Civil Action 4,797,967 7,648,388 -37.3 2,069 6 2,319 47,253,243 BV
5 Shakespeare in Love 4,037,917 3,629,432 11.3 759 8 5,320 31,447,302 Miramax
6 Stepmom 3,608,549 5,145,549 -29.9 2,358 6 1,530 83,619,126 Sony
7 The Thin Red Line 3,300,316 5,794,840 -43.0 1,657 6 1,992 27,272,459 Fox
8 You've Got Mail 3,022,672 4,112,471 -26.5 2,096 7 1,442 108,174,879 Warner Bros.
9 At First Sight 2,650,442 4,787,150 -44.6 1,838 3 1,442 18,373,276 MGM/UA
10 The Prince of Egypt 2,625,153 3,926,434 -33.1 1,925 7 1,364 90,829,789 DreamWorks
11 A Simple Plan 2,107,277 3,422,072 -38.4 673 8 3,131 10,069,654 Paramount
12 A Bug's Life 1,922,070 2,720,616 -29.4 1,510 11 1,273 154,152,003 BV
13 Mighty Joe Young 1,689,748 2,575,283 -34.4 1,621 6 1,042 45,529,281 BV
14 Waking Ned Devine 1,508,487 1,862,298 -19.0 526 11 2,868 16,735,964 Fox Searchlight
15 Virus 1,425,970 3,012,430 -52.7 1,864 3 765 12,266,060 Universal
16 In Dreams 1,409,213 2,700,741 -47.8 1,615 3 873 10,337,697 DreamWorks
17 Life is Beautiful 926,243 1,055,993 -12.3 215 15 4,308 17,182,785 Miramax
18 Enemy of the State 900,422 1,205,443 -25.3 826 11 1,090 107,221,418 BV
19 Playing By Heart 838,624 1,529,922 -45.2 308 3 2,723 2,833,478 Miramax
20 Gloria 832,846 2,143,089 -61.1 1,527 2 545 3,615,434 Sony
Top 5 $ 36,817,234 $ 37,264,850 -1.2
Top 10 52,024,366 57,142,409 -9.0
Top 20 65,585,266 77,007,240 -14.8

    This column is updated three times each week : Thursday (upcoming weekend's summary), Sunday (post-weekend analysis with estimates), and Monday night (actuals). Source : EDI, Exhibitor Relations. Opinions expressed in this column are those solely of the author.

Last Updated : February 2, 1999 at 1:00AM ESTHome

Written by Gitesh Pandya