Weekend Box Office (February 2 - 4, 2001)

THIS WEEKEND Jennifer Lopez and Matthew McConaughey spent their second straight frame at number one with the romantic comedy The Wedding Planner which grossed $10.6M, according to final studio figures, to lead the North American box office. Down only 22%, the Sony release has taken in $27.8M in just ten days while playing in 2,785 theaters - the most of any film currently in release. The Wedding Planner cost $28M to produce and might find its way to $50-60M domestically. Meanwhile, Lopez also rules the pop music charts as her new album "J. Lo" is the number one album in the country.

Opening close behind in second place was the slasher thriller Valentine, starring David Boreanaz, Denise Richards, and Katherine Heigl, with $10M. The horror film about a serial killer who hunts down women on Valentine's Day debuted in 2,310 theaters and averaged a decent $4,340 per location. The audience was 60% female and mostly in the 17-25 age group, according to Warner Bros. distribution president Dan Fellman. The R-rated Valentine carries a modest $10M pricetag and was directed by Jamie Blanks whose 1998 teen slasher Urban Legend opened with a similar $10.5M on its way to $38.1M.

The Tom Hanks blockbuster Cast Away took in $7.5M, off only 8%, and raised its sum to a towering $203M. The Fox/DreamWorks smash crossed the $200M mark on Saturday, its 44th day of release, and now sits at number 32 on the all-time domestic blockbuster list. Paramount's profitable teen romance Save the Last Dance dipped 27% to $7.2M and lifted its cume to $68.5M.

Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon continued to defy gravity by adding 294 theaters and watched its weekend gross soar 35% to $6.8M. With an amazing $53M in the bank, the Sony Classics title is expected to surpass the $57.6M take of Italy's Life is Beautiful next weekend to become the highest-grossing foreign language film in U.S. box office history.

Easing a scant 3%, the narcotics drama Traffic collected $6.3M and continues to benefit from the buzz generated by the film's numerous awards and nominations from the last two months. Now in its fifth weekend of wide release, the USA Films title has reached $64.8M while still playing in under 1,600 theaters.

The romantic comedy Head Over Heels, starring Monica Potter and Freddie Prinze Jr., struggled in its opening weekend grossing only $4.8M. Playing in 2,338 theaters, the Universal release averaged a dismal $2,055 per location and attracted mostly poor reviews, including a D+ grade from Entertainment Weekly. The PG-13 picture was budgeted at $14M and attracted a mostly young female audience, according to a studio spokesman. With Valentine, The Wedding Planner, and Save the Last Dance stealing away this demographic, there were few ticket buyers left for Head Over Heels.

Finding Forrester slipped just 9% to $4.2M and pushed its cume to $41.3M. The British crime comedy Snatch dipped 15% to ninth place with $4M and a $21.7M total.

Miramax's Oscar hopeful Chocolat entered the top ten for the first time and grossed $3.6M. Up 9% from last weekend, the Juliette Binoche-Johnny Depp starrer has grossed $22.4M to date.

Opening outside of the top ten was the sci-fi action picture Left Behind with an estimated $2.16M over the three-day span. Released by Cloud Ten Pictures, the Christian film about mysterious disappearances on Earth played in 867 theaters and averaged $2,490 per venue. The $17M film was originally released on video last fall to build a following among churches and community organizations who in turn helped secure exhibitors in their local areas.

Peter Lalonde, CEO of Cloud Ten and one of the film's producers, remarked "The film was sold out in the markets where we had good ground support, but didn't perform as well in some of the other areas." Lalonde also believes that Left Behind's Sunday gross will be very strong as a large number of fans have indicated that they plan to see the movie that day after going to church. In October 1999, The Omega Code (another Christian-based action film with grassroots marketing) opened with $2.4M from only 304 theaters and went on to gross $12.6M.

Sony held sneak previews for its new Jason Biggs-Amanda Peet comedy Saving Silverman on Saturday but generated only moderate results. The studio reported that mostly teenagers came to see the PG-13 film and that attendance was about half full. Saving Silverman opens on Friday in over 2,500 theaters as an alternative to MGM's much-anticipated Hannibal which launches in over 3,000 locations.

A pair of star-driven holiday blockbusters fell out of the top ten. Mel Gibson's romantic comedy What Women Want has grossed $172.8M thus far and should conclude its domestic run with $180-190M and already ranks as the actor's highest-grossing picture ever. Miss Congeniality, starring Sandra Bullock, has collected $97.7M to date and looks to finish with $105-115M making it her biggest hit in over four years.

Also dropping out of the top ten in only its second weekend was the cheerleader pic Sugar & Spice with $3.6M, off 39%. The New Line release has taken in only $10.6M in ten days and should end with $15-20M.

Compared to projections, Valentine opened very close to my $9M forecast. Head Over Heels debuted with half of my $10M prediction.

The top ten films grossed $65.1M which was down 4% from last year when Scream 3 opened at number one with a mammoth $34.7M; but up 12% from 1999 when Payback debuted in the top spot with $21.2M.

Take this week's NEW Reader Survey on the opening weekend of Hannibal. In last week's survey, readers were asked whether or not Cast Away would pass the $216M domestic gross of Saving Private Ryan. Of 2,299 responses, 88% said yes while 12% thought no.

Read the Weekly Rewind column which looks at the top February openings. For a review of Valentine visit The Chief Report.

Be sure to check back on Thursday for a complete summary, including projections, for next weekend when Hannibal and Saving Silverman both debut.

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

# Title Feb. 2 - 4 Jan. 26 - 28 % Chg. Theaters Weeks AVG Cumulative Dist.
1 The Wedding Planner $ 10,605,542 13,510,293 -21.5 2,785 2 $ 3,808 $ 27,763,988 Sony
2 Valentine 10,024,648 2,310 1 4,340 10,024,648 Warner Bros.
3 Cast Away 7,469,464 8,091,349 -7.7 2,648 7 2,821 203,010,647 Fox
4 Save the Last Dance 7,172,510 9,777,335 -26.6 2,570 4 2,791 68,506,814 Paramount
5 Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon 6,816,527 5,061,767 34.7 1,163 9 5,861 52,982,874 Sony Classics
6 Traffic 6,303,110 6,461,920 -2.5 1,580 6 3,989 64,784,672 USA Films
7 Head Over Heels 4,804,595 2,338 1 2,055 4,804,595 Universal
8 Finding Forrester 4,213,168 4,612,998 -8.7 1,983 7 2,125 41,277,446 Sony
9 Snatch 4,006,923 4,706,743 -14.9 1,240 3 3,231 21,748,080 Sony
10 Chocolat 3,649,243 3,356,291 8.7 1,173 8 3,111 22,409,992 Miramax
11 O Brother, Where Art Thou? 3,647,208 2,265,580 61.0 809 7 4,508 17,023,108 Buena Vista
12 Sugar and Spice 3,621,274 5,891,176 -38.5 2,150 2 1,684 10,626,846 New Line
13 What Women Want 3,254,151 4,372,023 -25.6 1,932 8 1,684 172,786,332 Paramount
14 Miss Congeniality 3,253,551 4,166,128 -21.9 2,036 7 1,598 97,690,461 Warner Bros.
15 The Pledge 3,056,254 3,678,312 -16.9 1,385 3 2,207 15,455,362 Warner Bros.
16 Thirteen Days 2,814,394 3,449,477 -18.4 1,461 6 1,926 28,397,755 New Line
17 Left Behind 2,158,780 867 1 2,490 2,158,780 Cloud Ten
18 Double Take 2,090,974 3,134,028 -33.3 1,044 4 2,003 26,148,258 Buena Vista
19 The Emperor's New Groove 1,985,657 2,629,288 -24.5 1,381 8 1,438 81,859,176 Buena Vista
20 The Gift 1,660,808 2,105,984 -21.1 777 3 2,137 9,013,599 Par. Classics
Top 5 $ 42,088,691 $ 43,732,073 -3.8
Top 10 65,065,730 66,651,732 -2.4
Top 20 92,608,781 91,357,530 1.4
Top 20 vs. 2000 92,608,781 81,221,001 14.0

Last Updated : February 5, 2001 at 8:30PM EST