Weekend Box Office (February 7 - 9, 2003)

THIS WEEKEND Estrogen beat out testosterone at the North American box office as Paramount's romantic comedy How To Lose A Guy in 10 Days debuted at number one while Buena Vista's action-comedy Shanghai Knights opened in the runner-up spot with both delivering impressive bows. Meanwhile, the battle-of-the-sexes comedy Deliver Us From Eva opened in the top ten while Oscar hopeful Chicago expanded nationwide and reached its highest chart position to date by landing in third. Overall, the marketplace was thriving as ticket sales were higher than last weekend and a year ago.

Women drove How To Lose A Guy in 10 Days to the top spot this weekend as the Kate Hudson-Matthew McConaughey comedy opened with $23.8M, according to final figures. Playing very wide in 2,923 locations, the PG-13 film averaged a muscular $8,134 per theater. Though reviews were not very favorable, moviegoers were pleased as 10 Days earned a A- grade from patrons polled by CinemaScore.com. Two-thirds of the audience was female and the bow exceeded the openings of other recent date films like Just Married ($17.5M), Two Weeks Notice ($14.3M), and Maid in Manhattan ($18.7M). The performance came as good news to struggling Paramount which has enjoyed only one other number-one debut in the last eight months - October's Jackass: The Movie. The studio credits the strong opening to the extensive publicity efforts of the stars and to the recent sneak previews.

Premiering in second place with $19.6M was the action sequel Shanghai Knights which reunited Jacke Chan and Owen Wilson. The Buena Vista release played in 2,753 theaters and averaged $7,121 per venue. The well-reviewed picture drew an audience that was 55% male and 53% 25 and under. The sequel to 2000's Shanghai Noon earned a B+ grade by those polled by CinemaScore.com.

Miramax tripled the theater count of its Oscar front-runner Chicago expanding it into a full national release ahead of Tuesday's announcements of Academy Award nominations and jumped two spots to third place with $10.8M. Up 53% from last weekend, the Renee Zellweger-Richard Gere musical averaged a solid, but not dazzling, $5,859 per theater and put its total at $63.8M.

Al Pacino's The Recruit, last weekend's top dog, fell a moderate 43% in its second frame to $9.2M. The Buena Vista release has banked $29.8M in ten days and should conclude with $55-60M.

Fright sequel Final Destination 2, another sophomore pic, dropped 48% to $8.4M placing fifth for the weekend. New Line's franchise pic has grossed $27.9M in ten days and is headed for a $50-55M final. The first Final Destination grossed $53.3M in the spring of 2000.

The romantic comedy Deliver Us From Eva bowed in sixth place with $6.6M from 1,139 playdates for a solid $5,837 average. The Focus Features release stars L.L. Cool J as a ladies man hired to seduce a controlling woman played by Gabrielle Union. Reviews were mixed but audiences were pleased as the R-rated film earned a A- grade from CinemaScore.com.

Kangaroo Jack placed seventh with $6.1M, off 33%, giving the Warner Bros. kidpic $53M after its fourth frame. The DreamWorks actioner Biker Boyz suffered the worst drop in the top ten crashing 58% and grossing $4.2M in its second lap. After ten days, the motorcycle film has collected $16M and looks headed for a final tally of $25-28M. The Sony thriller Darkness Falls fell 46% to ninth with $3.8M pushing its cume to $26.8M.

In its eighth weekend in the top ten, The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers rounded out the list with $3.5M easing 31%. The New Line megablockbuster has upped its mammoth cume to $320.9M and ranks eighth on the list of all-time domestic blockbusters behind 1994's Forrest Gump which grossed $329.7M.

Next weekend should also be a potent one at the box office as both Valentine's Day and Presidents Day fall on the same frame. Fox leads the way with the Ben Affleck-starring comic book adventure Daredevil which the studio will launch on Thursday night with 9pm previews in 2,500 theaters. The film fully opens on Friday in over 3,400 locations. The weekend's only other new wide release will be Disney's animated sequel The Jungle Book 2. A small handful of films like The Hours will expand next weekend depending on how they fare with Oscar nominations on Tuesday morning.

Three films dropped out of the top ten. A weekend gross of $3M was reported by both New Line for About Schmidt and DreamWorks for Catch Me If You Can. The Jack Nicholson pic slipped 33% and raised its total to $48.5M. The $65M Hanks-DiCaprio venture dropped 41% and boosted its sum to $156.4M. A final gross of $165-170M seems likely. Fox's Just Married got hurt by the powerful opening of rival date flick How To Lose A Guy in 10 Days and plunged 58% to $2M and a $52.6M cume. Budgeted at $18M, the PG-13 film should finish with $55-57M.

The top ten films grossed $96.1M which was up 22% from last year when Collateral Damage opened at number one with $15.1M; but down 7% from 2001 when Hannibal debuted on top with a record $58M.

Take this week's NEW Reader Survey on the opening of Daredevil. In last week's survey, readers were asked if they thought Gangs of New York would receive an Oscar nomination for Best Picture. Of 1,576 responses, 74% said Yes while 26% thought No.

Compared to projections, How to Lose A Guy in 10 Days opened much better than my $14M forecast while Shanghai Knights was on target with my $19M prediction. Deliver Us From Eva was also very close to my $8M projection.

Be sure to check back on Thursday for a complete summary, including projections, for next weekend when both Daredevil and The Jungle Book 2 open.

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

# Title Feb 7 - 9 Jan 31 - Feb 2 % Chg. Theaters Weeks AVG Cumulative Distributor
1 How To Lose A Guy in 10 Days $ 23,774,850 2,923 1 $ 8,134 $ 23,774,850 Paramount
2 Shanghai Knights 19,603,630 2,753 1 7,121 19,603,630 Buena Vista
3 Chicago 10,786,533 7,052,983 52.9 1,841 7 5,859 63,803,153 Miramax
4 The Recruit 9,226,419 16,302,063 -43.4 2,376 2 3,883 29,822,115 Buena Vista
5 Final Destination 2 8,389,650 16,017,141 -47.6 2,834 2 2,960 27,876,495 New Line
6 Deliver Us From Eva 6,648,374 1,139 1 5,837 6,648,374 Focus
7 Kangaroo Jack 6,105,250 9,048,362 -32.5 2,848 4 2,144 53,035,263 Warner Bros.
8 Biker Boyz 4,233,485 10,106,992 -58.1 1,769 2 2,393 16,017,600 DreamWorks
9 Darkness Falls 3,820,366 7,018,472 -45.6 2,456 3 1,556 26,806,695 Sony
10 The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers 3,516,739 5,088,421 -30.9 1,680 8 2,093 320,857,049 New Line
11 About Schmidt 3,018,378 4,515,337 -33.2 1,240 9 2,434 48,484,539 New Line
12 Catch Me If You Can 2,979,189 5,075,589 -41.3 1,744 7 1,708 156,427,306 DreamWorks
13 The Hours 2,126,208 3,102,202 -31.5 549 7 3,873 21,727,828 Paramount
14 Just Married 2,041,470 4,811,257 -57.6 1,796 5 1,137 52,626,050 Fox
15 National Security 1,458,238 4,313,606 -66.2 1,569 4 929 34,632,274 Sony
16 Confessions of a Dangerous Mind 1,343,778 4,300,162 -68.8 1,376 6 977 14,443,590 Miramax
17 My Big Fat Greek Wedding 1,003,360 1,538,527 -34.8 971 43 1,033 239,952,321 IFC Films
18 The Pianist 996,685 1,148,706 -13.2 328 7 3,039 9,078,307 Focus
19 Gangs of New York 862,373 2,210,773 -61.0 891 8 968 70,047,275 Miramax
20 Adaptation 751,278 1,136,767 -33.9 415 9 1,810 16,967,944 Sony
Top 5 $ 71,781,082 $ 58,527,541 22.6
Top 10 96,105,296 85,036,617 13.0
Top 20 112,686,253 106,743,917 5.6
Top 10 vs. 2002 112,686,253 95,612,557 17.9

Last Updated : February 11, 2003 at 12:30AM EST