Weekend Box Office (February 14 - 17, 2003)

THIS WEEKEND Despite a massive winter storm in the northeast portion of the country which wiped out plenty of moviegoing plans, the mighty comic book hero Daredevil powered its way to the top of the charts and led the North American box office to a potent Presidents' Day weekend. Kidpic The Jungle Book 2 staged a respectable opening while films with high-profile Oscar nominations enjoyed healthy gains.

Blizzard conditions along the eastern seaboard on Sunday and Monday significantly reduced the overall potential of the frame as distributors across the board were forced to revise their figures to account for the record snowfall.

Fox exploded on the scene with a huge number-one debut for the Ben Affleck-starrer Daredevil which grossed $45M over the long Friday-to-Monday holiday weekend, according to final studio figures. Playing ultrawide in 3,471 theaters, the PG-13 actioner averaged a stellar $12,974 per location over four days. The studio's revised three-day gross was $42M, or $1.5M less than originally estimated, while the four-day haul ended up $5M less than originally anticipated. It was the second largest February opening ever after Hannibal's $58M from 2001 and the second best career bow for Affleck after that same year's Pearl Harbor which collected $59.1M over the three-day part of its Memorial Day weekend launch. The Daredevil gross includes ticket sales from special Thursday night previews.

Directed by Mark Steven Johnson (Simon Birch), Daredevil tells the tale of a blind attorney with extraordinary senses who fights crime as a masked hero. Jennifer Garner, Michael Clarke Duncan, Jon Favreau, and Colin Farrell co-star. Reviews were not very positive and audiences were moderately pleased as the film scored a mediocre B grade from moviegoers polled by CinemaScore.com. Daredevil marks Affleck's third film in less than a year to open at number one following Changing Lanes and The Sum of All Fears.

With DC Comics ruling the box office in the 1980s and 90s with Superman and Batman flicks, Marvel Comics has become the dominant force today with X-Men, Spider-Man, and now Daredevil . Marvel's reign will only lengthen this year with the openings of Fox's X-Men 2 (which had its trailer attached to prints of Daredevil) in May and June's The Hulk from Universal.

Couples continued to flock to see the hit romantic comedy How To Lose A Guy in 10 Days which grossed $20.7M over four days in its second weekend. The Paramount release averaged a strong $7,085 from 2,923 locations and boosted its eleven-day cume to $49.4M. The $30M production stands an excellent chance of being the studio's first $100M grosser since last May's The Sum of All Fears which starred Ben Affleck who knocked 10 Days out of the top spot this weekend.

Oscar front-runner Chicago, armed with 13 nominations and 427 additional theaters, watched its holiday weekend gross climb to $14.5M and remained in third place. The Miramax hit averaged a healthy $6,395 per theater over four days and raised its total to $82.6M. As it expands into new markets, Chicago should remain a major force in the top ten throughout the spring.

With kids on a holiday break from school, Disney seized the opportunity and opened its animated film The Jungle Book 2 which claimed fourth place with $14.1M. The G-rated sequel played in 2,808 theaters and averaged a good $5,025 per site. The bow was close to that of the studio's kidpic from a year ago, Return to Never Land, which was released over the same frame with $15.6M over the four-day span. Moviegoers were pleased with The Jungle Book 2 as it earned an A- grade from CinemaScore.com.

The action-comedy Shanghai Knights dropped to $12.8M in its second frame. The Buena Vista sequel has grossed a solid $35.9M in eleven days and should find its way to $65-70M. The Jackie Chan-Owen Wilson film's predecessor, Shanghai Noon, grossed $56.9M in 2000.

Studio stablemate The Recruit slid down to $7.3M in its third assignment pushing its total to $39.4M. New Line's Final Destination 2 followed in seventh with $6.2M for a $36.1M cume.

Warner Bros. saw its kidpic Kangaroo Jack take in $5M shooting its sum to $59M. The romantic comedy Deliver Us From Eva fell to $4.4M in four days giving the Focus title $12.3M in eleven days.

Armed with nine Oscar nods, Paramount's The Hours widened its run by 454 locations and grossed $3.9M from 1,003 theaters. Averaging $3,847, the Meryl Streep-Nicole Kidman drama has upped its gross to $26.5M and hopes to keep coasting through the season attracting moviegoers beyond its adult female core.

Three films dropped out of the top ten over the weekend. After an eight-week run, The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers eased to $3.6M which pushed its mammoth cume to $325.4M. Last year, The Fellowship of the Ring jumped 30% in the same period after 13 Oscar nominations were bestowed upon it and grossed $4.7M over the three-day portion of the holiday session. Towers earned six Academy Award nods this year.

Jack Nicholson's Oscar nomination for About Schmidt did wonders to its box office as the New Line pic jumped to $3.5M for a $53M cume. Sony's spooky thriller Darkness Falls has grossed $29.9M to date and looks headed for the vicinity of $35-38M. The DreamWorks actioner Biker Boyz has revved up $19.3M thus far and should finish with $23-25M.

Universal expanded its cross-cultural comedy The Guru from 62 to 98 theaters and grossed $514,788 for a solid $5,252 average in its third weekend. The Jimi Mistry-Heather Graham title has grossed $1.7M in 17 days.

And finally, after an unbelievable 43-week run, indie megahit My Big Fat Greek Wedding finally departed the Top 20 and grossed $531,331 lifting its cume to an eye-popping $240.7M. The IFC Films release has become the top-grossing romantic comedy and the highest-grossing independent film of all-time. It even spent more time in the Top 20 than reigning megablockbuster Titanic which logged 35 straight weeks in the elite group. Just released on home video, Greek Wedding sits at number 28 on the list of all-time domestic blockbusters after 1996's Twister ($241.9M) and should finish its run with a mammoth $243-245M.

The top ten films grossed $134M over the four-day holiday frame which was up 15% from last year when John Q opened at number one with $23.6M; and up 13% from 2001 when Hannibal remained on top with $33.5M.

Compared to projections, Daredevil opened exactly on target with my $45M four-day forecast while The Jungle Book 2 was very close to my four-day prediction of $13M.

Take this week's NEW Reader Survey on the future of the Star Trek film franchise. In last week's survey, readers were asked how big they thought Daredevil's opening would be. Of 2,991 responses, 46% correctly said Over $40M, 40% guessed $30-40M, and 14% thought Under $30M.

Be sure to check back on Thursday for a complete summary, including projections, for next weekend when Old School, The Life of David Gale, Dark Blue, and Gods and Generals all open.

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

# Title Feb 14 - 17 Feb 7 - 9 % Chg. Theaters Weeks AVG Cumulative Distributor
1 Daredevil $ 45,033,454 3,471 1 $ 12,974 $ 45,033,454 Fox
2 How To Lose A Guy in 10 Days 20,708,870 23,774,850 -12.9 2,923 2 7,085 49,414,670 Paramount
3 Chicago 14,503,231 10,786,533 34.5 2,268 8 6,395 82,606,872 Miramax
4 The Jungle Book 2 14,109,797 2,808 1 5,025 14,109,797 Buena Vista
5 Shanghai Knights 12,796,818 19,603,630 -34.7 2,755 2 4,645 35,947,063 Buena Vista
6 The Recruit 7,278,557 9,226,419 -21.1 2,336 3 3,116 39,410,773 Buena Vista
7 Final Destination 2 6,242,586 8,389,650 -25.6 2,238 3 2,789 36,137,621 New Line
8 Kangaroo Jack 5,035,455 6,105,250 -17.5 2,535 5 1,986 58,954,899 Warner Bros.
9 Deliver Us From Eva 4,415,505 6,648,374 -33.6 1,139 2 3,877 12,281,586 Focus
10 The Hours 3,858,532 2,126,208 81.5 1,003 8 3,847 26,532,178 Paramount
11 The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers 3,597,077 3,516,739 2.3 1,422 9 2,530 325,446,438 New Line
12 About Schmidt 3,473,958 3,018,378 15.1 1,208 10 2,876 53,013,946 New Line
13 Catch Me If You Can 2,543,937 2,979,189 -14.6 1,135 8 2,241 159,759,570 DreamWorks
14 Biker Boyz 2,473,937 4,233,485 -41.6 1,330 3 1,860 19,306,932 DreamWorks
15 Darkness Falls 2,357,057 3,820,366 -38.3 1,539 4 1,532 29,877,615 Sony
16 Gangs of New York 1,984,766 862,373 130.2 1,503 9 1,321 72,440,262 Miramax
17 The Pianist 1,717,981 996,685 72.4 557 8 3,084 11,227,773 Focus
18 The Quiet American 1,431,507 538,321 165.9 157 13 9,118 2,922,946 Miramax
19 Adaptation 1,311,426 751,278 74.6 672 10 1,952 18,561,778 Sony
20 Just Married 972,179 2,041,470 -52.4 625 6 1,555 54,016,654 Fox
Top 5 $ 107,152,170 $ 71,781,082 49.3
Top 10 133,982,805 96,105,296 39.4
Top 20 155,846,630 112,686,253 38.3
Top 10 vs. 2002 155,846,630 154,552,181 0.8

Last Updated : February 18, 2003 at 6:00PM EST