Weekend Box Office (February 16 - 19, 2001)

THIS WEEKEND The unstoppable blockbuster thriller Hannibal generated the largest Presidents' Day weekend gross in history and led the overall North American box office to a new record for the holiday session. Three new releases entered the top five while Academy Award nominees for best picture watched their grosses surge over the Friday-to-Monday span.

Hannibal was once again at the head of the table and feasted on a staggering $33.5M over four days in its second weekend, according to final studio figures. The MGM/Universal co-production quickly became the first movie of the year to cross the $100M mark by taking in a massive $107.4M in only eleven days of release. With its Friday-to-Sunday portion down 49% from last weekend's record-shattering opening, Hannibal averaged a delectable $10,346 over the long weekend while playing in 3,238 cinemas. The R-rated film set a new record for Presidents' Day weekend beating the $30M four-day haul of Titanic which was in its ninth frame in 1998.

Starring Anthony Hopkins, Julianne Moore, and Gary Oldman, Hannibal has captured the attention of moviegoers across the country and around the world. Larry Gleason, distribution president for domestic partner MGM, stated "We're very happy with this second weekend and with reaching $100M in just ten days."

Overseas, the Ridley Scott picture is performing just as splendidly with powerful number one openings this weekend in Australia, Germany, and the United Kingdom. International partner Universal reported that the killer thriller debuted with $2.6M over four days Down Under, $6.3M over the same in Germany, and $9.5M in three days in the U.K. becoming the distributor's biggest opening in that market ever. In Italy, where parts of the film were shot, the ten-day gross stands at $9.5M. Produced for $78M, Hannibal could gross $300-400M at the worldwide box office.

Chris Rock arrived in second place with a strong opening for his new comedy Down to Earth which grossed $20M over the Friday-to-Monday span. Playing in 2,521 theaters, the Paramount remake of 1978's Heaven Can Wait averaged a solid $7,944 per location. Down to Earth finds Rock as a standup comedian who dies before his time and is sent back to the mortal world into the body of a murdered white millionaire. Regina King, Chazz Palminteri, and Eugene Levy also starred while Chris and Paul Weitz (American Pie) directed. Budgeted at $28M, the comedy enjoyed an impressive 41% Friday-to-Saturday jump and scored a B grade with audiences according to CinemaScore. Paramount reported that about one-third of the turnout was African-American and the male-female split was even.

Disney debuted its animated feature Recess: School's Out over the holiday weekend and claimed third place with $13.5M in four days. Based on the popular television series, the G-rated film averaged $5,128 from 2,624 venues and played mostly to kids, according to a Buena Vista spokesman.

The weekend's other new release, the romance Sweet November starring Keanu Reeves and Charlize Theron, premiered in fourth with $11M. Savaged by critics, the PG-13 drama opened in 2,268 theaters and averaged a moderate $4,857 over the long weekend. November's slim 11% Friday-to-Saturday increase may indicate a rough road ahead. The Warner Bros. film played primarily to adult women as the audience was 72% female, according to studio distribution head Dan Fellman.

Honored with ten Academy Award nominations, Ang Lee's Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon saw its weekend take soar to a terrific $10.5. Sony Classics added 447 theaters expanding from 1,204 to 1,651 giving the martial arts epic a solid average of $6,337 over four days. Starring Chow Yun-Fat, Michelle Yeoh, and Zhang Ziyi, the Mandarin-language release generated the largest weekend gross of its eleven-week run propelling its gravity-defying total to an amazing $73.2M. Crouching Tiger should reach the $100M mark in North America by early March.

Another Oscar nominee headed for the century mark was Steven Soderbergh's drug drama Traffic which placed sixth with $7.5M. The USA Films release jumped significantly from last weekend while its theater total remained relatively constant. Starring Michael Douglas, Benicio Del Toro, Don Cheadle, and Catherine Zeta-Jones, Traffic has upped its cume to a robust $80M.

With 15 Academy Award nominations between them, Crouching Tiger and Traffic hope to enjoy prolonged box office runs in the weeks ahead as moviegoers sample the most honored films of 2000. By mid-March, the two pictures should become the 21st and 22nd films released last year to gross over $100M domestically.

Plus, Soderbergh will become the third director to have two $100M+ blockbusters in the past twelve months. The double Oscar nominee saw his hit drama Erin Brockovich open last March and collect $125.6M. Ridley Scott hit the nine-digit mark with both Gladiator and Hannibal while Robert Zemeckis has accomplished the rare feat with What Lies Beneath and Cast Away.

Miramax expanded its best picture nominee Chocolat by adding 333 theaters and grossed $5.7M over the long weekend. The romantic comedy scored its best weekend gross to date and has raised its sum to $34.1M. Starring Juliette Binoche and Johnny Depp, Chocolat nabbed five Academy Award nominations.

After eight weeks in the top five, the island adventure Cast Away drifted down to ninth place with $5.4M. With $216.9M to date, Oscar nominee Tom Hanks now has the second-biggest live-action film of his career behind 1994's Forrest Gump which was also directed by Zemeckis. On the all-time domestic blockbusters chart, Cast Away sits at number 26, ahead of the Hanks-Spielberg collaboration Saving Private Ryan.

Rounding out the top ten were the Sony comedies The Wedding Planner in seventh with $6.7M with a $47M total, and Saving Silverman in tenth with $4.8M for a $14.2M cume.

In limited release, Sony Pictures Classics reopened Pollock, a biographical drama from actor/director Ed Harris after a one-week Oscar-qualifying run in late December. The film grossed $305,744 from only 14 theaters in New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles for a sizzling $21,839 average. Harris picked up an Academy Award nomination for best actor for his role in Pollock as did supporting actress Marcia Gay Harden.

Quills, which scored three Academy nominations including one for actor Geoffrey Rush, entered theaters again and took in $330,730 for a cume of $6.2M.

A trio of movies dropped out of the top ten over the holiday weekend. Paramount's surprise smash Save the Last Dance grossed $4M pushing its cume to a funky $79.8M. Modestly produced for $13M, the Julia Stiles-Sean Patrick Thomas romance should find its way to about $90M and flourish on home video this summer. Even the Last Dance soundtrack has been a hot seller and has helped boost interest in the film.

The Coen brothers scored the highest-grossing film of their careers as O Brother, Where Art Thou? reached a total of $25.4M. The figure inched past the $24.6M of 1996's Fargo. O Brother may hold steady in the weeks ahead due to its Oscar nominations, but overall the Buena Vista release looks to find its way to around $35M.

The horror picture Valentine has grossed just $19M to date and should finish with $21-23M.

Compared to three-day projections, Hannibal was close to my $32M forecast. Down to Earth opened better than my $12M prediction while both Recess and Sweet November were close to my three-day projections of $9M for each.

The top ten films grossed a record $122.6M over the four-day period which was up 12% from last year when The Whole Nine Yards opened at number one with $15.9M over the long holiday weekend; and up a mighty 75% from 1999 when Payback reclaimed the top spot with $10.3M.

Take this week's NEW Reader Survey on which film will win the Oscar for Best Picture. In last week's survey, readers were asked if they thought Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon would pass the $100M mark domestically. Of 3,396 responses, 68% said yes while 32% voted no.

Read the Weekly Rewind column which looks back at the opening weekend of The Silence of the Lambs in 1991. For a review of Hannibal visit The Chief Report.

Be sure to check back on Thursday for a complete summary, including projections, for next weekend when 3000 Miles to Graceland and Monkeybone both open.

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

# Title Feb. 16 - 19 Feb. 9 - 11 % Chg. Theaters Weeks AVG Cumulative Dist.
1 Hannibal $ 33,501,505 $ 58,003,121 -42.2 3,238 2 $ 10,346 $ 107,376,007 MGM/UA
2 Down to Earth 20,027,309 2,521 1 7,944 20,027,309 Paramount
3 Recess: School's Out 13,455,016 2,624 1 5,128 13,455,016 Buena Vista
4 Sweet November 11,015,226 2,268 1 4,857 11,015,226 Warner Bros.
5 Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon 10,462,539 5,404,223 93.6 1,651 11 6,337 73,202,832 Sony Classics
6 Traffic 7,498,582 4,432,404 69.2 1,742 8 4,305 80,020,628 USA Films
7 The Wedding Planner 6,708,124 7,704,284 -12.9 2,554 4 2,627 47,033,012 Sony
8 Chocolat 5,669,966 3,071,948 84.6 1,481 10 3,828 34,078,868 Miramax
9 Cast Away 5,401,468 5,157,519 4.7 2,243 9 2,408 216,918,728 Fox
10 Saving Silverman 4,812,228 7,411,852 -35.1 2,467 2 1,951 14,188,721 Sony
11 Save the Last Dance 3,965,681 4,815,748 -17.7 2,052 6 1,933 79,782,942 Paramount
12 O Brother, Where Art Thou? 3,308,585 3,095,782 6.9 847 9 3,906 25,376,665 Buena Vista
13 Finding Forrester 2,007,353 2,506,165 -19.9 1,130 9 1,776 47,641,383 Sony
14 Snatch 1,605,445 2,053,845 -21.8 603 5 2,662 27,475,547 Sony
15 Valentine 1,575,694 3,826,454 -58.8 1,605 3 982 19,028,907 Warner Bros.
16 What Women Want 1,522,847 2,114,223 -28.0 984 10 1,548 177,796,216 Paramount
17 Miss Congeniality 1,430,388 1,917,300 -25.4 1,074 9 1,332 102,379,651 Warner Bros.
18 Thirteen Days 1,154,226 1,547,779 -25.4 603 8 1,914 32,213,821 New Line
19 The Emperor's New Groove 1,123,663 1,330,561 -15.5 873 10 1,287 84,876,378 Buena Vista
20 The Pledge 887,471 1,335,420 -33.5 648 5 1,370 18,894,185 Warner Bros.
Top 5 $ 88,461,595 $ 83,680,999 5.7
Top 10 118,551,963 102,923,335 15.2
Top 20 137,133,316 120,580,822 13.7
Top 20 vs. 2000 137,133,316 124,625,663 10.0

Last Updated : February 20, 2001 at 8:30PM EST