Weekend Box Office (February 22 - 24, 2002)

by Gitesh Pandya

THIS WEEKEND With Black History Month coming to an end, two African-American stars led the North American box office to a strong session as Aaliyah's vampire thriller Queen of the Damned debuted at number one pushing Denzel Washington's drama John Q down to a solid second-place finish. Kevin Costner's new chiller Dragonfly settled for a decent opening in third. A dynamic breadth in the marketplace kept the box office ahead of last year's frame as fourteen films generated weekend grosses of at least $3M each.

Queen of the Damned, the final film made by singer-actress Aaliyah before her untimely death last summer, topped the charts in its first weekend with $14.8M, according to final studio figures. Sinking its fangs into 2,511 theaters, the Warner Bros. release averaged a delectable $5,877 per venue. Ethnic moviegoers made up a sizable portion of the audience and females under 25 accounted for about one-third of the crowd according to Dan Fellman, distribution president of the studio. Patrons polled by CinemaScore were not very impressed giving Queen a C+ grade indicating a rough road in the long-term as most horror films experience.

After a strong number one opening over Presidents Day weekend, Denzel Washington's hostage drama John Q slipped to second place with $12.5M. Down 39%, the New Line title has grossed a lively $39.8M in ten days and should find its way to $75-80M.

Kevin Costner's latest film Dragonfly flew into third place with $10.2M from 2,507 theaters for a moderate $4,075 average. Directed by Tom Shadyac (Liar, Liar, The Nutty Professor), the Universal release finds Costner playing a man who believes that his dead wife is talking to him from the grave. CinemaScore audiences gave the PG-13 thriller a B+. Budgeted at $60M, domestic distributor Universal and Spyglass Entertainment will share worldwide revenue. Dragonfly opened better than the actor's previous two movies 3000 Miles to Graceland ($7.2M) and Thirteen Days ($9.8M), but came nowhere near his career-best debuts - Robin Hood ($25.6M in 1991) and Waterworld ($21.2M in 1995).

Disney's animated feature Return to Never Land enjoyed a solid sophomore session slipping just one spot to fourth with $9M. Off only 24%, the G-rated toon has grossed $27.3M in ten days and seems headed for $55-65M.

Paramount's Britney Spears road picture Crossroads lost more than half of its audience in its second weekend tumbling 52% to $7M. Still, the $12M film has taken in $26.2M in ten days and should end with a healthy $35-40M.

The kid comedy Big Fat Liar eased only 28% to $6.3M in its third lap and pushed its 17-day total to $33.2M. Universal stablemate A Beautiful Mind followed in seventh with $5.3M upping its cume to $132.7M.

The Bruce Willis battle drama Hart's War fell 43% in its second mission to $4.5M. The MGM release has collected a disappointing ten-day sum of $15M and looks to complete its tour of duty with $25-30M.

The cop comedy Super Troopers declined a decent 37% in its sophomore frame and grossed $3.9M. With $12.5M in ten days, the Fox Searchlight release should find its way to about $25M - a hearty figure for a $3M Sundance acquisition.

Rounding out the top ten with a loud thud was Arnold Schwarzenegger's revenge thriller Collateral Damage which suffered a steep 54% fall, the worst in the top ten, for a $3.9 weekend take and a $34.6M cume.

Outside of the top ten, Sony's Black Hawk Down crossed the century mark with a weekend gross of $3.6M lifting its cume to $101.3M. New Line's juggernaut The Lord of the Rings conjured up $3.5M in its tenth weekend giving the New Line smash a dazzling $283.2M to date.

Buena Vista's Snow Dogs and The Count of Monte Cristo took in tallies of $3.3M and $3.2M, respectively, giving the pair cumes of $72.6M and $44.6M. Oscar nominee Gosford Park grossed $2M for USA Films, off a slim 14%, for a total of $28.4M. Miramax's In the Bedroom, also up for best picture, grossed $2.25M lifting its cume to $26.15M.

Generating the largest per-theater average of any film playing in North America was USA Films' Indian family saga Monsoon Wedding which platformed at just two Manhattan theaters and grossed $68,546 for a scorching $34,273 average. Directed by Mira Nair, the award-winning picture opens in Los Angeles next weekend and adds a dozen more markets on March 8.

The top ten films grossed $77.3M which was up 11% from last year when Hannibal remained in the top spot with $15.8M; and up 16% from 2000 when The Whole Nine Yards held onto number one with $9.6M.

Compared to projections, Queen of the Damned opened below my $17M forecast while Dragonfly debuted extremely close to my $11M prediction.

Take this week's NEW Reader Survey on the opening of We Were Soldiers. In last week's survey, readers were asked who would win the Oscar for Best Actress. Of 1,491 responses, 37% picked Nicole Kidman, 36% chose Sissy Spacek, 20% selected Halle Berry, 4% said Renee Zellweger, and 3% went with Judi Dench.

For a review of Queen of the Damned visit The Chief Report.

Be sure to check back on Thursday for a complete summary, including projections, for next weekend when We Were Soldiers and 40 Days and 40 Nights both open.

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

# Title Feb 22 - 24 Feb 15 - 17 % Chg. Theaters Weeks AVG Cumulative Dist.
1 Queen of the Damned $ 14,757,535 2,511 1 $ 5,877 $ 14,757,535 Warner Bros.
2 John Q 12,473,834 20,275,194 -38.5 2,505 2 4,980 39,804,238 New Line
3 Dragonfly 10,216,025 2,507 1 4,075 10,216,025 Universal
4 Return to Never Land 8,990,061 11,889,631 -24.4 2,626 2 3,423 27,266,300 Buena Vista
5 Crossroads 7,010,111 14,527,187 -51.7 2,381 2 2,944 26,175,774 Paramount
6 Big Fat Liar 6,324,015 8,716,955 -27.5 2,437 3 2,595 33,233,880 Universal
7 A Beautiful Mind 5,306,985 8,095,090 -34.4 2,069 10 2,565 132,688,491 Universal
8 Hart's War 4,461,246 7,771,753 -42.6 2,459 2 1,814 15,000,723 MGM
9 Super Troopers 3,907,269 6,203,906 -37.0 1,805 2 2,165 12,476,791 Fox Searchlight
10 Collateral Damage 3,855,353 8,413,022 -54.2 2,410 3 1,600 34,601,095 Warner Bros.
11 Black Hawk Down 3,603,377 6,219,706 -42.1 1,802 9 2,000 101,310,344 Sony
12 The Lord of the Rings 3,457,862 4,701,851 -26.5 1,510 10 2,290 283,191,086 New Line
13 Snow Dogs 3,337,801 5,136,698 -35.0 2,194 6 1,521 72,626,533 Buena Vista
14 The Count of Monte Cristo 3,210,840 4,826,724 -33.5 1,353 5 2,373 44,640,851 Buena Vista
15 I Am Sam 2,268,809 3,646,808 -37.8 1,074 9 2,112 33,135,033 New Line
16 In the Bedroom 2,250,243 2,647,968 -15.0 1,103 14 2,040 26,150,628 Miramax
17 Monster's Ball 2,097,738 2,725,306 -23.0 554 9 3,787 10,761,306 Lions Gate
18 Gosford Park 2,014,025 2,353,919 -14.4 821 9 2,453 28,423,398 USA Films
19 A Walk to Remember 1,568,462 3,204,026 -51.0 1,306 5 1,201 38,173,310 Warner Bros.
20 Rollerball 1,184,806 3,946,661 -70.0 1,409 3 841 17,553,061 MGM
Top 5 53,447,566 63,821,989 -16.3
Top 10 77,302,434 97,249,142 -20.5
Top 20 102,296,397 129,225,167 -20.8
Top 20 vs. 2001 102,296,397 83,753,703 22.1

Last Updated : February 26, 2002 at 3:30AM EST