Weekend Box Office (February 25 - 27, 2000)

THIS WEEKEND Moviegoers spread their dollars across a field of many different films but the box office was once again led by the wiseguy antics of The Whole Nine Yards. Kidpic Snow Day kept packing in fans while new entries like the action movie Reindeer Games and the comedic drama Wonder Boys debuted with respectable but not stellar results. No film managed a weekend gross of $10M and only one picture generated a per-theater average north of $4,000 indicating some weakness in the overall marketplace. However, the top ten did post gains compared to the year-ago period.

Bruce Willis and Matthew Perry held steady at number one for the second consecutive weekend with their mob comedy The Whole Nine Yards which grossed $9.6M, according to final studio figures. The Warner Bros. release was off only 30% from the Friday-to-Sunday portion of last weekend's Presidents' Day holiday frame and boosted its ten-day cume to a solid $28.4M. Produced for about $25M, Whole Nine should be able to score $55-60M at the domestic box office this spring if it continues at this pace. The comedy has broadened its audience beyond the core older male segment and is "moving younger this weekend" according to studio distribution chief Dan Fellman.

Kids continued to rally behind Paramount's Snow Day which rose one spot to second place with $8.3M sliding just 28%. After 17 days of release, the Nickelodeon-produced family film has snowballed to $43.1M and could certainly clear $65M eventually, making it a huge surprise hit. Despite harsh reviews, children and parents are enjoying the fun story and are responding to the value of the Nick brand. The kids cable network has many more movies up its sleeve including the animated sequel Rugrats in Paris, set for a November release, which will square off against Universal's Jim Carrey-starrer How the Grinch Stole Christmas and Disney's live-action 102 Dalmatians at the Thanksgiving box office.

Ben Affleck and Charlize Theron headlined the new action thriller Reindeer Games which opened with a moderate $8.1M to land in third place. The John Frankenheimer-directed picture ambushed 2,204 theaters and averaged a not-so-explosive $3,688 per venue. Reindeer Games finds Affleck as a recently released prisoner who is recruited into a casino heist against his will. Miramax backed the $40M release with a heavy marketing push and had Affleck and Theron do a full press tour to promote the movie. The $8.1M debut shows that while Affleck can use his sex symbol power to attract a medium-sized audience, he still cannot open a picture with a bang. Openings for the actor's recent films include $8.7M for November's Dogma which also starred Matt Damon and $13.5M for last March's Forces of Nature which was headlined by Sandra Bullock.

Slipping two spots to fourth place was Sony's comedy Hanging Up with $7.4M in its sophomore weekend. Dropping a heavy 45%, the $40M Meg Ryan-Diane Keaton-Lisa Kudrow picture has collected $26M in ten days and should complete its call with about $45M. Hanging Up, which did not impress many critics, is not exciting moviegoers either as the film suffered the worst decline in the top ten.

Pitch Black, the sci-fi thriller from USA Films, fell a reasonable 38% to $7.1M and rounded out the top five. The $25M suspense actioner has grossed $22.9M in ten days and seems headed for a solid $40-45M final.

Enjoying the second lowest decline in the top ten, Disney's The Tigger Movie placed sixth with $6.3M easing only 23%. Originally conceived as a direct-to-video title, the toon tale raised its cume to an impressive $30.6M and has proved that there is room for two family films to succeed at the same time.

Hollywood's most famous groom-to-be returned to theaters this weekend in the comedic drama Wonder Boys from Paramount. Opening in 1,253 locations, the Michael Douglas film debuted in seventh place with $5.8M giving it the best per-theater average in the top ten with $4,636 per site. Wonder Boys tells the story of a college professor struggling to complete a followup to his wildly successful hit novel who discovers that one of his students is an immensely gifted writer as well. Tobey Maguire, Frances McDormand, Robert Downey Jr., and Katie Holmes round out a solid cast directed by Curtis Hanson (L.A. Confidential, The Hand That Rocks The Cradle).

Paramount stated that Wonder Boys performed very well in major markets and was certainly helped by the great reviews from critics. The studio expects the film to have legs as strong word-of-mouth spreads and plans to add about 300 more theaters on Friday. Its strong 62% Friday-to-Saturday increase is a bullish sign for the future. With Michael Douglas, a diverse supporting cast, and a college setting, Wonder Boys pulled in a wide range of moviegoers across the 18-49 age group, according to the studio. The future Mr. Zeta-Jones, whose thrillers and action pics normally open much wider, has not had a film debut in so few theaters since 1993's Falling Down which opened with $8.7M in 1,220 theaters on its way to $40.9M.

Scream 3 fell 42% to eighth place with $5M in its fourth weekend of release pushing its domestic tally to $78.1M. By comparison, Scream 2 grossed $85.5M in its first 24 days and was helped by the Christmas and New Year's frames as well as by having its core audience out of school and able to see it any day of the week. The third installment of the Wes Craven horror trilogy should reach about $90M and will need some additional support from Miramax if it hopes to cross the $100M like the first two movies did.

Nominated for eight Academy Awards including Best Picture, American Beauty displayed the smallest decline in the top ten sliding just 18% to $4.6M. With $87.5M worth of rose petals to its credit, the Kevin Spacey-Annette Bening tragic satire is on course to reach the century mark by Oscar night and could keep heading north depending on which statues it wins that evening. American Beauty is also posting solid results around the world and has crossed the $150M global mark.

Another motion picture competing for the attention of Academy voters is Miramax's The Cider House Rules which expanded from 857 to 1,346 theaters and grossed $4.1M. The 489-theater increase allowed the weekend take to jump 43% and put the film's cume at $31.9M.

Two films featuring Hollywood's hot young stars dropped out of the top ten over the weekend in quick time. The much-hyped dramatic thriller The Beach starring Leonardo DiCaprio continued its rapid descent tumbling 48% to $3.7M in its third frame. Public interest is drying up fast for the $50M picture which has grossed $34.1M in 17 days and looks set to conclude with $40-43M. For Fox, The Beach marks the third consecutive star vehicle to underperform at the box office following Jodie Foster's Anna and the King ($39M) and Brad Pitt's Fight Club ($37M). However, all three should cross $100M in global ticket sales thanks to much stronger performances overseas. But still, Fox has not had a film gross $40M domestically since Jar Jar Binks invaded theaters last May.

The stock market scam artists of New Line's Boiler Room collected $3.1M in their sophomore frame falling 46% from last weekend's initial public offering. The Giovanni Ribisi-Ben Affleck starrer has watched its portfolio grow to just $11M in ten days and should eventually reach about $17-19M.

Fans of the Kevin Bacon Game must have loved all the connections in the box office charts this weekend. Oscar frontrunner American Beauty (the #9 movie) stars Annette Bening who was in The American President with Michael Douglas who stars in #7 Wonder Boys which features Tobey Maguire who is in #10 The Cider House Rules with Charlize Theron who stars in #3 Reindeer Games which was written by Ehren Kruger who penned #8 Scream 3 which stars David Arquette whose sister Rosanna Arquette is in the #1 film The Whole Nine Yards with Matthew Perry who stars every week in Friends with Lisa Kudrow who is at #4 with Hanging Up with Diane Keaton who was in The Other Sister with Giovanni Ribisi who stars in #12 Boiler Room with Vin Diesel who is scaring moviegoers with #5 Pitch Black. Small world.

Buena Vista relaunched The Insider over the weekend hoping to capitalize on its seven Oscar nominations but consumer interest was no different than during its initial release. Back in 651 theaters, the Michael Mann-directed drama grossed $521,342 giving it a weak $801 average per ashtray. The Insider's total now stands at $27.5M. Studio stablemate The Sixth Sense, also nominated for Best Picture, upped its staggering domestic tally to $283.9M.

Rounding out the contenders for Hollywood's most coveted award was The Green Mile which collected $1.9M (off 32%) raising its cume to $131.1M. The Tom Hanks prison saga stands as one of the highest-grossing films to never reach the number one spot on any given weekend. The Green Mile joins such other noteworthy Oscar-winning blockbusters as Good Will Hunting ($138M), As Good As It Gets ($148M), and Dances With Wolves ($184M).

Compared to projections, Reindeer Games did not reach my $13M forecast but Wonder Boys was close to my $7M prediction.

Take this week's NEW Reader Survey on the March release you most want to see. In last week's survey, readers were asked whether they thought The Sixth Sense would reach the $300M domestic mark. Of 2,099 responses, 65% said yes while 35% thought no.

Be sure to read the Weekly Rewind column which goes back to February 1997. This Wednesday's new column will look back at the top March opening weekends. For a review of Reindeer Games visit The Chief Report.

The top ten films over the weekend grossed $66.4M which was up 13% from last year when 8MM opened on top with $14.3M, and up 11% from 1998 when Titanic sailed away with $19.6M to spend its eleventh frame at number one.

Be sure to check back on Thursday for a complete summary, including projections, for next weekend when another pack of films hit theaters including The Next Best Thing, What Planet Are You From?, and Drowning Mona.

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

# Title Feb. 25 - 27 Feb. 18 - 20 % Chg. Theaters Weeks AVG Cumulative Dist.
1 The Whole Nine Yards $ 9,563,311 $ 13,731,070 -30.4 2,910 2 $ 3,286 $ 28,444,377 Warner Bros.
2 Snow Day 8,336,189 11,526,392 -27.7 2,709 3 3,077 43,100,668 Paramount
3 Reindeer Games 8,128,356 2,204 1 3,688 8,128,356 Miramax
4 Hanging Up 7,437,898 13,567,978 -45.2 2,618 2 2,841 26,002,490 Sony
5 Pitch Black 7,136,877 11,577,688 -38.4 1,930 2 3,698 22,930,719 USA Films
6 The Tigger Movie 6,307,178 8,143,808 -22.6 2,818 3 2,238 30,649,524 Buena Vista
7 Wonder Boys 5,808,919 1,253 1 4,636 5,856,853 Paramount
8 Scream 3 5,021,034 8,617,490 -41.7 3,099 4 1,620 78,100,871 Miramax
9 American Beauty 4,607,709 5,592,445 -17.6 1,323 24 3,483 87,525,789 DreamWorks
10 The Cider House Rules 4,066,251 2,834,858 43.4 1,346 12 3,021 31,914,836 Miramax
11 The Beach 3,714,845 7,201,770 -48.4 2,524 3 1,472 34,110,738 Fox
12 Boiler Room 3,095,758 5,742,129 -46.1 1,335 2 2,319 11,030,360 New Line
13 The Green Mile 1,947,106 2,849,438 -31.7 1,746 12 1,115 131,140,276 Warner Bros.
14 Fantasia 2000 1,595,442 2,336,719 -31.7 54 9 29,545 26,767,161 Buena Vista
15 The Sixth Sense 1,547,640 1,652,664 -6.4 992 30 1,560 283,917,914 Buena Vista
16 The Hurricane 1,257,855 2,352,725 -46.5 1,346 9 935 48,135,741 Universal
17 Next Friday 1,204,317 1,811,081 -33.5 1,038 7 1,160 54,134,938 New Line
18 Stuart Little 1,078,890 1,561,058 -30.9 1,300 11 830 136,254,123 Sony
19 Galaxy Quest 738,484 1,237,928 -40.3 817 10 904 69,016,725 DreamWorks
20 The Insider 521,342 197,010 164.6 651 17 801 27,549,240 Buena Vista
Top 5 $ 40,602,631 $ 59,020,618 -31.2
Top 10 66,413,722 88,535,628 -25.0
Top 20 83,115,401 104,525,286 -20.5

Last Updated : February 28 at 9:00PM EST

Written by Gitesh Pandya