Weekend Box Office (March 1 - 3, 2002)
by Gitesh Pandya
THIS WEEKEND Mel Gibson's military saga We Were Soldiers opened at number one at the North American box office while Josh Hartnett's sex comedy 40 Days and 40 Nights delivered a solid second-place debut. Oscar nominees and family films continued to show the smallest declines while movies starring teen pop divas suffered the largest dropoffs.
Paramount topped the charts with the new war pic We Were Soldiers which grossed $20.2M in its opening weekend, according to final studio figures. Directed by Randall Wallace, the R-rated Vietnam War tale played ultrawide in 3,143 theaters and averaged a sturdy $6,431 per venue. Adult men made up the largest demographic group for the Mel Gibson film as 56% of the audience was male and 73% were over the age of 25, according to studio tracking. Moviegoers did enjoy We Were Soldiers as those polled by CinemaScore gave the $70M film an A grade.
Gibson, one of Hollywood's most bankable box office titans, has seen all of his wide release films from the last eight years gross at least $75M domestically and aims to keep the streak alive with Soldiers and his next picture, the thriller Signs from M. Night Shyamalan, which is due out on August 2.
After boosting his star wattage with back-to-back Bruckheimer war flicks Pearl Harbor and Black Hawk Down, Josh Hartnett delivered a solid opening for the romantic comedy 40 Days and 40 Nights which opened with $12.2M. The Miramax release played in 2,225 theaters and averaged a healthy $5,496 per location. The R-rated pic skewed 60% female and drew upon young adults in the 17-25 age group. Hartnett aggressively worked the publicity rounds and has now proved that he can open a picture on his own.
Stepping back just one notch to third place was Denzel Washington's HMO-bashing thriller John Q with $8.5M in its third weekend. Off 32%, the New Line title has upped its cume to an impressive $51.2M. By comparison, last fall's Training Day, which earned the actor his fifth Academy Award nomination, collected $57.3M in its first 17 days on its way to $76M.
Disney's animated sequel Return to Never Land dipped 24% in its third weekend to $6.9M bringing its total to $35.7M. Kevin Costner witnessed an encouraging hold for his suspense thriller Dragonfly which slipped 35% to $6.6M in its sophomore frame. The $60M Universal release has grossed $19.2M in ten days and should reach $35-40M.
Tumbling a horrendous 60% to $5.9M was last week's top film, the vampire thriller Queen of the Damned starring the late Aaliyah. The $30M Warner Bros. release has taken in $23.9M in ten days and looks headed for a final bite of $30-35M.
Universal claimed the next two spots with Big Fat Liar and A Beautiful Mind which collected grosses of $5M (down 22%) and $4.6M (off 12%), respectively. Totals stand at $39M and $138.9M.
Britney Spears fell to ninth with Crossroads which grossed $4.1M in its third lap for a total of $31.2M. The Lord of the Rings popped back into the top ten with $3.3M, off a scant 4% in its eleventh magical weekend. The New Line blockbuster has grossed $287.6M and now ranks number 13 among all-time domestic blockbusters ahead of 1990's Home Alone which grossed $285.8M. Ticket prices, however, were much lower eleven years ago.
Mira Nair's Indian family saga Monsoon Wedding expanded into Los Angeles and Canada and grossed a superb $199,534 from 11 theaters for a potent $18,139 average. The cume for the USA Films release after ten days is $296,493 with a dozen more markets being added next weekend.
The top ten films grossed $77.3M which was up 9% from last year when The Mexican opened in the top spot with $20.1M; and up a healthy 50% from 2000 when The Whole Nine Yards held onto number one with $7.2M.
Compared to projections, both We Were Soldiers and 40 Days and 40 Nights opened a couple of notches higher than my forecasts of $17M and $10M respectively.
Take this week's NEW Reader Survey on the Oscar race for Best Actor. In last week's survey, readers were asked how big the opening weekend gross of We Were Soldiers would be. Of 3,160 responses, 46% projected Under $10M, 9% picked $10-15M, 17% thought $15-20M, and 28% said Over $20M.
For a review of Queen of the Damned visit The Chief Report.
Be sure to check back on Thursday for a complete summary, including projections, for next weekend when The Time Machine and All About the Benjamins both debut.
Marketplace: Shop for videos, DVDs, music, books, and posters at discounted prices using search engines
|#||Title||Mar 1 - 3||Feb 22 - 24||% Chg.||Theaters||Weeks||AVG||Cumulative||Dist.|
|1||We Were Soldiers||$ 20,212,543||3,143||1||$ 6,431||$ 20,212,543||Paramount|
|2||40 Days and 40 Nights||12,229,529||2,225||1||5,496||12,229,529||Miramax|
|3||John Q||8,512,403||12,473,834||-31.8||2,456||3||3,466||51,187,048||New Line|
|4||Return to Never Land||6,854,935||8,990,061||-23.7||2,618||3||2,618||35,688,424||Buena Vista|
|6||Queen of the Damned||5,911,449||14,757,535||-59.9||2,511||2||2,354||23,916,561||Warner Bros.|
|7||Big Fat Liar||4,956,960||6,324,015||-21.6||2,232||4||2,221||39,030,420||Universal|
|8||A Beautiful Mind||4,648,985||5,306,985||-12.4||1,962||11||2,370||138,929,921||Universal|
|10||The Lord of the Rings||3,318,231||3,457,862||-4.0||1,303||11||2,547||287,573,505||New Line|
|11||The Count of Monte Cristo||2,466,378||3,210,840||-23.2||1,228||6||2,008||48,045,150||Buena Vista|
|12||Snow Dogs||2,305,529||3,337,801||-30.9||1,802||7||1,279||75,521,473||Buena Vista|
|13||Black Hawk Down||2,304,992||3,603,377||-36.0||1,532||10||1,505||104,678,367||Sony|
|14||Super Troopers||2,135,453||3,907,269||-45.3||1,381||3||1,546||15,783,893||Fox Searchlight|
|15||Collateral Damage||1,945,718||3,855,353||-49.5||1,805||4||1,078||37,645,739||Warner Bros.|
|16||Gosford Park||1,907,299||2,014,025||-5.3||915||10||2,084||31,001,877||USA Films|
|17||Monster's Ball||1,800,243||2,097,738||-14.2||660||10||2,728||13,177,940||Lions Gate|
|18||In the Bedroom||1,708,871||2,250,243||-24.1||1,062||15||1,609||28,635,933||Miramax|
|19||I Am Sam||1,529,214||2,268,809||-32.6||965||10||1,585||35,390,117||New Line|
|Top 5||$ 54,427,875||$ 53,447,566||1.8|
|Top 20 vs. 2001||96,822,761||82,705,037||17.1|
This column is updated three times each week : Thursday (upcoming weekend's summary), Sunday (post-weekend analysis with estimates), and Monday night (actuals). Data source : Exhibitor Relations, EDI. Opinions expressed in this column are those solely of the author.
Last Updated : March 4, 2002 at 9:30PM EST