Weekend Box Office (March 7 - 9, 2003)
THIS WEEKEND American moviegoers were in the mood for a laugh and Steve Martin and Queen Latifah were happy to provide it. The odd couple's new comedy Bringing Down the House exceeded all industry expectations with its powerful number-one debut leaving the new Bruce Willis war pic Tears of the Sun settling for the runnerup spot.
Buena Vista brought the house down with the new Martin-Latifah laugher which topped the box office generating an amazing $31.1M weekend haul, according to final studio figures. The PG-13 film played in 2,801 theaters and averaged a muscular $11,104 per location. In Bringing Down the House, Martin plays an uptight attorney who gets mismatched with an ex-con (Latifah) through a blind date. The rapper-turned-actress also served as executive producer.
With its polar opposite leads, House was able to appeal to a broad demographic group. According to studio data, 53% of the audience was female and 55% was over 25. Reactions were extremely positive as an incredibly high 98% rated the film "excellent" or "very good" which bodes well for the film's future. Audiences polled by CinemaScore.com, however, gave the film an overall B+ grade. For the month of March, House generated the fourth biggest opening ever following last year's Ice Age ($46.3M), Blade II ($32.5M), and Liar Liar ($31.4M).
Bringing Down the House is just the latest in a series of hit comedies that have been attracting huge audiences this year. Moviegoers have spent $280M on seeing the films Just Married, How to Lose A Guy in 10 Days, Shanghai Knights, Old School, and House. The eventual combined gross for the five hits should reach over $400M. Miramax and Paramount are hoping that America's thirst for funny films continues in the weeks ahead as the studios are releasing the comedies View From the Top with Gwenyth Paltrow and Mike Myers and Head of State starring Chris Rock and Bernie Mac, respectively.
Despite a solid debut, the Bruce Willis military picture Tears of the Sun had to settle for second place with a bow of $17.1M. The R-rated Sony release opened in 2,973 locations and averaged $5,737. In Tears, Willis plays a Navy SEAL on a rescue mission in Nigeria. Reviews were not that favorable but audiences were pleased as the actioner earned a grade of A- from CinemaScore.com.
The DreamWorks comedy Old School delivered another solid frame grossing $9.2M, off 35%, raising its 17-day cume to $50.8M. Oscar favorite Chicago followed in fourth place easing just 13% to $6.8M for a total of $114.4M.
Paramount's hit comedy How To Lose A Guy in 10 Days dropped 35% to $6.7M in its fifth frame and pushed its sum to $86.9M. Last weekend's number one film, the action pic Cradle 2 the Grave, tumbled 60% to $6.5M falling to sixth place. The Warner Bros. release has banked $26.9M in ten days and looks headed to about $40M.
Fox's Daredevil, another former chart-topper that is now fading fast, fell 53% to $5.2M lifting its cume to $91.5M. Disney's The Jungle Book 2 took in $4.3M, down 39%, putting its total at $39.5M. Studio stablemate Shanghai Knights grossed $2.7M for ninth place and was followed by the Universal drama The Life of David Gale with $2.1M. Cumes stand at $54.7M and $17.1M, respectively.
A pair of action films dropped out of the top ten. The big-budget Civil War picture Gods and Generals fell 53% to $1.4M giving it a disappointing $11.1M in 17 days. The Warner Bros. title should surrender at around the $14M mark. The Al Pacino thriller The Recruit lost half its audience and collected $1.4M as well. With $50.3M in sales, the Buena Vista release should conclude its run with a solid $53M.
The top ten films grossed $91.7M which was up 17% from last year when The Time Machine opened at number one with $22.6M; and up an astounding 55% from 2001 when The Mexican remained on top with $12.2M.
Compared to projections, Bringing Down the House far exceeded my $17M forecast although Tears of the Sun was close to my $19M prediction.
Take this week's NEW Reader Survey on whether Chicago will win the Oscar for Best Picture. In last week's survey, readers were asked whether Bringing Down the House or Tears of the Sun would have the bigger opening. Of 1,798 responses, 57% said Tears while 43% correctly predicted House.
For reviews of Bringing Down the House and Bend It Like Beckham visit The Chief Report.
Be sure to check back on Thursday for a complete summary, including projections, for next weekend when Agent Cody Banks, The Hunted, and Willard all debut.
Marketplace: Shop for videos, DVDs, music, books, and posters at discounted prices using search engines
|#||Title||Mar 7 - 9||Feb 28 - Mar 2||% Chg.||Theaters||Weeks||AVG||Cumulative||Distributor|
|1||Bringing Down the House||$ 31,101,026||2,801||1||$ 11,104||$ 31,101,026||Buena Vista|
|2||Tears of the Sun||17,057,213||2,973||1||5,737||17,057,213||Sony|
|5||How To Lose A Guy in 10 Days||6,688,675||10,252,364||-34.8||2,897||5||2,309||86,885,012||Paramount|
|6||Cradle 2 the Grave||6,535,475||16,521,486||-60.4||2,625||2||2,490||26,878,648||Warner Bros.|
|8||The Jungle Book 2||4,258,002||6,984,002||-39.0||2,553||4||1,668||39,521,501||Buena Vista|
|9||Shanghai Knights||2,688,514||5,027,902||-46.5||1,905||5||1,411||54,749,445||Buena Vista|
|10||The Life of David Gale||2,124,235||4,537,395||-53.2||1,872||3||1,135||17,112,763||Universal|
|13||Gods and Generals||1,377,431||2,946,476||-53.3||1,233||3||1,117||11,122,627||Warner Bros.|
|14||About Schmidt||1,376,030||1,860,510||-26.0||845||13||1,628||60,007,505||New Line|
|15||The Recruit||1,359,539||2,728,478||-50.2||1,071||6||1,269||50,281,018||Buena Vista|
|16||The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers||1,227,603||1,618,139||-24.1||703||12||1,746||332,075,527||New Line|
|17||The Quiet American||1,153,381||1,123,552||2.7||381||16||3,027||7,291,271||Miramax|
|18||Final Destination 2||1,034,114||1,892,344||-45.4||881||6||1,174||44,625,000||New Line|
|19||Kangaroo Jack||772,413||1,363,485||-43.4||1,110||8||696||64,691,137||Warner Bros.|
|20||Gangs of New York||518,916||696,852||-25.5||378||12||1,373||75,469,504||Miramax|
|Top 5||$ 70,881,610||$ 59,788,374||18.6|
|Top 10 vs. 2002||103,390,825||94,529,763||9.4|
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 10, 2003 at 7:30PM EST