Weekend Box Office (March 8 - 10, 2002)

by Gitesh Pandya

THIS WEEKEND Racing forward in time and capturing the number one spot at the box office, the sci-fi adventure film The Time Machine starring Guy Pearce debuted with an impressive $22.6M, according to final studio figures. Produced by DreamWorks and Warner Bros., the expensive special effects-filled action film bowed in 2,944 theaters and averaged a terrific $7,680. The Simon Wells-directed picture attracted mostly negative reviews and scored only a C+ grade with opening-night moviegoers polled by CinemaScore. Young males and sci-fi fans made up much of the audience.

The opening of The Time Machine nearly matched the debut of the space adventure film Mission to Mars which bowed this weekend two years ago with $22.9M on its way to $60.9M. For the current year, The Time Machine generated the second-best opening overall after Black Hawk Down's $28.6M launch in January. Jim Tharp, distribution president for DreamWorks, attributed part of the strong opening to the lack of PG-13 films in recent weeks for younger ticket buyers. R-rated films claimed the next three positions on the charts.

Last weekend's commanding officer, Mel Gibson's war drama We Were Soldiers, dropped to second place but displayed a strong hold slipping only 30% to $14.2M. Playing in 3,143 theaters, the action picture averaged a sturdy $4,521 per location. The Paramount release delivered the best second-weekend hold among the four recent military films outperforming sophomore session declines of 41% for Black Hawk Down, 43% for Hart's War, and 57% for Behind Enemy Lines. Produced for $70M, We Were Soldiers has taken in $40.6M in ten days and could find its way to $85-95M domestically reinforcing Gibson's status as one of Hollywood's most bankable stars.

Opening well in third place was Ice Cube's new action-comedy All About the Benjamins which grossed $10M from only 1,505 theaters. Averaging a strong $6,649 per venue, the New Line release rated well with moviegoers as CinemaScore audiences gave the R-rated film an A- grade. With a relatively low negative cost of roughly $14M, Benjamins should easily become the latest in a growing line of profitable collaborations between Ice Cube and New Line following Friday, The Players Club, and Next Friday. The distributor has enjoyed a stellar run at the box office so far this year with holdover grosses from The Lord of the Rings plus new titles like John Q and Benjamins.

Miramax's abstinence comedy 40 Days and 40 Nights dropped 43% in its second weekend to $7M. The Josh Hartnett film has shagged $22.8M after ten days and ten nights and looks to reach $40-45M. The Denzel Washington hostage drama John Q dipped 30% to $5.9M giving the New Line hit $59M to date.

The Peter Pan sequel Return to Never Land placed sixth with $4.5M, declining 35% in its fourth weekend. The Disney title has grossed a solid $41.5M to date. Kevin Costner's supernatural thriller Dragonfly fell 39% to $4M putting the 17-day cume for the Universal release at $24.8M.

Ron Howard's Oscar candidate A Beautiful Mind, which on Saturday earned the helmer the DGA award for best directing of a motion picture, continued its strong post-nomination run dipping just 17% to $3.9M. The Universal/DreamWorks co-production has grossed $144.3M to date with over $30M of that amount being added since garnering its eight Academy Award nominations.

The kid comedy Big Fat Liar, another Universal entry, took ninth with $3.5M in its fifth frame. Sliding 30%, the Frankie Muniz film has enjoyed a durable run and has grossed $43.3M so far.

Rounding out the top ten once again was the fantasy megablockbuster The Lord of the Rings with $2.7M in its twelfth magical weekend. Frodo and pals dipped only 19% from last weekend and pushed their cume to $291.1M. The New Line release now sits at number twelve on the list of all-time domestic blockbusters behind 1999's The Sixth Sense ($293.5M). Lord has collected over $19M since earning its thirteen Oscar nods and has grossed over $759M worldwide since its much-anticipated global launch in December.

A pair of pop music divas fell from the ranks of the top ten. Britney Spears saw her road comedy Crossroads drop 40% to an estimated $2.4M in its fourth spin lifting its cume to $34.3M. Paramount's $12M title should find its way to around $40M. The late singer Aaliyah saw another horrendous 60% decline for her vampire flick Queen of the Damned which has grossed $27.9M thus far and should end with about $30M.

USA Films expanded its Indian ensemble hit Monsoon Wedding from 11 to 76 theaters across North America and grossed a healthy $772,141, nearly jumping into the Top 20. Mira Nair's Golden Globe nominee for best foreign language film averaged a strong $10,160 and raised its cume to $1.2M. Already playing in New York and Los Angeles, Monsoon Wedding added runs this weekend in San Francisco, Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Atlanta, Boston, and several other cities.

Paramount Classics debuted the film industry satire Festival in Cannes and grossed $41,006 from six theaters - two in New York and four in Los Angeles. Averaging a good $6,834 per location, the Henry Jaglom film will widen into more markets on March 22 and 29.

The top ten films grossed $78.3M which was up 32% from last year when The Mexican remained at number one with $12.2M; and up 28% from 2000 when Mission to Mars opened in the top spot with $22.9M.

Compared to projections, The Time Machine and All About the Benjamins both opened a little higher than my respective forecasts of $20M and $9M.

Take this week's NEW Reader Survey on the latest Star Wars Episode II trailer. In last week's survey, readers were asked if they thought Russell Crowe or Denzel Washington would take home the Oscar for Best Actor. Of 3,054 responses, 59% said Crowe while 41% picked Washington.

For a review of The Time Machine visit The Chief Report.

Be sure to check back on Thursday for a complete summary, including projections, for next weekend when Showtime, Ice Age, and Resident Evil all open.

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

# Title Mar 8 - 10 Mar 1 - 3 % Chg. Theaters Weeks AVG Cumulative Dist.
1 The Time Machine $ 22,610,437 2,944 1 $ 7,680 $ 22,610,437 DreamWorks
2 We Were Soldiers 14,208,525 20,212,543 -29.7 3,143 2 4,521 40,552,286 Paramount
3 All About the Benjamins 10,007,291 1,505 1 6,649 10,007,291 New Line
4 40 Days and 40 Nights 7,033,952 12,229,529 -42.5 2,399 2 2,932 22,825,390 Miramax
5 John Q 5,924,783 8,512,403 -30.4 2,382 4 2,487 59,016,204 New Line
6 Return to Never Land 4,459,520 6,854,935 -34.9 2,498 4 1,785 41,503,840 Buena Vista
7 Dragonfly 4,023,320 6,618,465 -39.2 2,431 3 1,655 24,844,780 Universal
8 A Beautiful Mind 3,872,880 4,648,985 -16.7 1,793 12 2,160 144,274,651 Universal
9 Big Fat Liar 3,484,315 4,956,960 -29.7 2,074 5 1,680 43,306,710 Universal
10 The Lord of the Rings 2,683,317 3,318,231 -19.1 1,210 12 2,218 291,149,457 New Line
11 Crossroads 2,442,226 4,054,557 -39.8 2,173 4 1,124 34,325,800 Paramount
12 Queen of the Damned 2,355,421 5,911,449 -60.2 2,150 3 1,096 27,947,250 Warner Bros.
13 Gosford Park 1,688,318 1,907,299 -11.5 918 11 1,839 33,387,034 USA Films
14 Monster's Ball 1,663,494 1,800,243 -7.6 696 11 2,390 15,457,817 Lions Gate
15 The Count of Monte Cristo 1,614,387 2,466,378 -34.5 1,003 7 1,610 50,395,344 Buena Vista
16 Snow Dogs 1,448,312 2,305,529 -37.2 1,364 8 1,062 77,413,283 Buena Vista
17 In the Bedroom 1,409,007 1,708,871 -17.5 995 16 1,416 30,710,084 Miramax
18 Black Hawk Down 1,344,595 2,304,992 -41.7 1,141 11 1,178 106,745,304 Sony
19 I Am Sam 1,241,286 1,945,718 -18.8 801 5 1,550 37,337,038 New Line
20 Super Troopers 1,014,377 2,135,453 -52.5 1,113 4 911 17,454,184 Fox Searchlight
Top 5 $ 59,784,988 $ 54,427,875 9.8
Top 10 78,308,340 77,318,057 1.3
Top 20 94,529,763 96,822,761 -2.4
Top 20 vs. 2001 94,529,763 69,458,924 36.1

Last Updated : March 11, 2002 at 10:30PM EST