Weekend Box Office (March 21 - 23, 2003)

*** Oscar Winners and Grosses ***

THIS WEEKEND For the third straight weekend, North American moviegoers made the cross-cultural comedy Bringing Down the House the top film at the box office as four new releases were met with mostly subdued openings. Continuing the current trend of consumers looking for happy and fun forms of entertainment, comedies and lighthearted films experienced the smallest declines while dark and violent films suffered the largest drops. Meanwhile, extensive television coverage of the war with Iraq kept many people at home, according to several analysts, but top Oscar nominees still managed to attract fans in the final days before the Academy Awards.

Bringing Down the House became only the second film in the past year to spend three straight weekends at number one with a gross of $16.2M, according to final studio figures. The Buena Vista success story slipped just 27% and continued to show remarkable staying power collecting a potent $83.3M in just 17 days. The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers is the only other film that has managed to three-peat in the last twelve months. Averaging a solid $5,644 from 2,871 locations, House stars Oscar host Steve Martin and Academy Award nominee Queen Latifah and has attracted a very broad audience. At its current pace, the PG-13 comedy could make its way to $130-150M domestically.

Opening close behind in second place was the Warner Bros. suspense thriller Dreamcatcher starring Morgan Freeman and Jason Lee with $15M. Based on a Stephen King story, the Lawrence Kasdan film averaged a good $5,103 from 2,945 theaters. The R-rated film did not fare well with moviegoers as those polled by CinemaScore.com gave it a discouraging C+ grade.

Spy kid Agent Cody Banks dropped a spot to third with $9.2M in its second mission. The MGM adventure film witnessed a good hold losing just 34% of its audience from its bow and pushed its ten-day cume to $26.5M. Cody looks to end with $50-55M.

Opening in fourth place with a modest debut was the Gwenyth Paltrow airline comedy View From the Top with $7M. The Miramax release landed in 2,508 theaters and averaged a mild $2,795. Reviews were not generally positive and moviegoers gave View a not-so-encouraging CinemaScore.com grade of B-.

Paramount's FBI thriller The Hunted tumbled 52% to $6.5M in its second weekend to place fifth. The Tommy Lee Jones pic has grossed $23.4M in ten days and should reach about $40M.

Winning six trophies on Sunday night, Oscar darling Chicago collected another $6.2M in its 13th weekend of release. Off only 13%, the Miramax juggernaut has grossed $134M to date and should keep the momentum going throughout the spring with its accolades.

Disney offered kids the new animated film Piglet's Big Movie which grossed $6.1M in its premiere. Averaging a mild $2,926 in 2,084 venues, the G-rated toon scored in exit polls earning an A grade by those polled by CinemaScore.com.

Following in eighth place was the Bruce Willis military saga Tears of the Sun which plunged 49% to $4.4M lifting its cume to $37.9M. Tears and The Hunted both skew towards adult males and suffered the worst declines in the top ten. This weekend's saturation television news coverage of the war in Iraq may have contributed to the hefty drops by keeping that same demo glued to their tv sets.

Old School, another adult male-skewing film, experienced the largest decline of its five-week run dropping 42% to $3.9M. DreamWorks' hit comedy has banked $67M to date.

Artisan watched its gay cruise ship comedy Boat Trip dock in tenth place with a disappointing $3.8M debut. Cuba Goodling Jr.'s R-rated film averaged a weak $2,226 from 1,714 theaters.

Just like Chicago, the other Oscar nominees for best picture witnessed slim declines. Paramount's The Hours dipped 20% to $1M pushing its total to $38.9M. The Pianist also took in $1M for Focus Features, off 21%, for a $20.2M sum. New Line's The Two Towers dropped only 24% to $768,554 leading to a mammoth $334.8M total. Miramax added theaters to the run of Gangs of New York and increased its gross by 14% to $566,576 upping its cume to $77M.

Once again generating the best per-theater average by far of any film in release was Fox Searchlight's cross-cultural soccer comedy Bend It Like Beckham which grossed $178,076 from just eight theaters for a muscular $22,260 average. After 12 days, the award-winning British Indian comedy has taken in $437,865 and is set to expand into a dozen new markets on Friday including Boston, San Francisco, Dallas, and Washington D.C.

Four films dropped out of the top ten this weekend. Paramount's hit romantic comedy How to Lose A Guy in 10 Days declined 37% in its seventh date to $2.9M pushing its cume to $98.3M. The $30M film looks to conclude with $105-110M. The New Line fright flick Willard fell apart in its sophomore frame crumbling 65% to $1.4M. The killer rat pic has nibbled on $6.2M and should reach only about $9M before scurrying off to home video shelves.

The Fox comic hit Daredevil plunged 53% to $1.4M as well and lifted its total to $98.4M. A $100-103M final seems likely. Daredevil and How to Lose A Guy in 10 Days have been fighting over the distinction of becoming the first new release of 2003 to cross the $100M mark. Despite having fewer theaters and a smaller opening weekend, 10 Days should be able to claim that title by the end of the week thanks to its strong legs.

Like most other action films in release, the Jet Li-DMX film Cradle 2 the Grave took a big hit falling 65% to $1M for a $33.5M cume. The Warner Bros. title should reach $35-37M.

The top ten films grossed $78.4M which was down 31% from last year when Blade II opened at number one with $32.5M; but up 24% from 2001 when Heartbreakers debuted on top with $11.8M.

Compared to projections, Dreamcatcher opened a couple of notches below my $17M forecast while View From the Top debuted well below my $12M prediction. Piglet's Big Movie and Boat Trip also bowed weaker than my respective projections of $8M and $6M.

Take this week's NEW Reader Survey on this year's Academy Award surprises. In last week's survey, readers were asked if Bringing Down the House would reach $150M domestically. Of 2,043 responses, 56% said Yes while 44% thought No.

For reviews of Agent Cody Banks 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 Head of State, The Core, and Basic all open.

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

# Title Mar 21 - 23 Mar 14 - 16 % Chg. Theaters Weeks AVG Cumulative Distributor
1 Bringing Down the House $ 16,204,468 $ 22,054,934 -26.5 2,871 3 $ 5,644 $ 83,349,134 Buena Vista
2 Dreamcatcher 15,027,423 2,945 1 5,103 15,027,423 Warner Bros.
3 Agent Cody Banks 9,227,614 14,064,317 -34.4 3,369 2 2,739 26,531,584 MGM
4 View From The Top 7,009,513 2,508 1 2,795 7,009,513 Miramax
5 The Hunted 6,510,154 13,482,638 -51.7 2,517 2 2,586 23,390,799 Paramount
6 Chicago 6,176,021 7,105,479 -13.1 2,565 13 2,408 134,014,534 Miramax
7 Piglet's Big Movie 6,097,758 2,084 1 2,926 6,097,758 Buena Vista
8 Tears of the Sun 4,435,782 8,705,853 -49.0 2,810 3 1,579 37,921,775 Sony
9 Old School 3,904,358 6,670,577 -41.5 2,033 5 1,920 66,960,634 DreamWorks
10 Boat Trip 3,815,075 1,714 1 2,226 3,815,075 Artisan
11 How To Lose A Guy in 10 Days 2,946,064 4,685,917 -37.1 1,840 7 1,601 98,256,960 Paramount
12 Daredevil 1,419,555 3,030,687 -53.2 1,405 6 1,010 98,402,763 Fox
13 Willard 1,402,650 4,010,593 -65.0 1,762 2 796 6,243,789 New Line
14 Cradle 2 the Grave 1,033,473 2,974,489 -65.3 1,242 4 832 33,546,248 Warner Bros.
15 The Pianist 1,031,666 1,303,069 -20.8 540 13 1,910 20,200,998 Focus
16 The Hours 1,002,679 1,250,613 -19.8 628 13 1,597 38,888,533 Paramount
17 The Jungle Book 2 968,099 2,533,740 -61.8 1,214 6 797 45,494,081 Buena Vista
18 About Schmidt 845,427 1,093,228 -22.7 533 15 1,586 62,908,447 New Line
19 The Quiet American 801,909 990,821 -19.1 372 18 2,156 9,854,961 Miramax
20 The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers 768,554 1,014,613 -24.3 518 14 1,484 334,790,872 New Line
Top 5 $ 53,979,172 $ 65,413,221 -17.5
Top 10 78,408,166 86,785,484 -9.7
Top 20 90,628,242 98,753,567 -8.2
Top 10 vs. 2002 90,628,242 127,606,333 -29.0

Last Updated : March 25, 2003 at 12:30AM EST