Weekend Box Office (March 24 - 26, 2000)

*** List of Academy Award Winners ***

THIS WEEKEND The American beauty Julia Roberts topped the box office for the second straight weekend with the legal drama Erin Brockovich which narrowly beat out a surprisingly strong debut by the martial arts action pic Romeo Must Die. Two teen pictures flunked in their freshman outings while the top Oscar candidates saw increases over last weekend. Elsewhere, The Sixth Sense, Sleepy Hollow, and Toy Story 2 reached notable box office milestones.

Universal's Erin Brockovich grossed $18.6M in its second weekend of release, according to final figures, allowing it to retain its number one ranking. The Julia Roberts hit dropped 34% from last weekend and raised its ten-day total to a hefty $55.9M. The A-list star's last back-to-back reign atop the charts was with 1993's The Pelican Brief, another legal thriller. The studio expected a dramatic Sunday decline due to its core audience of adult women being stolen away by the Academy Awards broadcast. Otherwise, Erin Brockovich held up remarkably well as evidenced by its 21% Friday-to-Friday decline and 22% Saturday-to-Saturday slip. A prolonged stay in the top ten is likely for the Steven Soderbergh-directed film.

Martial arts star Jet Li exploded on the scene in the new urban action picture Romeo Must Die which opened with a powerful $18M over the weekend. The Warner Bros. release features Li as a man caught between rival Asian and Black gangs and also stars singer Aaliyah, rapper DMX, and Delroy Lindo. Romeo lovingly kicked its way into 2,641 theaters and delivered a very strong $6,821 average which beat out all others in the top ten. Produced by Joel Silver (The Matrix, Lethal Weapon) the $25M actioner has brought in a red hot $24.6M worth of ticket stubs since its Wednesday launch.

Warner Bros. distribution head Dan Fellman was very pleased with the performance of Romeo Must Die saying it was the top choice among young men during a time when Erin Brockovich and the Oscars were distracting adult women. A 30% Friday-to-Saturday increase could bode well for the future. Romeo Must Die marks the first leading role for Jet Li in an American film and follows his last release, the Hong Kong sci-fi action pic Black Mask, which grossed a total of $12.5M last summer.

Enjoying the lowest decline in the top ten, the suspense thriller Final Destination scared up $7.2M in its sophomore weekend giving it a splendid $20.4M in ten days. The New Line horror pic eased 28% from its strong debut and could reach roughly $40M.

Moviegoers continued to abort Brian De Palma's Mission to Mars as the outer space drama tumbled 50% to $5.7M. After 17 days, Buena Vista's expensive, effects-filled tale has reached an orbit of $49.2M and may dock at $60-65M.

Two new teen flicks followed with Fox's Here on Earth, starring Chris Klein, Leelee Sobieski, and Josh Hartnett, collecting a weak $4.5M to snag a fifth place bow. The romantic drama debuted in 1,714 sites and averaged a mild $2,632 per theater. Here on Earth declined 11% on Saturday indicating a bumpy road ahead.

Splitting the high school vote with Earth was the dating comedy Whatever it Takes which scored only $4.1M in its premiere frame. The Sony title opened wider in 2,272 theaters, averaging a poor grade of $1,806 per playdate, and a feeble 9% Friday-to-Saturday increase.

The newly-crowned Oscar champion American Beauty saw ticket sales climb over last weekend as the DreamWorks blockbuster grossed $4M for a healthy 27% jump. With $108.5M in the suburban bank, the Kevin Spacey-Annette Bening satire should post scorching figures during the week now that it has won five Academy Awards. American Beauty's tally thus far is especially impressive considering it has never grossed more than $10M on any weekend and has peaked at number three on the charts.

The hit family film My Dog Skip slid 42% to $3.1M giving the Warner Bros. title a solid $26M thus far. The Cider House Rules rose 13% to $2.8M putting the Miramax contender at $49.6M overall. With only two trophies in the Supporting Actor and Adapted Screenplay categories, public interest may dry up fast in the weeks ahead. Rounding out the top ten was The Whole Nine Yards with $2M for a $54.1M cume.

Three films dropped out of the top ten over the weekend. Johnny Depp's supernatural thriller The Ninth Gate fell 45% to $1.9M in its third frame pushing its total to a modest $15.6M. The $38M production should go on to gross about $20M for Artisan.

While Depp's fight with the Devil has not caught on, his hunt for the Headless Horseman reached blockbuster status. Paramount's Oscar-winning Sleepy Hollow, which opened in November with a powerful $30.1M, crossed the $100M domestic barrier in its nineteenth weekend making it the 21st, and possibly final, motion picture released in 1999 to cross the century mark.

The successful kidpics The Tigger Movie and Snow Day each collected under $1M over the weekend pushing their respective cumes to $43M and $57.8M.

While Buena Vista watched their megablockbusters The Sixth Sense and Toy Story 2 get shut out at the Oscars, both films climbed a notch on the All-Time Domestic Blockbusters list. The ghostly thriller's $290.3M cume displaced The Empire Strikes Back in the number ten spot while the animated sequel's $242.2M tally surpassed Twister to reach the number seventeen position.

Compared to projections, Erin Brockovich came in a couple of notches below my $21M forecast while Romeo Must Die opened stronger than my $13M Friday-to-Sunday prediction. Here on Earth and Whatever It Takes both debuted a bit under my $6M projection for each while Final Destination was on target with my $7M forecast.

Take this week's NEW Reader Survey on which of next weekend's new releases will have the best opening. In last week's survey, readers were asked which film would win the Academy Award for Best Picture. Of 2,373 responses, 52% correctly chose American Beauty, 28% picked The Sixth Sense, 9% selected The Green Mile, 6% said The Insider, and 5% went with The Cider House Rules.

Check the list of Academy Award winners and their current domestic grosses. Be sure to read the Weekly Rewind column which reports on the performances of several limited release titles. For a review of American Psycho visit The Chief Report.

The top ten films over the weekend grossed $70M which was up 33% from last year when Forces of Nature remained on top with $9.4M, and up 6% from 1998 when Titanic grossed $15.2M in its fifteenth and final weekend at number one.

Be sure to check back on Thursday for a complete summary, including projections, for next weekend when The Road to El Dorado, The Skulls, and High Fidelity all hit theaters.

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

# Title Mar. 24 - 26 Mar. 17 - 19 % Chg. Theaters Weeks AVG Cumulative Dist.
1 Erin Brockovich $ 18,545,755 $ 28,138,465 -34.1 2,851 2 $ 6,505 $ 55,854,440 Universal
2 Romeo Must Die 18,014,503 2,641 1 6,821 24,583,103 Warner Bros.
3 Final Destination 7,218,840 10,015,822 -27.9 2,587 2 2,790 20,422,961 New Line
4 Mission to Mars 5,720,133 11,385,709 -49.8 3,101 3 1,845 49,221,946 Buena Vista
5 Here on Earth 4,510,705 1,714 1 2,632 4,510,705 Fox
6 Whatever It Takes 4,104,298 2,272 1 1,806 4,104,298 Sony
7 American Beauty 4,024,983 3,159,322 27.4 1,662 28 2,422 108,488,063 DreamWorks
8 My Dog Skip 3,058,430 5,268,241 -41.9 2,331 11 1,312 26,018,045 Warner Bros.
9 The Cider House Rules 2,799,556 2,477,000 13.0 1,671 16 1,675 49,636,626 Miramax
10 The Whole Nine Yards 2,003,905 3,274,453 -38.8 2,109 6 950 54,106,403 Warner Bros.
11 The Ninth Gate 1,930,263 3,531,618 -45.3 1,694 3 1,139 15,601,499 Artisan
12 Fantasia 2000 1,332,858 1,553,037 -14.2 54 13 24,683 35,912,148 Buena Vista
13 The Sixth Sense 1,280,345 1,280,780 0.0 876 34 1,462 290,288,427 Buena Vista
14 Snow Day 946,452 2,205,015 -57.1 1,924 7 492 57,832,757 Paramount
15 The Tigger Movie 883,586 1,771,853 -50.1 1,360 7 650 43,001,992 Buena Vista
16 Drowning Mona 712,007 1,727,680 -58.8 1,126 4 632 14,814,539 Destination
17 Boys Don't Cry 695,333 512,618 35.6 280 25 2,483 7,802,635 Fox Searchlight
18 Pitch Black 614,790 1,446,415 -57.5 917 6 670 37,620,175 USA Films
19 Wonder Boys 606,017 1,186,526 -48.9 1,210 5 501 17,927,842 Paramount
20 The Next Best Thing 571,490 1,652,564 -65.4 1,682 4 340 14,422,883 Paramount
Top 5 $ 54,009,936 $ 58,339,855 -7.4
Top 10 70,001,108 71,227,498 -1.7
Top 20 79,574,249 84,227,653 -5.5

Last Updated : March 27 at 9:00PM EST

Written by Gitesh Pandya