Weekend Box Office (April 11 - 13, 2003)

THIS WEEKEND Madness ruled at the North American box office as moviegoers came out in droves to see Adam Sandler and Jack Nicholson duke it out at their local multiplex in the new comedy Anger Management which opened triumphantly at number one. Most holdovers were crushed suffering massive declines in the current one-picture marketplace.

Anger Management debuted with an amazing $42.2M, according to final studio figures, over the Friday-to-Sunday period grossing more than the next eleven films combined. The Sony release generated the biggest premiere of the year outdistancing February's $40.3M bow for Daredevil, and smashed the April opening weekend record set last year by The Scorpion King's $36.1M launch. Directed by Peter Segal (Nutty Professor II, Tommy Boy), the PG-13 comedy also set a new career opening record for Sandler edging out 1999's Big Daddy which bowed to $41.5M.

The studio launched Anger Management in a mammoth 3,551 theaters and averaged a raging $11,890 per theater. Although its presence put a damper on all competitors, the Sony hit did manage to bring ticket buyers back into the theaters after several sluggish spring weeks where grosses were down when compared to last year. The film's starpower, the studio's massive marketing and distribution push, and the current menu of lackluster product all contributed to Anger's robust opening weekend performance. For the film industry, the powerful bow could not have come at a better time as it brought millions of moviegoers back into the multiplexes just as studios are trying to promote their big-ticket summer blockbusters with theatrical trailers and posters.

As with most Sandler pics, critics were not kind to Anger Management. Moviegoers were not too thrilled either as the comedy earned a discouraging C+ grade by those polled by CinemaScore.com. However, with no potential blockbusters on the horizon until X2 on May 2nd, Anger Management should have no trouble becoming Sandler's fourth $100M smash. Plus it will allow Nicholson to join Harrison Ford to become the only stars to have $100M grossers in each of four consecutive decades.

After its solid top spot debut, Fox's Phone Booth lost nearly half of its audience and dropped 49% to second place grossing $7.6M. The $16M Joel Schumacher thriller has taken in $26.7M in ten days and has a final tally of around $45M in its crosshairs.

Warner Bros. witnessed a slightly better hold for its sophomore pic, the teen chick flick What A Girl Wants, which slid 45% to $6.3M giving it a ten-day cume of $20M. Budgeted at just over $20M, the Amanda Bynes comedy should finish its search with about $40M.

The comedy blockbuster Bringing Down the House rose one spot to fourth place but was off 46% with $4.5M giving the Buena Vista release a total of $117.6M. New Line's Vin Diesel vehicle A Man Apart suffered one of the worst erosions in the top ten tumbing 60% to $4.5M in its second weekend. With $18.3M captured in ten days, the actioner should conclude with $27-29M. The DreamWorks comedy Head of State grossed $4M, off 54%, and raised its cume to $30.9M after 17 days.

Rocker Rob Zombie finally got to see his much-delayed horror film House of 1000 Corpses hit theaters with a seventh-place opening of $3.5M from a subdued national release in 595 locations. Adopted by Lions Gate after being abandoned by Universal, the R-rated gorefest posted the second-best average among non-Imax wide releases taking in $5,816 per site.

Paramount's The Core sunk another 47% to $3.3M for a $25.8M sum. The Miramax musical Chicago dipped 37% to $3.2M putting the blockbuster cume at $156.9M. John Travolta's Basic rounded out the top ten with $2.1M, down 61%, bringing the total for the Sony title to $23.7M.

There was plenty of activity in the limited-release world over the weekend. The Asian-American high school dramedy Better Luck Tomorrow set fire to the box office charts by grossing $360,772 from only 13 theaters for a scorching $27,751 average. Acquired by MTV Films at Sundance 2002 and released by Viacom sibling Paramount Classics, the R-rated tale about overachieving teens graduating to lives of crime will expand to 12-15 new markets this Friday in hopes of shooting into the Top 20.

The Bollywood spy thriller The Hero opened in 21 theaters and grossed $130,200 for a solid $6,200 average. Released by Video Sound, the Hindi-language action-adventure film stars Sunny Deol and former Miss World Priyanka Chopra.

Fox Searchlight continued to see encouraging results from its two arthouse offerings. The British-Indian soccer comedy Bend It Like Beckham expanded again by 99 theaters and grossed $1.4M from 216 engagements for a sturdy $6,369 average. Up 18% from last weekend, the Gurinder Chadha film has boosted its cume to $4.3M and widens to about 340 locations next weekend. Meanwhile, the distrib's Nick Nolte pic The Good Thief expanded from nine to 61 venues and grossed $366,278 for a $6,004 average.

A pair of younger-skewing films fell from the top ten this weekend. MGM's spy kid adventure Agent Cody Banks dropped 53% to $1.7M in its fifth mission. With $42.5M in the bank, the Frankie Muniz actioner looks to reach $45-47M. Meanwhile Disney's animated tale Piglet's Big Movie fell 49% to $1.4M. The G-rated toon has grossed $19M to date and is likely to hit $22M before jumping to video shelves.

The top ten films grossed an estimated $81.1M which was up 3% from last year when Changing Lanes opened at number one with $17.1M; and up 15% from 2001 when Spy Kids remained on top for the third weekend with $12.5M.

Compared to projections, Anger Management surged a few notches higher than my $38M forecast while House of 1000 Corpses was on target with my $3M prediction.

Take this week's NEW Reader Survey on whether The Matrix Reloaded or X-Men 2 will be the bigger hit. In last week's survey, readers were asked if Anger Management would open with at least $30M. Of 1,062 responses, 78% correctly guessed Yes while 22% thought No.

For reviews of House of 1000 Corpses and The Hero visit The Chief Report.

Be sure to check back on Thursday for a complete summary, including projections, for next weekend when Bulletproof Monk, Malibu's Most Wanted, Chasing Papi, and Holes all open.

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

# Title Apr 11 - 13 Apr 4 - 6 % Chg. Theaters Weeks AVG Cumulative Distributor
1 Anger Management $ 42,220,847 3,551 1 $ 11,890 $ 42,220,847 Sony
2 Phone Booth 7,618,519 15,021,088 -49.3 2,489 2 3,061 26,716,634 Fox
3 What A Girl Wants 6,287,478 11,434,964 -45.0 2,964 2 2,121 19,989,630 Warner Bros.
4 Bringing Down the House 4,502,225 8,316,696 -45.9 2,830 6 1,591 117,614,736 Buena Vista
5 A Man Apart 4,457,668 11,019,224 -59.5 2,495 2 1,787 18,276,063 New Line
6 Head of State 3,982,035 8,578,181 -53.6 2,256 3 1,765 30,935,561 DreamWorks
7 House of 1000 Corpses 3,460,666 595 1 5,816 3,460,666 Lions Gate
8 The Core 3,306,820 6,181,635 -46.5 3,019 3 1,095 25,755,993 Paramount
9 Chicago 3,207,797 5,103,406 -37.1 2,114 16 1,517 156,851,720 Miramax
10 Basic 2,103,440 5,375,721 -60.9 2,246 3 937 23,742,354 Sony
11 Agent Cody Banks 1,688,886 3,626,002 -53.4 2,007 5 841 42,546,899 MGM
12 Piglet's Big Movie 1,420,979 2,802,493 -49.3 1,859 4 764 18,974,376 Buena Vista
13 Ghosts of the Abyss (Lg. Scr) 1,408,474 97 1 14,520 1,408,474 Buena Vista
14 Bend It Like Beckham 1,375,767 1,170,139 17.6 216 5 6,369 4,278,587 Fox Searchlight
15 The Pianist 1,346,838 2,087,334 -35.5 842 16 1,600 28,570,917 Focus
16 Dreamcatcher 1,079,388 2,661,655 -59.4 1,401 4 770 32,143,699 Warner Bros.
17 The Hunted 670,405 1,855,035 -63.9 1,090 5 615 33,363,202 Paramount
18 Old School 493,623 1,355,620 -63.6 586 8 842 73,869,385 DreamWorks
19 Dysfunktional Family 463,379 1,079,797 -57.1 602 2 770 1,850,452 Miramax
20 How To Lose A Guy in 10 Days 460,667 882,245 -47.8 527 10 874 103,139,942 Paramount
Top 5 $ 65,086,737 $ 54,370,153 19.7
Top 10 81,147,495 77,459,410 4.8
Top 20 91,555,901 91,595,173 0.0
Top 20 vs. 2002 91,555,901 90,079,264 1.6

Last Updated : April 14, 2003 at 7:30PM EDT