Weekend Box Office (April 30 - May 2, 1999)

THIS WEEKEND Breaking and entering into the number one spot, Sean Connery and Catherine Zeta-Jones made off with an impressive $20.1M, according to final studio figures, for their new action thriller Entrapment. Selling about as many tickets as the next four movies combined, Fox's continent-hopping caper pic infiltrated 2,815 secured locations and delivered a solid $7,157 average per theater. Directed by Jon Amiel (Copycat), Entrapment features Zeta-Jones as an investigator assigned to capture a veteran art thief, played by Connery. The film generated the fourth biggest opening of the year, behind The Matrix ($27.8M), Payback ($21.2M), and Life ($20.4M).

For Connery, Entrapment gave the Oscar-winning actor one of the strongest debuts of his career. The former James Bond saw his last big hit three years ago in the action blockbuster The Rock which launched with $25.1M in June 1996. Zeta-Jones, in the first of what should be many above-the-title roles, grabbed the attention of movie fans last summer in The Mask of Zorro which bowed with $22.5M in July. The sex appeal of both stars was a major contributor to Entrapment's top spot debut this weekend as were a strong marketing push, mild competition, and very wide distribution.

The strong start by Entrapment came as good news to its studio as Fox has not seen an opening this big since Doctor Dolittle. So far it's been a disappointing end to the twentieth century for Fox as movies like Office Space, Simply Irresistible, Ravenous, Wing Commander, and Pushing Tin have all sunk at the box office. But the studio (ranked eighth among distributors for the year) is counting on Entrapment and The Phantom Menace to turn things around as it hopes to steal the market share crown from Warner Bros. later this summer.

The Matrix was still tabulating strong sales in its fifth frame picking up $8.7M. Down 31%, the sci-fi cash machine has elevated its cume to a powerful $129.7M and has quickly become the highest-grossing Keanu Reeves movie surpassing Speed's domestic haul of $121M. A final domestic take in the vicinity of $165M is still very much likely for The Matrix making it the top-grossing Warner Bros. title of the last three years.

Locking up $6.5M in their third appeal, Eddie Murphy and Martin Lawrence saw their prison comedy Life push its 17-day total to $46.3M. However, just as in its second weekend, the decline of 42% was a bit hefty as the Universal release is not showing signs of longevity. A final sentence of around $60-65M seems emminent.

Drew Barrymore slipped a notch to fourth place with Never Been Kissed which collected $4.1M. Off 32%, the Fox film has bagged a respectable $36.5M to date. Analyze This laughed up $2.2M as it enjoyed its ninth frame in the top five. With $98.5M in the bank, the Warner Bros. comedy should cross the $100M mark sometime next weekend.

Moviegoers gave the finger to Sony's new teen entry Idle Hands as the comedic horror pic opened with a puny gross of only $1.8M. Playing in 1,611 locations, Hands averaged a poor $1,122 per theater. With a half dozen films aimed specifically at teens and young adults in the last two months, there clearly was no room for this poorly-reviewed title. Idle Hands also delivered the worst opening of any wide release debuting in 1,100 or more theaters this year. Buena Vista's high school tale Ten Things I Hate About You also grossed $1.8M raising its total to a solid $31.1M.

A pair of sophomores flunked out in their second tries with moviegoers. David Spade's Lost and Found, from Warner Bros. grossed $1.3M, down 59%, raising its cume to $5M in ten days. A final take of roughly $8M should appear. Crashing 65%, Fox's Pushing Tin took in just $1.25M and saw its ten-day total climb to a mere $5.8M. The John Cusack-Billy Bob Thornton picture should end its run with about $8-9M. Sony's edgy pic Go sped away with $1.2M putting its sum at $14.4M.

Two laughers slipped out of the top ten over the weekend. Paramount's comedy The Out-of-Towners, starring Steve Martin and Goldie Hawn, grossed $1.1M pushing the cume in its fifth weekend to $25M. The $40M update on the Neil Simon classic looks set to conclude with about $28M. Meanwhile, the DreamWorks romantic comedy Forces of Nature collected less than $1M in its seventh frame and lifted its total to $49.5M. Starring Sandra Bullock and Ben Affleck, the spring fling looks likely to reach around $53M making it a moderate hit. Miramax's Shakespeare in Love continues to inch closer to blockbuster status with a cume that now stands at $92.9M.

Despite the potent launch of Entrapment, the top ten films delivered the second-worst tally of the year. Seven of the top ten films posted averages of less than $2,000 per theater indicating that moviegoers are ready to put the spring behind them and are looking for those summer event films.

Paramount's critically-acclaimed comedy Election expanded into eight more cities after platforming last weekend in New York and Los Angeles. Starring Matthew Broderick and Reese Witherspoon, Election continued to sell out as it grossed $245,582 in only 14 sites for a brainy average of $17,542. After ten days of limited release, the high school satire has collected $419,087 and even saw sales increase in certain theaters this weekend. It opens nationwide on Friday.

The studio's new specialized division, Paramount Classics, unveiled its rookie release Get Real in six theaters grossing $54,254. The British teen story averaged a solid $9,042 per venue giving the new indie distribution arm a promising start. David Mamet's The Winslow Boy, released by Sony Pictures Classics, debuted with a superb $13,426 per site in six locations. October Films' Sundance winner Three Seasons captured $47,542 in just three houses for a powerful $15,847 per theater.

With Star Wars : Episode I set to blast into multiplexes in a couple of weeks, it's time for you, the reader, to voice your opinion on how the George Lucas epic will perform at the box office. Beginning May 1st, and continuing until the May 19th launch date of the film, the new Box Office Guru Reader Forum will publish reader comments on the box office potential of The Phantom Menace. Each day will bring new thoughts and opinions from readers from around the world bringing their own unique perspective.

What records will it set? How high can it go? How will it affect the industry? See what others have to say. Email your thoughts (250 words or less) on this topic today and include your name with city and country of residence. And check back each day to the Box Office Guru Reader Forum to see if your comments have been published. A new page full of reader quotes will be featured every day from May 1st until the big day, May 19th. And be sure to check back with Box Office Guru once the film opens for special daily coverage of its journey into the record books. May the Force be with you!

In other Episode I news, MTV will premiere the music video to the John Williams-composed theme song 'Duel of the Fates' on Monday, May 3rd, at 3:30PM EDT. The four-minute video features clips from The Phantom Menace and will then air on sister network VH1 at 6PM that evening.

Compared to projections, Entrapment came in below my optimistic $28M forecast. Idle Hands debuted even lower than my pessimistic prediction of $4M. The Matrix and Life both came very close to my projections of $8M and $6M respectively.

Take this week's NEW Reader Survey on violence in movies. In last week's survey, readers were asked whether Entrapment would open with at least $25M. Of 1,910 responses, 64% said no while 36% voted yes.

Be sure to read the Weekly Rewind column which reports on Sean Connery's films from the 1990's. This Wednesday's new column looks at the top opening weekends in the month of May.

The top ten films grossed $48.9M which was up 7% from last year when He Got Game opened at number one with $7.6M, but down 16% from 1997 when Breakdown and Austin Powers both scored solid premieres.

Be sure to check back on Thursday for a complete summary, including projections, for next weekend when The Mummy is unleashed.

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

Below are final studio figures for the weekend. Click on the title to jump to its official home page:

# Title Apr 30 - May 2 Apr 23 - 25 % Chg. Theaters Weeks AVG Cumulative Dist.
1 Entrapment $ 20,145,595 2,815 1 $ 7,157 $ 20,145,595 Fox
2 The Matrix 8,715,866 12,642,717 -31.1 2,903 5 3,002 129,715,015 Warner Bros.
3 Life 6,481,175 11,257,995 -42.4 2,613 3 2,480 46,260,375 Universal
4 Never Been Kissed 4,072,477 6,014,493 -32.3 2,481 4 1,641 36,500,423 Fox
5 Analyze This 2,175,397 3,107,637 -30.0 2,128 9 1,022 98,465,052 Warner Bros.
6 Ten Things I Hate ... 1,811,809 2,717,023 -33.3 2,020 5 897 31,135,950 BV
7 Idle Hands 1,807,181 1,611 1 1,122 1,807,181 Sony
8 Lost and Found 1,254,596 3,024,709 -58.5 2,469 2 508 5,007,058 Warner Bros.
9 Pushing Tin 1,250,045 3,555,032 -64.8 1,284 2 974 5,846,057 Fox
10 Go 1,152,271 2,020,829 -43.0 1,419 4 812 14,387,714 Sony
11 The Out-of-Towners 1,104,467 2,017,725 -45.3 1,850 4 597 24,974,548 Paramount
12 Cookie's Fortune 1,001,113 1,306,479 -23.4 559 4 1,791 6,557,987 October
13 Forces of Nature 875,144 1,624,689 -46.1 1,508 6 580 49,484,419 DreamWorks
14 Life is Beautiful 831,732 1,222,901 -32.0 914 27 910 53,072,604 Miramax
15 Shakespeare in Love 825,962 1,256,967 -34.3 1,017 20 812 92,887,782 Miramax
16 A Walk on the Moon 512,589 605,887 -15.4 242 5 2,118 2,540,272 Miramax
17 Twin Dragons 495,436 894,557 -44.6 852 3 581 6,966,880 Miramax
18 Foolish 448,779 718,813 -37.6 381 3 1,178 4,744,212 Artisan
19 Doug's First Movie 419,110 781,823 -46.4 1,054 5 398 17,513,937 BV
20 Baby Geniuses 388,303 626,325 -38.0 939 7 414 24,118,484 Sony
Top 5 $ 41,590,510 $ 36,577,874 13.7
Top 10 48,866,412 47,982,849 1.8
Top 20 55,769,047 56,721,143 -1.7

    This column is updated three times each week : Thursday (upcoming weekend's summary), Sunday (post-weekend analysis with estimates), and Monday night (actuals). Source : EDI, Exhibitor Relations. Opinions expressed in this column are those solely of the author.

Last Updated : May 3, 1999 at 10:00PM ESTHome

Written by Gitesh Pandya