Weekend Box Office (May 2 - 4, 2003)

THIS WEEKEND Mutants ruled the planet as the highly-anticipated comic book sequel X2: X-Men United opened with a mammoth explosion grossing $85.6M in North American theaters over the weekend, according to final studio figures, making it the fourth largest debut in box office history. Giving the summer movie season an early start, the Fox blockbuster debuted in a record 3,741 theaters and averaged a scorching $22,871 per venue. Directed by Bryan Singer (X-Men, The Usual Suspects), the PG-13 film reunited the cast of heroes and villains including Hugh Jackman, Halle Berry, Patrick Stewart, and Ian McKellen.

Fox also opened X2 in 93 international markets and grossed an additional $69.3M overseas making it a towering $154.9M global debut. After just a few days, the sequel has already grossed more than half of the $294M that X-Men collected worldwide in 2000. The global gross this weekend also surpassed the estimated $110M production budget of X2.

The domestic bow of X2 surged an amazing 57.1% higher than the $54.5M opening of X-Men from July 2000. The original installment averaged $18,007 from 3,025 theaters and went on to gross $157.3M domestically. The audience growth precisely matched that of another recent set of big-budget summer franchise pictures - Universal's The Mummy films. In May 1999, The Mummy opened to $43.4M and was followed two years later by The Mummy Returns which debuted to $68.1M for a 57.1% boost. For both franchises, the first films opened powerfully but expanded their fan bases throughout the theatrical and home video runs leading to a much larger audience excited enough to see the sequel on opening weekend.

X2's opening ranks fourth among all-time bows trailing Spider-Man ($114.8M), Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone ($90.3M), and Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets ($88.4M). For Fox, it was a new company record for three-day openings beating the $80M tally of last May's Star Wars Episode II. The studio's 3,741-theater launch set a new record edging out the 3,682 count that the second Harry Potter went out on.

Reviews were generally favorable for X2. Males made up 56% of the audience while those over 25 consisted of 52% of the crowd, according to Fox distribution president Bruce Snyder. Opening day sales on Friday amounted to a whopping $31.2M, according to Snyder, making it the third biggest opening day ever after Spider-Man ($39.4M) and the first Potter ($32.3M). Saturday sales inched up 2% to $32M which was a promising sign as sci-fi sequels with intensely loyal fans often see the biggest crowds on opening day and a small decline on Saturday. Sunday grosses dropped 30% to $22.3M.

X2 is expected to top the box office charts until the hugely-hyped debut of The Matrix Reloaded which opens on Thursday, May 15 with advance previews on Wednesday night, May 14. Marvel Comics, creators of the X-Men brand, will return to conquer the box office with the June 20 bow of The Hulk which Universal is releasing.

Moviegoers interested in non-mutant entertainment lined up to see Disney's The Lizzie McGuire Movie which generated a strong second-place bow with $17.3M. Averaging a solid $6,138 from 2,825 theaters, the $25M PG-rated comedy follows the popular Disney Channel character on a summer vacation in Rome. Young females made up the bulk of the audience and Lizzie's opening beat out those of similarly-targeted spring releases like What A Girl Wants ($11.4M) and Agent Cody Banks ($14.1M) which stars Lizzie star Hilary Duff.

Dropping from first to third place was Sony's suspense pic Identity which fell a moderate 42% to $9.4M in its sophomore frame to bring its ten-day cume to a solid $30.2M. The $28M thriller should find its way to $55-60M. Studio stablemate Anger Management declined 44% to $8.4M in its fourth weekend for a total to date of $115.3M. Look for a $135-140M finish.

With young people distracted by X2 and Lizzie McGuire, Disney's pre-teen drama Holes sunk 45% to $6.9M putting the PG-rated film in fifth place. With a robust $45.4M in 17 days, the detention camp pic should be able to reach $60-65M. Teen comedy Malibu's Most Wanted fell 45% to $4M pushing its sum to $28.9M. A $35-40M final tally seems likely for the Warner Bros. release.

Sophomore adult-skewing films Confidence and It Runs in the Family both dropped over 40% to weekend takes of $2.5M and $1.6M, respectively. Lions Gate's $15M pic has grossed $8.5M in ten days while MGM's Michael Douglas film has collected only $5.2M. Confidence should reach roughly $15M while Family could end with about $9M.

In ninth place was the MGM actioner Bulletproof Monk with $1.47M and a $21.6M cume. Its steep 67% decline was by far the largest in the top ten. Look for Monk to finish with less than $25M.

Jumping into the top ten for the first time was the British-Indian hit comedy Bend It Like Beckham which also grossed $1.47M in its eighth weekend of limited release. Fox Searchlight added 62 locations boosting the theater total to 483 and averaged a solid $3,044 per site. With $11M taken in thus far, and surrounding titles fading fast, Beckham will continue to expand and could remain in the top ten for a couple of more weeks.

Enjoying a solid debut in limited release was John Malkovich's directorial debut The Dancer Upstairs which opened with $106,142 from thirteen venues for a per-theater average of $8,164.

Three films fell from the top ten over the weekend. Fox's sniper flick Phone Booth tumbled 51% in its fifth frame to $1.465M giving the Colin Farrell actioner $42.5M to date. The $16M production should conclude with around $45M. Warner Bros. watched What A Girl Wants tumble 64% to $1.2M for a $34.5M sum. Produced for just over $20M, the teen comedy looks to end with approximately $37M. Stumbling 71% in its sophomore weekend, New Line's reality film The Real Cancun grossed $612,495 and lifted its disappointing ten-day cume to $3.3M. The $8M non-fiction experiment should end with less than $5M.

The top ten films grossed $138.8M which was down 7% from last year when Spider-Man opened at number one with a record-shattering $114.8M; but up 43% from 2001 when The Mummy Returns debuted in the top spot with $68.1M.

Compared to projections, X2 was right on target with my $85M forecast, however The Lizzie McGuire Movie opened stronger than my $12M prediction.

Take this week's NEW Reader Survey on the opening of The Matrix Reloaded. In last week's survey, readers were whether X2 would open with at least $80M. Of 1,747 responses, 64% correctly guessed Yes while 36% thought No.

For a review of X2 visit The Chief Report.

Be sure to check back on Thursday for a complete summary, including projections, for next weekend when Daddy Day Care opens.

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

# Title May 2 - 4 Apr 25 - 27 % Chg. Theaters Weeks AVG Cumulative Distributor
1 X2: X-Men United $ 85,558,731 3,741 1 $ 22,871 $ 85,558,731 Fox
2 The Lizzie McGuire Movie 17,338,755 2,825 1 6,138 17,338,755 Buena Vista
3 Identity 9,423,662 16,225,263 -41.9 2,733 2 3,448 30,187,230 Sony
4 Anger Management 8,406,604 15,006,174 -44.0 3,471 4 2,422 115,285,383 Sony
5 Holes 6,915,418 12,552,722 -44.9 2,402 3 2,879 45,366,777 Buena Vista
6 Malibu's Most Wanted 4,023,235 7,337,473 -45.2 2,340 3 1,719 28,948,620 Warner Bros.
7 Confidence 2,530,868 4,563,588 -44.5 1,871 2 1,353 8,495,774 Lions Gate
8 It Runs in the Family 1,645,115 2,804,441 -41.3 1,207 2 1,363 5,227,195 MGM
9 Bulletproof Monk 1,474,624 4,402,635 -66.5 1,894 3 779 21,581,881 MGM
10 Bend It Like Beckham 1,470,396 1,539,366 -4.5 483 8 3,044 10,966,353 Fox Searchlight
11 Phone Booth 1,465,022 3,007,474 -51.3 1,196 5 1,225 42,534,538 Fox
12 What A Girl Wants 1,172,445 3,235,190 -63.8 1,720 5 682 34,515,620 Warner Bros.
13 Bringing Down the House 1,126,682 2,068,521 -45.5 1,113 9 1,012 127,633,098 Buena Vista
14 A Mighty Wind 1,032,336 1,363,232 -24.3 157 3 6,575 6,161,665 Warner Bros.
15 Chicago 978,205 1,584,015 -38.2 825 19 1,186 165,016,127 Miramax
16 House of 1000 Corpses 721,771 1,478,398 -51.2 623 4 1,159 10,797,981 Lions Gate
17 Ghosts of the Abyss (Lg. Scr) 703,514 1,013,200 -30.6 97 4 7,253 6,440,941 Buena Vista
18 The Real Cancun 612,495 2,108,796 -71.0 2,261 2 271 3,343,166 New Line
19 Better Luck Tomorrow 506,661 1,031,460 -50.9 387 4 1,309 3,045,024 Paramount Classics
20 Agent Cody Banks 418,029 779,089 -46.3 1,404 8 298 46,791,516 MGM
Top 5 $ 127,643,170 $ 55,685,220 129.2
Top 10 138,787,408 71,243,756 94.8
Top 20 147,524,568 84,645,491 74.3
Top 20 vs. 2002 147,524,568 157,767,180 -6.5

Last Updated : May 5, 2003 at 7:00PM EDT