Weekend Box Office (May 11 - 13, 2001)

*** NEW Summer Box Office Preview ***

THIS WEEKEND The big-budget adventure tale The Mummy Returns remained the top choice among North American moviegoers in its second weekend while the medieval jousting film A Knight's Tale delivered a strong showing in second place. Together, the two pictures accounted for a remarkable 72% of all ticket sales for the top ten films as older spring titles continued to fade away.

For the second consecutive weekend, Universal led the box office with its blockbuster sequel The Mummy Returns which grossed $33.7M over the Friday-to-Sunday period, according to final studio figures. The haul was $1.5M better than originally estimated and gave the Stephen Sommers-directed picture a drop of 51% from its record bow. Though a large decline, the drop was understandable given that the PG-13 film is a sequel coming off of a mammoth opening frame. By comparison, the blockbuster Hannibal fell 49% in its second weekend in February while 1999's The Mummy dropped 43% in its sophomore session. The Mummy Returns crossed the $100M mark on Saturday, its ninth day of release, and reached a ten-day cume of $118M. Produced for $98M, the Brendan Fraser film might find its way to a domestic haul of $170-190M.

Premiering in second place was Sony's period action film A Knight's Tale with a weekend take of $16.5M. Playing in 2,980 theaters, the Brian Helgeland-directed picture averaged a good $5,541 per venue. A Knight's Tale stars Australian heartthrob Heath Ledger as a lowly 14th century squire who enters a jousting competition and fights for the love of a fair maiden. The movie breaks conventions by mixing historical battle sequences with modern rock music. Produced for $41M, the PG-13 film is one of the least expensive action movies of the summer and should become a profitable picture for its studio.

Young women gave the film the most support as demographic research indicated that the audience was 55% female and 60% under 25, according to Sony's marketing and distribution chief Jeff Blake. Exit polls were strong as the film scored a B+ overall and an A grade with those under 21. "The picture is fresh and different and the buzz is good so it should hold up against the big blockbusters," said Blake.

This year's month of May is extraordinarily light on new product. The Mummy Returns and A Knight's Tale each opened unopposed in their debut frames and only three other wide releases are scheduled for the month - the animated comedy Shrek and the adult thriller Angel Eyes next weekend and the epic action-romance Pearl Harbor over the Memorial Day holiday frame. The void leaves the existing films more room to breathe and could prolong the legs of spring's more popular titles. Distributors may have left the month open to avoid the anticipated blockbusters Mummy and Pearl Harbor and instead chose to release product in April or later in the summer. The last time May was this light on new wide releases was in 1990 (when the calendar resembled this year's) as Hollywood offered just five pictures over four weekends - Tales From the Darkside, Bird on a Wire, Cadillac Man, Back to the Future III, and Fire Birds.

Spring leftovers filled up the remainder of the top ten. The romantic comedy Bridget Jones's Diary stayed put in third place with $4.5M in its fifth weekend. Miramax's hit film has displayed some of the best legs among the season's releases and slipped only 22% which brought its cume to a solid $51M.

Paramount's thriller Along Came A Spider placed fourth with $3.1M for a $64.2M total after its sixth weekend. Warner Bros. once again saw its auto racing film Driven decelerate a hefty 49% in its third lap to $3M. The Sylvester Stallone action picture pushed its cume to $26.1M.

Spy Kids, the top ten's eldest statesman, placed sixth with $2.7M allowing the Miramax adventure film to reach blockbuster territory with a cume to date of $101.7M. The effects-driven family film is the highest-grossing picture for both director Robert Rodriguez and star Antonio Banderas and already has a sequel in development.

Sliding 31% to $2.2M in its fourth weekend was Paramount's Crocodile Dundee in Los Angeles which has grossed $20.7M to date. Right behind in eighth place was Johnny Depp's drug saga Blow with $1.9M for a $47.1M total.

Two films playing in semi-national release made their first appearances in the top ten after weeks of solid runs in selected markets. The dark revenge thriller Memento grossed $1.2M from 445 theaters. Averaging $2,734 per location, the Newmarket Films release has steadily been adding playdates over the past eight weeks and has generated a terrific $10.2M total from limited play. Memento stars Guy Pierce as a man suffering short-term memory loss trying to track down his wife's killer.

Finding its way to the number ten position was Sony's The Tailor of Panama which in its seventh weekend took in $817,311. The Geoffrey Rush-Pierce Brosnan spy picture screened in 441 venues and averaged $1,853 per site. Tailor's total to date stands at $10.5M.

Sony's family film The Trumpet of the Swan saw a dismal opening in limited release over the weekend. The distributor quietly opened the poorly-reviewed animated picture in 125 theaters and grossed $102,202. Telling the story of a boy who befriends a swan, Trumpet averaged a poor $818 per site and features the voices of Jason Alexander, Reese Witherspoon, and Carol Burnett.

A trio of critically-panned April releases tumbled out of the top ten over the weekend. The David Spade comedy Joe Dirt fell 49% to $752,845 lifting its sum to $25.8M. Produced for $16M, the Sony release should finish with $27-29M. New Line's $80M Warren Beatty vehicle Town & Country and Sony's low-budget horror flick The Forsaken each saw more than half of its audience disappear and reached 17-day cumes of just $6.3M each. Look for the movies to conclude with embarrassing finals of about $7M.

Compared to projections, A Knight's Tale opened a couple of notches below my $20M forecast.

The top ten films grossed $69.5M which was up a scant 3% from last year when Gladiator stayed in the top spot with $24.6M; and up 18% from 1999 when The Mummy remained at number one with $24.9M.

Take this week's NEW Reader Survey on whether Universal should make a third Mummy film. In last week's survey, readers were asked which of three recent hits they most wanted to see a sequel to. Of 2,652 responses, 47% voted for Charlie's Angels, 34% picked Hannibal, while 19% said Spy Kids.

Read the NEW Summer 2001 Box Office Preview which looks at the exciting season of blockbuster films ahead.

Read the Weekly Rewind column which reports on the smallest opening weekends of the year thus far. For reviews of A Knight's Tale and The Mummy Returns visit The Chief Report.

Be sure to check back on Thursday for a complete summary, including projections, for next weekend when Shrek and Angel Eyes both open.

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

# Title May 11 - 13 May 4 - 6 % Chg. Theaters Weeks AVG Cumulative Dist.
1 The Mummy Returns $ 33,741,755 $ 68,139,035 -50.5 3,410 2 $ 9,895 $ 118,035,540 Universal
2 A Knight's Tale 16,511,391 2,980 1 5,541 16,511,391 Sony
3 Bridget Jones's Diary 4,458,144 5,730,131 -22.2 2,506 5 1,779 50,984,229 Miramax
4 Along Came a Spider 3,073,656 3,762,266 -18.3 2,480 6 1,239 64,192,254 Paramount
5 Driven 3,047,384 6,002,516 -49.2 2,804 3 1,087 26,131,638 Warner Bros.
6 Spy Kids 2,664,462 3,812,829 -30.1 2,599 7 1,025 101,688,272 Miramax
7 Crocodile Dundee in LA 2,157,568 3,108,663 -30.6 2,166 4 996 20,705,597 Paramount
8 Blow 1,858,462 2,447,638 -24.1 1,502 6 1,237 47,146,148 New Line
9 Memento 1,216,643 1,233,751 -1.4 445 9 2,734 10,192,320 Newmarket
10 The Tailor of Panama 817,311 966,407 -15.4 441 7 1,853 10,518,714 Sony
11 Kingdom Come 766,030 1,155,869 -33.7 749 5 1,023 21,477,170 Fox Searchlight
12 Joe Dirt 752,845 1,475,282 -49.0 1,314 5 573 25,790,852 Sony
13 Chocolat 750,548 186,467 302.5 1,487 22 505 69,934,220 Miramax
14 Town and Country 555,607 1,333,504 -58.3 1,133 3 490 6,275,248 New Line
15 The Forsaken 527,365 1,406,246 -62.5 1,135 3 465 6,258,942 Sony
16 One Night at McCools's 506,926 1,283,322 -60.5 877 3 578 5,689,784 USA Films
17 Enemy at the Gates 503,267 661,030 -23.9 785 9 641 49,984,985 Paramount
18 Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon 481,194 584,302 -17.6 539 23 893 125,460,041 Sony Classics
19 Traffic 407,950 361,828 12.7 463 20 881 122,558,754 USA Films
20 Freddy Got Fingered 390,034 985,220 -60.4 771 4 506 13,748,199 Fox
Top 5 $ 60,832,330 $ 87,446,777 -30.4
Top 10 69,546,776 97,218,110 -28.5
Top 20 75,188,542 105,389,080 -28.7
Top 20 vs. 2000 75,188,542 80,102,173 -6.1

Last Updated : May 14, 2001 at 8:30PM EDT