Weekend Box Office (May 24 - 27, 2002)

THIS WEEKEND Moviegoers once again made Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones the most popular film at the box office over the four-day Memorial Day holiday weekend. Spider-Man remained in second place and continued to set new industry records while a trio of solid openings from new releases rounded out the top five. Overall, ticket buyers spent $200M at North American multiplexes making it the highest-grossing weekend in box office history.

Taking in $60M in its second weekend, according to final studio figures, Episode II kept its crown averaging a stunning $18,983 from 3,161 theaters over the Friday-to-Monday period. Over the traditional three-day span, Clones grossed $47.5M dropping 41% from the previous weekend's $80M haul and brought its 12-day total to $201.3M. That made the Jedi adventure the second-fastest film to cross the $200M mark after Spider-Man which only took nine days earlier this month.

Despite the Jabba-size grosses, Episode II fell short of the figures posted three years ago by Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace which also had the benefit of having the Memorial Day weekend fall on its second frame. That prequel generated $66.9M over the holiday frame for a slimmer 21% three-day decline. By Memorial Day, after 13 days of release, Phantom Menace had grossed $207.1M - nearly the same amount as Episode II coming out of the holiday frame. While Episode II enjoyed stronger daily grosses than Episode I during its opening weekend, it has consistently trailed Phantom Menace's daily figures each day since last Monday. This comes despite the fact that Clones is playing in more theaters and enjoys higher ticket prices.

Fox's daily grosses for Attack of the Clones include $12.7M on Friday (down 6% from Phantom Menace's corresponding Friday), $18.45M on Saturday (off 5%), $16.35M on Sunday (down 12%), and $12.5M on Monday (off 19%). Episode II now sits at number 42 on the list of all-time domestic blockbusters a notch below Armageddon ($201.6M). Overseas, Clones has set the box office on fire hoisting its total to $128.9M in less than two weeks bringing its worldwide cume to $330M.

Unlike Episode I, which arrived on the scene with 16 years of fan anticipation, Episode II is performing more like a high-profile sequel - opening bigger, but depreciating faster. Budgeted at an estimated $120M, Attack of the Clones may find its domestic haul reach $350-380M.

Climbing to new heights in a record 3,876 theaters, Sony's megablockbuster Spider-Man took home another $35.8M over the four-day holiday span to remain in second place. The Sam Raimi-directed super hero pic averaged $9,240 and boosted its total to a staggering $333.6M in only 25 days putting it at number six on the all-time list of domestic blockbusters between 1993's Jurassic Park ($357.1M) and 1994's Forrest Gump ($329.7M). On Friday, its 22nd day of release, Spider-Man became the fastest movie in history to reach the $300M mark shattering the old benchmark of 28 days set in 1999 by Star Wars Episode I.

Sony shuffled numerous prints around this weekend moving extra ones from multiple-auditorium venues over to new theaters allowing the playdate total to climb from 3,615 to 3,876 while still keeping the overall print count at approximately 7,500. Over the Friday-to-Sunday span, Spider-Man grossed $28.5M (down 37% from last weekend) and averaged $7,353. The three-day figure stands as the second-best fourth weekend gross in box office history trailing Titanic's $28.7M from 2,746 theaters in January 1998. With its continued strength, Spider-Man will have no problem smashing through the $400M barrier and could find its way into the neighborhood of $450M domestically. Internationally, the webslinger crossed the century mark over the weekend and continues to post muscular bows.

Oscar winner Al Pacino enjoyed the biggest opening of his career with the psychological thriller Insomnia, also starring Robin Williams, which opened with $26.1M over the Friday-to-Monday holiday frame. Directed by Memento's Christopher Nolan, the R-rated drama entered 2,610 theaters and averaged a terrific $9,988 over four days. The Warner Bros. release finds Pacino playing a Los Angeles detective assigned to a murder investigation in northern Alaska whose sleep deprivation due to the round-the-clock sun affects his ability capture the killer, played by Williams. Praised by critics, the $46M thriller played to an adult audience and earned a good B grade from audiences polled by CinemaScore.com.

With Jedi knights and comic book heroes dominating the holiday box office, Insomnia stood as the top counter-programming alternative by appealing to mature adults with a high-caliber cast. Long-term prospects seem promising which would be a welcome change for the studio as recent films like Showtime, Collateral Damage, and Queen of the Damned all opened decently but eroded fast. After winning the market share crown last year, Warner Bros. now ranks last among the big six studios in year-to-date grosses but hopes to change the tide with Insomnia and next month's summer releases Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood and Scooby Doo.

Charging into fourth place with a strong start was the new animated film from DreamWorks Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron which opened with $23.2M over the four-day session. The G-rated adventure tale about a brave horse battling pioneers in the Old West galloped into a whopping 3,317 theaters and averaged an impressive $6,998. Over the three-day period, the $80M film grossed $17.7M and averaged $5,336.

The traditionally-animated drama took advantage of the lack of family films at the holiday box office and performed especially well with young girls as Star Wars and Spider-Man kept boys distracted. Families made up 80% of the audience according to Jim Tharp, distribution head of DreamWorks, and 90% of those polled rated the film "excellent" or "very good." Ticket buyers polled by CinemaScore.com gave Spirit an overall A grade with kids bestowing a promising A+. The studio had an uphill battle in bringing the ambitious toon to the marketplace as the most successful animated pictures in recent years have been computer-animated comedies. With good reviews and positive word-of-mouth, Spirit will try to become the first traditionally-drawn animated film to break the $100M mark since 1999's Tarzan.

Jennifer Lopez packed a punch in fifth place with her new domestic thriller Enough which debuted with $17.2M over the long holiday weekend. Playing in 2,623 locations, the PG-13 drama about a woman who takes revenge on her abusive husband averaged $6,562 per theater and performed best with young women. Sony's exit polling showed that 60% of the audience was female and 55% were under 25 indicating that the film connected with J. Lo's core fan base of teen girls and young women. Over the Friday-to-Sunday period, the Michael Apted-directed film grossed $14M and averaged a solid $5,337.

Budgeted at $38M, Enough also scored good exit polls. CinemaScore.com patrons gave the film an overall A- grade with females in particular giving it an A while studio data showed that over 90% of those polled rated the thriller "excellent" or "very good." The opening for Enough was in line with the debuts of other recent films starring Lopez including last year's The Wedding Planner ($13.5M) and 2000's The Cell ($17.5M).

Universal added 542 theaters to the run of the Hugh Grant comedy About A Boy and grossed $9.8M from 1,749 theaters for a four-day average of $5,615. The three-day gross of $7.9M represented a slim 8% decline from last weekend while the three-day average of $4,490 dropped 37% from the previous frame. After 11 days, About A Boy has taken in $21.8M and looks headed for $40-50M territory.

With such a diverse slate of films, the incredible breadth in the marketplace led to a major expansion with total box office spending over the four days reaching $200M. Five films grossed over $10M and averaged more than $5,000 each. Last year's Memorial Day weekend frame only boasted three such performers.

In its third weekend, Fox's erotic thriller Unfaithful collected $7.6M pushing its 18-day total to $41M. The teen comedy The New Guy followed in eighth place with $5.4M lifting the cume for the Sony release to $24.4M in the same number of days.

Paramount's Changing Lanes, the oldest picture in the top ten, took in $1.9M for a $64.4M total after its seventh weekend. The Scorpion King rounded out the top ten with $1.8M in its sixth attack boosting the cume for the Universal film to $87.9M.

IFC Films continued to supply the independent films of choice with My Big Fat Greek Wedding and Y Tu Mama Tambien. Wedding grossed $1.6M from just 260 theaters, averaging $6,116, and brought its cume to $7.6M. Mama picked up $620,633 from 216 ($2,873 average) putting its total after 11 weekends at $11.1M.

In limited release, Miramax debuted the ensemble picture The Importance of Being Earnest in 38 theaters and grossed $500,447 for a strong $13,170 average. Total since its Wednesday debut is $521,858.

The top ten films grossed $188.9M over four days which was up 8% from last year when Pearl Harbor opened at number one with $75.2M over the long weekend; and up 12% from 2000 when Mission: Impossible 2 debuted in the top spot with $70.8M over four days.

Compared to projections, Insomnia opened stronger than my $19M forecast while Enough debuted a bit below my $21M prediction. Spirit bowed higher than my $17M projection.

Take this week's NEW Reader Survey on the opening of The Sum of All Fears. In last week's survey, readers were asked whether Star Wars Episode II or Spider-Man would become the bigger megablockbuster. Of 4,324 responses, 56% said Star Wars while 44% picked Spider-Man.

For a review of Star Wars Episode II visit The Chief Report.

Be sure to check back on Thursday for a complete summary, including projections, for next weekend when The Sum of All Fears and Undercover Brother both open.

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

# Title May 24 - 27 May 17 - 19 % Chg. Theaters Weeks AVG Cumulative Distributor
1 Star Wars Episode II $ 60,003,949 $ 80,027,814 -25.0 3,161 2 $ 18,983 $ 201,309,716 Fox
2 Spider-Man 35,814,844 45,036,912 -20.5 3,876 4 9,240 333,641,492 Sony
3 Insomnia 26,068,419 2,610 1 9,988 26,068,419 Warner Bros.
4 Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron 23,213,736 3,317 1 6,998 23,213,736 DreamWorks
5 Enough 17,213,137 2,623 1 6,562 17,213,137 Sony
6 About A Boy 9,821,030 8,557,630 14.8 1,749 2 5,615 21,752,225 Universal
7 Unfaithful 7,554,263 10,013,104 -24.6 2,401 3 3,146 40,996,564 Fox
8 The New Guy 5,426,096 6,478,078 -16.2 2,374 3 2,286 24,388,438 Sony
9 Changing Lanes 1,909,290 3,106,537 -38.5 1,258 7 1,518 64,448,728 Paramount
10 The Scorpion King 1,843,965 2,912,675 -36.7 1,524 6 1,210 87,916,715 Universal
11 My Big Fat Greek Wedding 1,590,085 1,135,207 40.1 260 5 6,116 7,642,884 IFC Films
12 The Rookie 985,328 1,727,205 -43.0 836 8 1,179 71,979,611 Buena Vista
13 Space Station 784,947 45 6 17,443 5,140,956 Imax
14 Y Tu Mama Tambien 620,633 597,585 3.9 216 10 2,873 11,127,375 IFC Films
15 Monsters, Inc. 568,863 44,509 289 30 1,968 253,763,957 Buena Vista
16 Murder By Numbers 526,570 1,672,454 -68.5 752 5 700 31,046,134 Warner Bros.
17 Ice Age 505,807 1,057,726 -52.2 594 10 852 173,149,613 Fox
18 The Importance of Being Earnest 500,447 38 1 13,170 521,858 Miramax
19 Monsoon Wedding 482,837 460,546 4.8 193 13 2,502 11,127,662 USA Films
20 The Lord of the Rings 443,814 411,515 7.8 335 22 1,325 310,714,976 New Line
Top 5 $ 162,314,085 $ 150,113,538 8.1
Top 10 188,868,729 160,667,616 17.6
Top 20 195,878,060 166,512,815 17.6
Top 20 vs. 2001 195,878,060 181,284,145 8.1

Last Updated : May 29, 2002 at 2:00AM EDT