Weekend Box Office (May 26 - 29, 2000)

THIS WEEKEND Led by the explosive opening of Mission: Impossible 2, overall ticket sales shattered the previous Memorial Day weekend record set in 1997 as the top ten films grossed over $168M during the Friday-to-Monday frame. Popular holdovers like Dinosaur and Gladiator remained muscular while new entry Shanghai Noon had an impressive debut creating incredible breadth in the marketplace.

Tom Cruise was the top gun at the box office over Memorial Day weekend as his action sequel Mission: Impossible 2 collected a deafening $70.8M, according to final studio figures, over the four-day span. It was the second biggest opening ever for the holiday frame behind 1997's The Lost World which launched with $90.2M. However, the Jurassic Park sequel opened on a Friday whereas MI2 bowed on a Wednesday spreading its audience over a longer stretch of time. After six days of release, Paramount's much-hyped franchise picture has grossed a towering $91.8M and could reach the century mark in only eight days.

Delayed from its original December 1999 release date, Mission: Impossible 2 exploded in a record 3,653 theaters over the weekend and averaged a stunning $19,386 over the four-day period. Action specialist John Woo directed the second installment of the feature based loosely on the 1960s television series. Ving Rhames, Thandie Newton, and an unbilled Anthony Hopkins also star in MI2 which finds IMF agent Ethan Hunt and his team racing to prevent the spread of a biological weapon. The typically media-shy Cruise worked overtime to publicize the blockbuster, which he also produced, granting interviews to morning, daytime, and late night talk shows plus gracing the covers of Vanity Fair and Entertainment Weekly.

Paramount executives stated that the Friday-to-Sunday portion took in $57.85M making it the third largest opening weekend in history behind The Lost World ($72.1M) and Star Wars Episode I ($64.8M). MI2 also set new company and career bests for Paramount and Tom Cruise respectively beating the $56.8M Memorial Day weekend bow of 1996's original Mission: Impossible which held both records. That hit film grossed $74.9M over its six-day holiday opening (including Tuesday night previews) and climbed to $180.9M domestically and $465M worldwide. Combining big-budget action, stylish visual effects, unbelievable stunts, pulse-pounding theme music (the soundtrack debuted at number two on the Billboard charts), and a box office superstar in the lead, MI2 became an event film that holiday moviegoers eagerly chose to accept.

Retreating a notch to second place was Disney's computer-animated feature Dinosaur which consumed $32M over the holiday weekend giving it a mammoth $80.4M in only 11 days of release. Playing in 3,302 theaters, the PG-rated family film averaged a meaty $9,703. Powered by Dinosaur, Buena Vista reported that its year-to-date box office reached $400M over the weekend in the fastest time in company history.

With fists of fury, Jackie Chan punched his way into third place with a strong debut for Shanghai Noon which raked in $19.6M over the four-day weekend. Bowing in 2,711 locations, the Buena Vista release averaged a stellar $7,247. The action-comedy, set in the Old West, finds Chan as an Imperial Chinese guard on a mission to rescue a kidnapped princess. The studio made a bold move opening Shanghai Noon on the same weekend as the action blockbuster MI2 but came out a winner as the expanded holiday weekend allowed many worthy titles to co-exist. Sneak previews held last weekend also played a crucial role in getting audiences excited to see the film.

Long term prospects look promising with Buena Vista reporting that over 94% of patrons polled described the movie as "excellent" or "very good" and that Saturday sales jumped a hefty 48% over Friday. Chan's last American production was 1998's Rush Hour, another cross-cultural action-comedy, which opened with $33M and soared to $141.2M. With the success of Chan's Shanghai Noon, director John Woo's MI2 , and Jet Li's spring hit Romeo Must Die, Hong Kong's cinematic superstars have made North American moviegoers cheer this year.

Russell Crowe's historical adventure film Gladiator slipped to fourth place taking in $17.1M during the Friday-to-Monday span. The DreamWorks/Universal co-production still managed to attract the masses in its fourth weekend despite the arrivals of newcomers MI2 and Shanghai Noon. Gladiator has earned a muscular $127M to date, becoming the year's top grosser, and has dominated theaters around the world with a global cume of over $200M.

DreamWorks also claimed the number five spot with the college sex comedy Road Trip which pulled in $13.5M over the long weekend giving it an impressive $35.3M in 11 days. The Friday-to-Sunday portion was down a respectable 31% from its debut last weekend. Produced for $15M, Road Trip should eventually gross $60-70M.

Woody Allen's latest comic caper Small Time Crooks placed sixth with $3.9M in its second weekend and lifted its 11-day total to $8.9M. Playing in 870 theaters, the DreamWorks release averaged a solid $4,480 and could reach about $20M.

The time-shifting thriller Frequency followed with $3.6M raising its cume to $35.1M. Universal's submarine actioner U-571 took in $3.3M giving the underwater adventure $69M to date.

Center Stage collected $2.7M in its third weekend and has brought in $12.8M so far. Rounding out the top ten was Natalie Portman's teen motherhood pic Where the Heart Is with $1.9M for a sum of $28.5M.

Reviving Demi Moore's career became an impossible mission for Paramount Classics which released Passion of Mind, the first starring vehicle for the actress in nearly three years. The film about a woman leading two very different lives grossed $236,047 in 104 theaters for a poor $2,270 average.

A pair of big-budget disappointments fell out of the top ten over the weekend. Universal's franchise entry The Flintstones in Viva Rock Vegas grossed $1.7M upping its cume to $30.1M. The $58M production should finish off with just $32-35M, or less than one-third of the gross of the 1994 original.

Meanwhile, Warner Bros. witnessed rapid decay once again for John Travolta's sci-fi saga Battlefield Earth which spent only two weeks in the top ten and collected $1.1M this weekend, plunging 73%. With a pitiful $20.4M total, the $73M space adventure looks to sputter to a horrible $21-23M.

Compared to projections, Mission: Impossible 2 came extremely close to my $90M forecast for the six-day frame. Shanghai Noon surged above my prediction of $13M.

Take this week's NEW Reader Survey on the June release you want to see the most. In last week's survey, readers were asked if they thought Mission: Impossible 2 would become the summer's biggest blockbuster. Of 3,081 responses, 56% said yes while 44% voted no.

Be sure to read the Weekly Rewind column which looks at Tom Cruise's box office track record over the last decade. This Wednesday's new column will report on the top June openings. For reviews of MI2 and Dinosaur visit The Chief Report.

The top ten films over the four-day weekend grossed a record-shattering $168.5M which was up 30% from last year when Star Wars Episode I led the holiday frame with $66.9M, and up 40% from 1998's Memorial Day weekend when Godzilla opened at number one with $55M over the Friday-to-Monday span.

Be sure to check back on Thursday for a complete summary, including projections, for next weekend when Big Momma's House opens nationwide in over 2,800 theaters.

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

# Title May 26 - 29 May 19 - 21 % Chg. Theaters Weeks AVG Cumulative Dist.
1 Mission: Impossible 2 $ 70,816,215 3,653 1 $ 19,386 $ 91,819,054 Paramount
2 Dinosaur 32,038,631 38,854,851 -17.5 3,302 2 9,703 80,449,346 Buena Vista
3 Shanghai Noon 19,647,065 2,711 1 7,247 19,647,065 Buena Vista
4 Gladiator 17,064,503 19,749,273 -13.6 3,188 4 5,353 126,996,389 DreamWorks
5 Road Trip 13,518,906 15,484,004 -12.7 2,631 2 5,138 35,270,527 DreamWorks
6 Small-Time Crooks 3,897,693 3,880,723 0.4 870 2 4,480 8,901,412 DreamWorks
7 Frequency 3,616,767 4,339,196 -16.6 1,803 5 2,006 35,084,665 New Line
8 U-571 3,260,205 4,637,520 -29.7 2,044 6 1,595 68,952,220 Universal
9 Center Stage 2,673,584 3,252,977 -17.8 1,506 3 1,775 12,751,724 Sony
10 Where the Heart Is 1,949,029 2,771,369 -29.7 1,368 5 1,425 28,526,729 Fox
11 The Flintstones in Viva Rock Vegas 1,699,795 2,543,950 -33.2 1,491 5 1,140 30,106,940 Universal
12 Battlefield Earth 1,073,097 3,924,921 -72.7 2,587 3 415 20,371,635 Warner Bros.
13 Erin Brockovich 1,057,355 1,104,330 -4.3 798 11 1,325 121,529,105 Universal
14 Love and Basketball 986,251 1,335,497 -26.2 540 6 1,826 25,440,700 New Line
15 Rules of Engagement 731,618 1,164,224 -37.2 793 8 923 59,525,998 Paramount
16 Michael Jordan to the MAX 701,874 505,000 39.0 45 4 15,597 3,181,903 Giant Screen
17 Keeping the Faith 606,699 1,116,165 -45.6 377 7 1,609 34,900,041 Buena Vista
18 Held Up 531,972 1,080,980 -50.8 420 3 1,267 4,213,796 Trimark
19 The Big Kahuna 480,015 791,026 -39.3 309 5 1,553 1,879,916 Lions Gate
20 Screwed 401,520 1,725,830 -76.7 803 3 500 6,801,605 Universal
Top 5 $ 153,085,320 $ 83,064,844 84.3
Top 10 168,482,598 99,438,784 69.4
Top 20 176,752,794 109,650,653 61.2

Last Updated : May 30 at 10:30PM EDT

Written by Gitesh Pandya