Weekend Box Office (June 2 - 4, 2000)

THIS WEEKEND Tom Cruise won a slim box office victory as Mission: Impossible 2 edged out a surprisingly strong opening by Martin Lawrence's comedy Big Momma's House to retain the number one spot. With no other new wide releases, the rest of the top ten featured familiar faces as the overall box office continued to outpace last year's Star Wars-fueled pace.

Mission: Impossible 2 topped the charts for the second weekend in a row grossing $27M, according to final figures, bringing its 12-day tally to a staggering $130.7M. Tom Cruise's action blockbuster dropped 53% from the Friday-to-Sunday portion of last weekend's holiday gross which is understandable for a heavily hyped sequel. The original Mission: Impossible and 1997's The Lost World, both of which launched over Memorial Day weekend, experienced similar sophomore declines. At its current pace, the $90M MI2 looks to conclude its domestic run with $190-210M.

John Woo's spy adventure also had its international premiere with a thunderous top spot bow Down Under this weekend collecting AUS$6.4M ($3.66M) over the Thursday-to-Sunday span making it the third largest opening in Australian box office history. Playing extremely wide on 366 screens, MI2 was shot mostly in Sydney and was helped by local publicity appearances by Tom Cruise last week.

Martin Lawrence scored the biggest opening of his career over the weekend with the debut of Big Momma's House which cooked up an impressive $25.7M. Playing in 2,802 theaters, the Fox comedy led all wide releases with a sizzling $9,158 average. Directed by Raja Gosnell (Never Been Kissed), Big Momma finds Lawrence as an FBI agent going undercover as a heavy-set Southern granny to catch a crook. Nia Long (The Best Man, Soul Food) stars as his love interest in the $23M comedy. Lawrence's previous best openings were for Life and Blue Streak which were both released last year with respective bows of $20.4M and $19.2M. Every Martin Lawrence film over the last six years has had an opening average of at least $6,000 proving that the colorful comedian is a bankable box office star.

Big Momma turned out to be a savior for Twentieth Century Fox which has suffered a twelve-month box office drought with such domestic disappointments as Anna and The King, Fight Club, and The Beach. The crossdressing comedy delivered the studio's biggest opening since Star Wars Episode I. Exit polls indicated that 88% of patrons rated the PG-13 film "excellent" or "very good" and 80% said they would definitely recommend it. Females made up 60% of the audience and Saturday sales increased a commendable 38% over Friday. Fox distribution chief Tom Sherak remarked that "June is a very competitive month, but the exit polls have been wonderful and we expect this film to play well throughout the month."

The top two pictures led a very fertile box office as MI2 (starring Thandie Newton who is now six months pregnant) and Big Momma's House (starring Nia Long who is expecting her child in November) joined forces to collect over $52M in ticket sales. Click here to read an interview with MI2's Thandie Newton.

Down 52% from last weekend, Disney's Dinosaur ate up $12M in its third weekend pushing its cume to $96.8M. While Saturday and Sunday matinee business remains brisk, midweek grosses are struggling since the animated film's target audience is still in school. Disney's previous summer toons have launched in the second half of June and generated healthier midweeks with kids on summer vacation. As a result, after 17 days of release, Dinosaur's cume of $96.8M is running behind last year's Tarzan (which opened on June 18) which grossed $105.7M at the same point, even though Dinosaur had the bigger opening and the Memorial Day weekend benefit. Overall, the giant lizards should rake in $135-145M domestically and a much bigger sum abroad.

Buena Vista's other early summer offering, the action-comedy Shanghai Noon, took in $9M in its sophomore frame, off 43% from its opening. The Jackie Chan Western has grossed a solid $32.2M in ten days and looks to reach $60-70M overall.

With $8.4M, Gladiator became the second highest grossing film in company history for domestic distributor DreamWorks with its cume of $139M. Trailing Saving Private Ryan's $216.3M, the Russell Crowe battle epic dipped just 40% and could hit $170M by the end of its run. Worldwide, Gladiator zoomed past $225M over the weekend.

Enjoying a low decline, the college sex comedy Road Trip eased just 38% to $6.7M in its third weekend lifting its total to $45.5M. Budgeted at $15M, the popular DreamWorks release should eventually finish with $70-80M.

Frequency remained in seventh place with $2M pushing its cume to $37.8M. Woody Allen's comedy Small Time Crooks grossed $1.7M in its third frame and lifted its total to $11.2M.

The submarine thriller U-571 followed with $1.5M giving the Universal release a solid $71.1M to date. Center Stage rounded out the top ten with $1.1M bringing its tally to $14.4M.

After five weeks, Natalie Portman's Where the Heart Is fell out of the top ten with just under $1M giving the motherhood saga $30M. Fox acquired the film for $9M and should reach about $33M in domestic sales.

Stumbling into limited release over the weekend was the child-befriends-horse pic Running Free which ate up $55,451 in only 100 theaters for a poor $555 average. The obligatory theatrical release precedes the film's home video launch.

Compared to projections, MI2 was very close to my $28M forecast, however, Big Momma's House opened much bigger than my $16M prediction.

Take this week's NEW Reader Survey on Nicolas Cage's Gone in 60 Seconds. In last week's survey, readers were asked which of five June releases they wanted to see the most. Of 4,967 responses, 28% picked Me, Myself, and Irene, 26% said The Perfect Storm, 15% voted for Shaft, 15% selected Gone in 60 Seconds, and 15% picked The Patriot.

Be sure to read the Weekly Rewind column which reports on the top June openings. Wednesday's new column goes back to June 1993. For a review of Big Momma's House visit The Chief Report.

The top ten films over the weekend grossed $95.1M which was up a sizable 23% from last year when Star Wars Episode I spent its third weekend on top with $32.9M, and up 12% from 1998 when The Truman Show debuted at number one with $31.5M.

Be sure to check back on Thursday for a complete summary, including projections, for next weekend when Gone in 60 Seconds races into theaters nationwide.

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

# Title June 2 - 4 May 26 - 28 % Chg. Theaters Weeks AVG Cumulative Dist.
1 Mission: Impossible 2 $ 27,016,029 $ 57,845,297 -53.3 3,653 2 $ 7,396 $ 130,719,917 Paramount
2 Big Momma's House 25,661,041 2,802 1 9,158 25,661,041 Fox
3 Dinosaur 12,035,617 25,037,914 -51.9 3,319 3 3,626 96,845,828 Buena Vista
4 Shanghai Noon 8,966,077 15,607,034 -42.6 2,745 2 3,266 32,232,411 Buena Vista
5 Gladiator 8,376,721 13,430,378 -37.6 3,056 5 2,741 138,958,290 DreamWorks
6 Road Trip 6,733,164 10,908,618 -38.3 2,654 3 2,537 45,548,022 DreamWorks
7 Frequency 2,023,819 2,834,178 -28.6 1,605 6 1,261 37,788,230 New Line
8 Small Time Crooks 1,673,201 3,058,631 -45.3 874 3 1,914 11,164,920 DreamWorks
9 U-571 1,537,920 2,595,880 -40.8 1,602 7 960 71,113,720 Universal
10 Center Stage 1,053,768 2,147,530 -50.9 1,362 4 774 14,378,938 Sony
11 Where the Heart Is 956,014 1,549,749 -38.3 1,070 6 893 30,015,533 Fox
12 The Flintstones in Viva Rock Vegas 734,825 1,267,405 -42.0 1,105 6 665 31,087,215 Universal
13 Erin Brockovich 615,395 861,845 -28.6 737 12 835 122,379,420 Universal
14 Michael Jordan to the MAX 406,721 580,000 -29.9 45 5 9,038 3,724,416 Giant Screen
15 Love and Basketball 347,998 800,000 -56.5 450 7 773 25,979,443 New Line
16 Rules of Engagement 316,061 600,824 -47.4 555 9 569 59,997,864 Paramount
17 Keeping the Faith 282,884 487,866 -42.0 279 8 1,014 35,300,593 Buena Vista
18 The Big Kahuna 265,088 480,015 -44.8 220 6 1,205 2,199,181 Lions Gate
19 East is East 242,437 330,000 -26.5 157 8 1,544 2,322,393 Miramax
20 The Virgin Suicides 236,539 300,000 -21.2 183 7 1,293 3,353,397 Par. Classics
Top 5 $ 82,055,485 $ 122,829,241 -33.2
Top 10 95,077,357 135,797,798 -30.0
Top 20 99,481,319 142,773,009 -30.3

Last Updated : June 5 at 8:00PM EDT

Written by Gitesh Pandya