Weekend Box Office (June 6 - 8, 2003)

THIS WEEKEND Speed demons turned out in full force to support the car chase sequel 2 Fast 2 Furious which raced to the number one spot at the North American box office pushing the animated blockbuster Finding Nemo to a strong second place finish. The overall marketplace continued to run at a scorching pace as for the first time ever, the box office generated $50M+ openings over four consecutive frames.

Universal was back on top of the charts this weekend with 2 Fast 2 Furious which debuted with $50.5M, according to final studio figures. With a lethal nitrous oxide boost, the PG-13 film sped into 3,408 theaters and averaged a turbo-charged $14,810 per site. The bow exceeded the opening of its 2001 predecessor The Fast and the Furious which also launched in June with $40.1M, but averaged a better $15,254 from 2,628 locations. The sequel featured mostly new faces as actor Vin Diesel, rapper Ja Rule, and director Rob Cohen did not return for a second lap. Instead, 2 Fast teams returning star Paul Walker with Tyrese and put director John Singleton in the driver's seat. Rap star Ludacris, Eva Mendes, and model Devon Aoki also star with the setting changing from Los Angeles to Miami.

Studio exit polls showed nothing surprising as the audience skewed young male and was racially diverse. Three-fourths of the crowd was under 25 while males made up 55%. With its multicultural cast attracting various segments of the moviegoing audience, exit polls showed that 38% were Latino, 16% were African-American, and 8% were Asian-American. An encouraging 90% found 2 Fast to be "excellent" or "very good." The film's production cost of $80M more than doubled from the $38M budget of the first film. That smash ended up grossing $144.5M domestically and became one of the year's biggest surprise hits.

In its only international debut, 2 Fast 2 Furious opened with a four-day gross of US$3.7M in Australia this weekend more than doubling the openings for both The Fast and the Furious and Vin Diesel's XXX. The high-powered sequel races into Brazil and Mexico this coming weekend and launches in major European territories like Germany, France, and the United Kingdom the following weekend.

With 2 Fast 2 Furious leading the way this weekend, the overall box office continued its red hot pace and raced well ahead of normal levels for this time of year. For the first time since last June, three films grossed over $20M each this weekend. The summer season has started with a loud bang as the month of May gave birth to four blockbusters that will end up with over $200M a piece - also a new industry first. Some credit can go to the excessive rain and bad weather in many parts of the nation over the last few weeks. But the studios have done their part by not only marketing and releasing movies with tremendous appeal, but by also spacing them out evenly on the calendar so each has room to succeed.

Last weekend's top fish Finding Nemo sunk to second place but posted a healthy sophomore frame with $46.6M in ticket sales. Down only 34%, the Disney/Pixar toon has grossed a colossal $144M in only ten days. By comparison, Monsters, Inc. slipped 27% in its second weekend and scared up $122.2M in its first ten days. At its current rate, Finding Nemo should find itself with about $270-290M domestically which would allow it to sneak past Shrek to become the second highest-grossing animated film after The Lion King.

Jim Carrey's runaway hit comedy Bruce Almighty claimed third place with $22.4M dropping 40% in its third frame. After 17 days, the Universal blockbuster has grossed a towering $171.4M.

Paramount's heist flick The Italian Job enjoyed a strong hold in its sophomore frame despite formidable action competition and grossed $13.2M. With $40M in ten days, the $65M production looks to reach a solid $75-85M at the summer box office.

Warner Bros. added 39 Imax theaters to the run of The Matrix Reloaded this weekend and watched its decline stabilze to 41% as the sci-fi sequel dropped to $9.2M. The year's biggest blockbuster has grossed $247.8M in 25 days putting it at number 25 on the list of all-time domestic blockbusters after 1997's Men in Black ($250.1M). Reloaded is on course to conclude its run with $270-280M stateside. Overseas, the middle saga in the trilogy zoomed to $300M in grosses (powered by a record bow in Japan) as the worldwide total approached a towering $550M with much to go.

Sony's Daddy Day Care continued to hold up well slipping 32% to $4.6M in its fifth class pushing the cume to a robust $88.5M. X2: X-Men United placed seventh with $3M, down 41%, boosting its total to $204.3M. The Fox sequel now sits at number 46 on the list of all-time blockbusters ahead of The Mummy Returns which grossed $202M in 2001.

Getting slashed in half in its second weekend was Fox's killers-in-the-woods horror pic Wrong Turn which collected $2.7M for a ten-day tally of just $9.7M. Produced for $15M, the R-rated film should finish with a tally that matches. Falling 47% to $2M was the Michael Douglas-Albert Brooks comedy The In-Laws which has taken in just $17.9M to date.

Kicking its way back into the top ten was indie sensation Bend It Like Beckham which enjoyed the best hold by far among films in the top ten slipping a mere 12% to $942,320. After thirteen weekends, the Fox Searchlight hit has taken in a rosy $20.5M without ever playing in more than 600 theaters. Beckham's final tally is hard to measure given its great legs, but $25-30M is surely a reasonable target making it a better performer than recent star-driven Hollywood films like Basic, Down With Love, and The In-Laws.

To get a jump on next weekend's crowded frame, Sony offered sneak previews on Saturday evening for its Harrison Ford-Josh Hartnett cop buddy pic Hollywood Homicide. The studio arrested moviegoers in 766 locations and reported that the sneaks were about 70% full and drew evenly between males and females. As for age, the majority of those who turned out were over the age of 30 which should allow it to co-exist in the marketplace next weekend when it opens opposite the high school comedy Dumb and Dumberer and the kidpic The Rugrats Go Wild.

Two female-skewing films fell from the top ten over the weekend. Fox's romantic comedy Down With Love eased 43% to $888,723 in its fifth frame and pushed its cume to $18.8M. The Renee Zellweger-Ewan McGregor pic should finish with a disappointing $21M. Disney's The Lizzie McGuire Movie dropped 45% to $641,130 for a $40.5M total. The $25M teen pic should finish with around $42M.

The top ten films grossed $155M which was up an astounding 55% from last year when The Sum Of All Fears remained at number one with $19.2M; and up 67% from 2001 when Swordfish opened in the top spot with $18.1M.

Compared to projections, 2 Fast 2 Furious opened very close to my $53M forecast and Finding Nemo was also on target with my $46M prediction.

Take this week's NEW Reader Survey on which of this Friday's new releases will have the biggest opening. In last week's survey, readers were asked whether Finding Nemo would gross more domestically than The Matrix Reloaded. Of 5,056 responses, 72% said Yes while 28% voted No.

For a review of 2 Fast 2 Furious visit The Chief Report.

Be sure to check back on Thursday for a complete summary, including projections, for next weekend when Hollywood Homicide, Dumb and Dumberer, and Rugrats Go Wild all open.

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

# Title Jun 6 - 8 May 30 - Jun 1 % Chg. Theaters Weeks AVG Cumulative Distributor
1 2 Fast 2 Furious $ 50,472,480 3,408 1 $ 14,810 $ 50,472,480 Universal
2 Finding Nemo 46,589,649 70,251,710 -33.7 3,391 2 13,739 144,043,789 Buena Vista
3 Bruce Almighty 22,358,715 37,329,480 -40.1 3,549 3 6,300 171,435,525 Universal
4 The Italian Job 13,163,133 19,457,944 -32.4 2,877 2 4,575 40,000,274 Paramount
5 The Matrix Reloaded 9,186,342 15,687,241 -41.4 3,225 4 2,848 247,778,753 Warner Bros.
6 Daddy Day Care 4,613,566 6,744,438 -31.6 2,713 5 1,701 88,465,297 Sony
7 X2: X-Men United 3,006,643 5,096,942 -41.0 2,050 6 1,467 204,263,301 Fox
8 Wrong Turn 2,654,013 5,161,498 -48.6 1,614 2 1,644 9,741,494 Fox
9 The In-Laws 1,978,398 3,741,063 -47.1 2,047 3 966 17,896,585 Warner Bros.
10 Bend It Like Beckham 942,320 1,074,148 -12.3 493 13 1,911 20,545,640 Fox Searchlight
11 Down With Love 888,723 1,570,924 -43.4 773 5 1,150 18,761,086 Fox
12 Holes 691,297 931,956 -25.8 692 8 999 63,053,630 Buena Vista
13 The Lizzie McGuire Movie 641,130 1,171,379 -45.3 753 6 851 40,519,493 Buena Vista
14 A Mighty Wind 464,389 664,465 -30.1 361 8 1,286 16,125,710 Warner Bros.
15 Anger Management 366,698 662,801 -44.7 427 9 859 133,441,228 Sony
16 Identity 316,330 771,571 -59.0 344 7 920 51,221,726 Sony
17 Spellbound 304,719 230,528 32.2 77 6 3,957 1,122,046 ThinkFilm
18 Winged Migration 297,700 225,028 32.3 58 8 5,133 1,560,600 Sony Classics
19 Bringing Down the House 269,066 381,844 -29.5 318 14 846 130,821,038 Buena Vista
20 L'Auberge Espagnole 268,005 198,085 35.3 71 4 3,775 934,346 Fox Searchlight
Top 5 $ 141,770,319 $ 149,470,813 -5.2
Top 10 154,965,259 166,212,619 -6.8
Top 20 159,473,316 171,863,127 -7.2
Top 20 vs. 2002 159,473,316 106,524,035 49.7

Last Updated : June 9, 2003 at 5:00PM EDT

Written by Gitesh Pandya