Weekend Box Office (June 8 - 10, 2001)

THIS WEEKEND John Travolta's new action thriller Swordfish opened atop the North American box office displacing two-time champ Pearl Harbor which saw its sales get sliced in half. The sci-fi comedy Evolution generated a moderate debut while most holdovers suffered large declines.

Warner Bros. seized the top spot with the computer hacker picture Swordfish which debuted with $18.1M, according to final studio figures, giving Travolta his first number one opening since the legal drama A Civil Action from January 1999. Directed by Dominic Sena, the R-rated thriller arrived in 2,678 theaters and averaged a solid $6,776 per site. Swordfish also gave action producer Joel Silver his seventh consecutive number one opening and performed much like his last two features - Exit Wounds and Romeo Must Die - which premiered with $18.5M and $18M respectively. Those spring releases went on to reach domestic totals of $52M and $56M.

After an embarrassing year in 2000 starring in the commercial flops Battlefield Earth and Lucky Numbers, John Travolta proved once again he could open a picture with Swordfish. The debut stands as the actor's third-best ever after his previous June action films Face/Off ($23.4M) and The General's Daughter ($22.3M). Swordfish, which also stars Halle Berry, Hugh Jackman, and Don Cheadle, performed best with adult men as 56% of the audience was male and 61% were 25 or older, according to Warner Bros. distribution president Dan Fellman. "This opening proves that it's good to be in the Travolta business with the right film," he added.

Fellman also noted that the NBA Finals on Friday night may have had a "major impact" on moviegoing that day as evidenced by the Saturday increases in the two cities whose teams are playing for the basketball championship. In Los Angeles, Swordfish rose 44% while in Philadelphia it was up a whopping 90%. Nationwide, the techno-thriller climbed 25% on Saturday. However, though it launched in the top spot, Swordfish delivered the smallest gross for a number one movie in June since 1997 when Speed 2 debuted on top with $16.2M.

Holding onto the number two spot for the third consecutive weekend, DreamWorks' animated hit Shrek collected $16.5M pushing its blockbuster cume to $176.1M. The PG-rated ogre tale slid 41% and averaged $4,447 from a record 3,715 theaters. By comparison, 1994's The Lion King and 1999's Toy Story 2 had grossed $174.3M and $156.4M, respectively, after their fourth weekends.

Moviegoers gave the war epic Pearl Harbor a Hawaiian punch over the weekend sending the Jerry Bruckheimer-produced film falling 50% to $14.7M in its third frame. After 17 days of release, the megabudgeted, megahyped picture has grossed $144M. Pearl Harbor is now depreciating faster than other recent event films opening over Memorial Day weekend. Third weekend declines for such movies include 36% for last year's Mission: Impossible 2 and 46% for both 1998's Godzilla and 1997's The Lost World. On its current trajectory, the $140M-budgeted Pearl Harbor now seems likely to finish its domestic run with $180-190M, falling short of the grosses of the other May blockbusters Shrek and The Mummy Returns.

The sci-fi comedy Evolution premiered in fourth place with $13.4M from 2,611 theaters for a decent $5,135 average per location. Directed by Ivan Reitman, the PG-13 tale stars David Duchovny and Orlando Jones as college professors battling the arrival of aliens and skewed to a younger audience. "The film played above-average with those under 21 and average with everyone else," remarked Jim Tharp, head of distribution for DreamWorks. The studio co-produced the effects-heavy Evolution with Sony which will handle international territories.

The Rob Schneider comedy The Animal saw ticket sales tumble 51% in its second weekend to $9.6M. Still, the $22M Sony release has grossed $35.7M in ten days and seems headed for $55-60M. Schneider's last comedy, Deuce Bigalow: Male Gigolo, dropped a more reasonable 32% in its sophomore frame and eventually took in $65.5M.

Nicole Kidman and Ewan McGregor embraced the number six spot with the $50M musical extravaganza Moulin Rouge which brought in $7.6M in its second weekend of national release. With $27.6M to date, the Fox title dropped 44% and is struggling to find widespread appeal as it heads for a $45-50M final domestic gross. Overseas prospects look much brighter, though, due to the subject matter and international appeal of the stars.

MGM's comedy What's the Worst That Could Happen? suffered the worst fall in the top ten plunging 58% in its sophomore frame to $5.5M. Budgeted at $42M, the Martin Lawrence-Danny DeVito film has collected $22.4M in ten days and looks to reach a disappointing $30-35M. That would make Worst the lowest-grossing picture for Lawrence in over seven years.

Universal claimed eighth place with its franchise picture The Mummy Returns which grossed $4.7M, down 39%, giving the adventure sequel $188.7M to date. Rounding out the top ten were the Sony jousting film A Knight's Tale and the Miramax comedy Bridget Jones's Diary with $1.7M and $1.1M, respectively, putting their totals at $52.7M and $67.4M.

In limited release, Disney successfully launched its animated adventure film Atlantis: The Lost Empire in exclusive engagements in New York and Los Angeles discovering a mammoth $329,011 from just two theaters. The studio will open the PG-rated film across North America on Friday in about 3,000 theaters opposite Paramount's highly-anticipated action entry Tomb Raider.

Also debuting in New York and Los Angeles was Fine Line's The Anniversary Party which enjoyed a strong start with $158,533 from 11 theaters for a $14,412 average. Written and directed by Alan Cumming and Jennifer Jason Leigh, the ensemble film features Gwenyth Paltrow, Kevin Kline, and Phoebe Cates and will expand on June 22 into roughly 100 theaters.

Two crime thrillers dropped out of the top ten over the weekend. Jennifer Lopez's Angel Eyes has grossed $23M for Warner Bros. thus far and should finish with not much more. The R-rated picture has become the lowest-grossing film for the actress since 1997's U-Turn which took in just $6.6M.

The independent hit Memento has grossed $17.3M to date while playing in less than 500 theaters in its run. Distributed by Newmarket Films, the Guy Pearce starrer should conclude with about $18-20M.

Compared to projections, Swordfish debuted very close to my $19M forecast but Evolution opened below my $20M prediction.

The top ten films grossed $93.1M which was up 3% from last year when Gone in 60 Seconds opened in the top spot with $25.3M; but down 17% from 1999 when Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me debuted at number one with $54.9M.

Take this week's NEW Reader Survey on the opening weekend gross of Tomb Raider. In last week's survey, readers were asked which May blockbuster will reach the highest gross. Of 2,729 responses, 76% picked Shrek, 19% chose Pearl Harbor, and 5% selected The Mummy Returns.

Read the Weekly Rewind column which reports on the box office success of films this year with African-American stars. For a review of Swordfish visit The Chief Report.

Be sure to check back on Thursday for a complete summary, including projections, for next weekend when Tomb Raider and Atlantis open.

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

# Title June 8 - 10 June 1 - 3 % Chg. Theaters Weeks AVG Cumulative Dist.
1 Swordfish $ 18,145,632 2,678 1 $ 6,776 $ 18,145,632 Warner Bros.
2 Shrek 16,520,052 28,172,869 -41.4 3,715 4 4,447 176,069,428 DreamWorks
3 Pearl Harbor 14,721,419 29,558,276 -50.2 3,255 3 4,523 143,987,500 Buena Vista
4 Evolution 13,408,351 2,611 1 5,135 13,408,351 DreamWorks
5 The Animal 9,607,627 19,610,520 -51.0 2,788 2 3,446 35,651,090 Sony
6 Moulin Rouge 7,649,148 13,718,306 -44.2 2,283 4 3,350 27,569,224 Fox
7 What's the Worst That Could Happen? 5,476,007 13,049,114 -58.0 2,675 2 2,047 22,397,310 MGM
8 The Mummy Returns 4,700,130 7,753,680 -39.4 2,540 6 1,850 188,749,560 Universal
9 A Knight's Tale 1,702,336 3,417,394 -50.2 1,850 5 920 52,660,994 Sony
10 Bridget Jones's Diary 1,145,298 2,014,889 -43.2 975 9 1,175 67,350,448 Miramax
11 Memento 741,004 1,090,562 -32.1 452 13 1,639 17,271,727 Newmarket
12 Angel Eyes 547,553 1,888,660 -71.0 1,003 4 546 23,021,840 Warner Bros.
13 Atlantis: The Lost Empire 329,011 2 1 164,506 329,011 Buena Vista
14 Along Came a Spider 301,234 745,036 -59.6 526 10 573 72,414,189 Paramount
15 O Brother Where Art Thou? 240,123 314,271 -23.6 336 25 715 44,639,862 Buena Vista
16 With a Friend Like Harry 183,734 190,556 -3.6 99 8 1,856 2,059,312 Miramax
17 Save the Last Dance 180,936 214,142 -15.5 243 22 745 90,467,616 Paramount
18 Spy Kids 172,710 438,335 -60.6 467 11 370 106,262,463 Miramax
19 Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon 164,146 269,610 -39.1 229 27 717 127,440,810 Sony Classics
20 Crocodile Dundee in LA 159,374 305,211 -47.8 410 8 389 24,577,625 Paramount
Top 5 $ 72,403,081 $ 104,109,085 -30.5
Top 10 93,076,000 120,274,270 -22.6
Top 20 96,095,825 123,779,355 -22.4
Top 20 vs. 2000 96,095,825 94,425,935 1.8

Last Updated : June 11, 2001 at 7:45PM EDT