Weekend Box Office (June 9 - 11, 2000)

THIS WEEKEND Nicolas Cage stole the top spot from Tom Cruise as Gone in 60 Seconds displaced Mission: Impossible 2 and became the most popular film in North American theaters. However, MI2 did manage to cross the $150M barrier, as did Gladiator, while Dinosaur surpassed $100M keeping the overall summer season hot, even though weekend box office sales did not reach the Austin Powers-led heights from a year ago.

Racing into the number one spot, Nicolas Cage scored a career-best $25.3M opening, according to final studio figures, for his car heist film Gone in 60 Seconds. The Jerry Bruckheimer-produced action picture bowed ultrawide in 3,006 theaters and averaged a superb $8,428 per site. The Buena Vista release finds the Oscar-winning actor as a retired auto thief who is forced to steal cars again to save his brother's life. Directed by Dominic Sena, Seconds also stars Angelina Jolie, Robert Duvall, Giovanni Ribisi, and Delroy Lindo.

After starring in a string of box office duds like 8MM and Bringing Out the Dead, Nicolas Cage wisely returned to the world of Bruckheimer action films and enjoyed an opening that inched ahead of the $25.1M debut of his 1996 hit The Rock. However, that film opened in 600 fewer theaters with a more powerful $10,481 average and played before the recent rounds of ticket price increases. Interestingly enough, The Rock launched this very weekend four years ago and knocked the first Mission: Impossible from the top spot after a two-week reign.

Buena Vista reported that the audience for Gone in 60 Seconds was 60% male and 51% under 25. Of those polled, 88% rated the PG-13 film "excellent" or "very good". Critics, meanwhile, trashed the big-budget action film with USA Today describing it as "a cheeseball of a speedball" while Entertainment Weekly gave it a D calling it "a flat-tired heist flick." The Friday-to-Saturday increase of 12% was slim which could indicate a lack of stability in the competitive weeks ahead.

The table below examines the opening weekend performances of producer Jerry Bruckheimer's last five action films:

Title Opening ($M) Theaters AVG ($) Release Final ($M)
Gone in 60 Seconds 25.3 3006 8,428 Jun 00
Enemy of the State 20.0 2393 8,374 Nov 98 111.5
Armageddon 36.1 3127 11,541 Jul 98 201.6
Con Air 24.1 2824 8,545 Jun 97 101.1
The Rock 25.1 2392 10,481 Jun 96 134.0

After two weeks at number one, Mission: Impossible 2 took a step back to the runnerup spot with $17.2M, off 36%. However, with $158.1M in sales, the Tom Cruise sequel has become the year's top-grossing movie surpassing Gladiator's $150.2M. MI2 is still on course for a final domestic gross of around $200M which would give Paramount's blockbuster spy franchise about $381M from two installments exceeding the combined $359M from Pierce Brosnan's three James Bond films.

In its second weekend, Martin Lawrence's hit comedy Big Momma's House dropped a reasonable 33% to $17.2M putting the Fox release's ten-day tally at a portly $52.4M. The sophomore decline was a bit better than the 35% second weekend drop that the popular comedian witnessed for his last film Blue Streak which opened last fall. Much of Big Momma's success has come from spectacular sales from African-Americans and women - two demographic groups largely ignored by most other releases in the marketplace. Lawrence is well on his way to scoring the highest-grossing film of his career as the $23M comedy should reach $90-100M in domestic receipts.

The effects of megaplexing were evident at the box office over the weekend as an amazing seven films were able to play in over 2,500 theaters each. Just four years ago, when The Rock and Mission: Impossible topped the charts, only two pictures managed to play that wide. The increasing number of available screens has allowed distributors to enter a crowded summer field and still secure a giant number of playdates for their product.

Disney's computer-animated adventure film Dinosaur fell just 27% in its fourth session to $8.8M giving the family film $110.5M. Last Wednesday, in its 20th day of release, the pricey prehistoric tale became the fourth movie released this year to cross the $100M mark.

Russell Crowe flexed his muscles in fifth place with Gladiator which experienced the smallest decline in the top ten easing just 16% to $7.1M. After its sixth weekend of battle, the Ridley Scott epic has amassed a mighty $150.2M and is still steadily climbing. Worldwide cume for the DreamWorks/Universal co-production has shattered the $250M mark.

While the box office charts have seen little shuffling in the past two weeks, next weekend promises to bring a radical revamp with no less than four films debuting in national release including Paramount's update of Shaft and Miramax's teen comedy Boys and Girls. Animation lovers can choose between Fox's futuristic Titan A.E., which launches in 2,600 theaters, and Disney's standard-format issue of Fantasia 2000 which leaps into 1,300 venues.

Jackie Chan's Shanghai Noon dropped 34% to $5.9M in its third weekend. The action-comedy took sixth place and has lifted its cume to $41.6M. Another comedy took seventh as Road Trip slipped a mere 27% to $4.9M. The Dreamworks release has now increased its tally to a potent $54.2M to date.

Rounding out the top ten were New Line's Frequency with $1.45M in its seventh frame, the Woody Allen caper pic Small Time Crooks with $1.38M in its fourth term, and the submarine thriller U-571 which took in $1.06M in its eighth weekend raising its cume to a healthy $72.9M.

Delivering a spectacular opening in limited release, the Indian film Josh debuted in only 30 theaters but grossed a hefty $282,881 putting it in 16th place on the North American charts. The Hindi-language film's sizzling $9,429 average was the best in the Top Twenty beating out Gone in 60 Seconds' $8,428 and MI2's $4,696. Distributed by Eros Entertainment, Josh stars Bollywood heartthrobs Shah Rukh Khan and Aishwarya Rai.

Enjoying a sturdy platform debut was Sunshine starring Ralph Fiennes which collected $84,869 from seven New York and Los Angeles locations for a terrific $12,124 average. Paramount Classics reported enormous Friday-to-Saturday increases for the historical drama and plans to expand into more markets on June 23rd.

Also packing art houses in specialized release was Kenneth Branagh's new version of the Shakespeare classic Love's Labour's Lost which took in $24,496 from only two theaters for an impressive $12,248 per venue. Sony Classics premiered Groove, a rave music scene film picked up at Sundance, in nine warehouses and grossed $55,946 for a $6,216 average per theater.

Compared to projections, Gone in 60 Seconds was right on target with my $25M forecast. Both MI2 and Big Momma's House were very close to my respecive predictions of $16M and $17M.

Take this week's NEW Reader Survey on which of this Friday's four new releases will have the best opening. In last week's survey, readers were asked if they thought Gone in 60 Seconds would debut with at least $22M. Of 2,571 responses, 68% correctly answered yes while 32% said no.

Be sure to read the Weekly Rewind column which looks back at June 1993 when Jurassic Park set a new opening weekend record. For reviews of MI2 or Big Momma's House visit The Chief Report.

The top ten films over the weekend grossed $90.4M which was down 19% from last year when the Austin Powers sequel debuted on top with a shagadelic $54.9M, but up 12% from 1998 when The Truman Show remained at number one with $20M in its second weekend.

Be sure to check back on Thursday for a complete summary, including projections, for next weekend's busy session when four new wide releases shove their way into theaters.

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

# Title June 9 - 11 June 2 - 4 % Chg. Theaters Weeks AVG Cumulative Dist.
1 Gone in 60 Seconds $ 25,336,048 3,006 1 $ 8,428 $ 25,336,048 Buena Vista
2 Mission: Impossible 2 17,231,372 27,016,029 -36.2 3,669 3 4,696 158,068,698 Paramount
3 Big Momma's House 17,223,178 25,661,041 -32.9 2,854 2 6,035 52,424,411 Fox
4 Dinosaur 8,829,956 12,035,617 -26.6 3,275 4 2,696 110,451,125 Buena Vista
5 Gladiator 7,074,047 8,376,721 -15.6 2,706 6 2,614 150,174,374 DreamWorks
6 Shanghai Noon 5,942,362 8,966,077 -33.7 2,751 3 2,160 41,606,214 Buena Vista
7 Road Trip 4,908,396 6,733,164 -27.1 2,586 4 1,898 54,154,445 DreamWorks
8 Frequency 1,451,598 2,023,819 -28.3 1,219 7 1,191 40,105,507 New Line
9 Small Time Crooks 1,375,885 1,673,201 -17.8 886 4 1,553 13,233,440 DreamWorks
10 U-571 1,060,660 1,537,920 -31.0 1,172 8 905 72,911,300 Universal
11 Center Stage 680,098 1,053,768 -35.5 920 5 739 15,685,844 Sony
12 Where the Heart Is 671,679 956,014 -29.7 832 7 807 31,236,598 Fox
13 Erin Brockovich 527,260 615,395 -14.3 643 13 820 123,230,975 Universal
14 The Flintstones in Viva Rock Vegas 519,435 734,825 -29.3 873 7 595 31,998,800 Universal
15 Michael Jordan to the MAX 414,579 406,721 1.9 46 6 9,013 4,365,726 Giant Screen
16 Josh 282,881 30 1 9,429 282,881 Eros
17 East is East 235,370 242,437 -2.9 137 9 1,718 2,667,008 Miramax
18 Keeping the Faith 225,028 282,884 -20.5 239 9 942 35,656,358 Buena Vista
19 The Virgin Suicides 223,159 236,539 -5.7 192 8 1,162 3,723,898 Par. Classics
20 Love and Basketball 212,944 347,998 -38.8 292 8 729 26,330,809 New Line
Top 5 $ 75,694,601 $ 82,055,485 -7.8
Top 10 90,433,502 95,077,357 -4.9
Top 20 94,425,935 99,481,319 -5.1

Last Updated : June 12 at 7:30PM EDT

Written by Gitesh Pandya