Weekend Box Office (June 15 - 17, 2001)

THIS WEEKEND Angelina Jolie conquered the North American box office with the explosive debut of her action-adventure film Lara Croft: Tomb Raider while Disney's animated saga Atlantis: The Lost Empire premiered in second place. Led by the pair of new releases, the overall marketplace delivered the largest non-holiday weekend of the year.

Grossing more than the next three films combined, Paramount's Tomb Raider opened at number one with a towering $47.7M, according to final figures, giving the studio its second-biggest debut ever. Based on the wildly popular video game, the PG-13 film invaded 3,308 theaters and averaged a sizzling $14,430 per site. Tomb Raider generated the largest opening ever for a movie headlined by a woman surpassing the $40.1M debut of Charlie's Angels. The Simon West-directed picture also ranks as the fourth best June opening and the fourth biggest debut of 2001.

The spectacular opening of Tomb Raider comes as good news to Paramount which has led all studios in market share for most of the year. The debut trails only last summer's Mission: Impossible 2 ($57.8M) among the company's top openings. With the Oscar-winning Jolie signed for two sequels, Paramount now has a new franchise to keep the grosses coming in for years to come. Tomb Raider was budgeted at $80M, according to the studio, with producing partner Mutual Film Company covering $50M of that amount. After just three days of release, the buff Jolie has grossed more than the entire domestic runs of the most recent films from former action heroes Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sylvester Stallone, and Kevin Costner.

Paramount reported that the audience for the effects-filled picture was 55% male and split evenly between those over and under 25. According to the distributor, Tomb Raider grossed $18M on Friday, slipped 5% to $17.1M on Saturday, and fell 26% to $12.6M on Sunday. The Friday-to-Saturday decline is never a good sign for a film, but the studio attributes it to video game fans rushing out on opening day to see their favorite heroine. Moviegoers polled by CinemaScore gave Tomb Raider a decent B grade.

The big-budget thrill ride debuted in Singapore as well this weekend with a Friday-Saturday tally of $450,000, according to Variety, giving it a bigger debut than The Mummy Returns. Tomb Raider invades Australia on Thursday, hits most of Europe in the coming weeks, and enters Japan in September.

Disney sailed into the number two spot with its aquatic adventure film Atlantis: The Lost Empire which opened with $20.3M. Surfacing in 3,011 theaters, the animated film averaged a solid $6,756 per location and brought its total to $20.8M which includes $501,360 from exclusive one-week engagements in New York and Los Angeles. Featuring the voice of Michael J. Fox, Atlantis generated a debut similar to Disney's previous June toons Hercules and The Hunchback of Notre Dame which opened with $21.5M and $21M, respectively.

CinemaScore audiences gave Atlantis an A grade which could bode well for the rest of the summer. With its PG rating and lack of musical numbers, Atlantis differs from the studio's previous animated efforts but the film still generated a solid opening despite competition from the enormously popular animated comedy Shrek. Disney's summer toons have generally reached total grosses that were five times their openings so Atlantis will follow suit and try to reach the $100M mark.

The mighty Shrek continued its muscular run taking third place with $13.2M which boosted the total for the DreamWorks blockbuster to $197.5M making it the highest-grossing film released this year. The fairy tale comedy enjoyed the smallest decline in the top ten slipping just 20% which is especially impressive considering the film lost 400 theaters and faced new competition from Atlantis. Shrek now sits at number 34 on the list of all-time domestic blockbusters between Armageddon ($201.6M from 1998) and Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade ($197.2M from 1989).

Last weekend's top film, Swordfish starring John Travolta, dipped only 30% to $12.7M in its sophomore session. After ten days, the Warner Bros. release has collected $39.8M. Budgeted at $65M, Swordfish looks to reach $75-80M domestically and should perform well in international territories.

Buena Vista's summer event film Pearl Harbor enjoyed the smallest decline of its run by slipping 33% to $9.9M. The historical action-romance has taken in $160.4M thus far. Overseas, the Jerry Bruckheimer production is enjoying strong bows and surprisingly low declines in many markets and has raised its international cume to $74M, according to Variety.

The sci-fi comedy Evolution plunged 51% in its second weekend collecting $6.6M. The expensive DreamWorks/Sony co-production has taken in just $25.6M in ten days and should end up in the vicinity of $40M domestically.

Sony's The Animal fell 40% to $5.8M in its third weekend giving the Rob Schneider comedy $45.5M to date. The musical romance Moulin Rouge eased 34% to $5M pushing the Fox title's cume to $36.6M.

MGM's comedy What's the Worst That Could Happen? grossed $3M, off 45%, giving the Martin Lawrence picture $27.7M. The Mummy Returns rounded out the top ten with $2.7M putting the Universal sequel's blockbuster total at $193.5M.

In limited release, Sony Entertainment Television released the Hindi-language film Lagaan and reported a weekend gross of $285,368 over the Friday-to-Sunday period. Playing in 34 theaters in top markets across the United States and Canada, the Aamir Khan film averaged a solid $8,393 per theater.

Fox Searchlight witnessed a terrific debut for its British crime drama Sexy Beast which opened in nine theaters with $170,356 for a spectacular $18,928 average. Opening in New York, Los Angeles, and Toronto, the Ben Kingsley-Ray Winstone picture capitalized on glowing reviews and has collected $214,580 since its Wednesday premiere. Sexy Beast expands into ten more markets on Friday and will continue to add new cities each week into July.

Two films dropped out of the top ten over the weekend. Sony's medieval action flick A Knight's Tale tumbled 58% to $715,671 in its sixth frame lifting its cume to $54.3M. Produced for $41M, the Heath Ledger starrer should reach around $56M. The English hit comedy Bridget Jones's Diary has grossed $68.7M in North America and is likely to end with a superb $71M.

Compared to projections, Tomb Raider opened close to my $45M forecast while Atlantis debuted below my $27M prediction.

The top ten films grossed $127M which was up 35% from last year when Shaft opened in the top spot with $21.7M; but up only 3% from 1999 when Tarzan debuted at number one with $34.2M.

Take this week's NEW Reader Survey on what most influences your desire to see a movie. In last week's survey, readers were asked if Tomb Raider would open with more than $40M. Of 4,223 responses, 68% correctly guessed Yes, while 32% said No.

Read the Weekly Rewind column which reports on the box office performance of Disney's major animated films of the last ten years. For a review of Tomb Raider visit The Chief Report.

Be sure to check back on Thursday for a complete summary, including projections, for next weekend when Doctor Dolittle 2 and The Fast and the Furious open.

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

# Title June 15 - 17 June 8 - 10 % Chg. Theaters Weeks AVG Cumulative Dist.
1 Lara Croft: Tomb Raider $ 47,735,743 3,308 1 $ 14,430 $ 47,735,743 Paramount
2 Atlantis: The Lost Empire 20,342,105 329,011 3,011 2 6,756 20,843,465 Buena Vista
3 Shrek 13,181,576 16,520,052 -20.2 3,317 5 3,974 197,528,004 DreamWorks
4 Swordfish 12,725,519 18,145,632 -29.9 2,688 2 4,734 39,779,248 Warner Bros.
5 Pearl Harbor 9,859,120 14,721,419 -33.0 3,140 4 3,140 160,358,492 Buena Vista
6 Evolution 6,615,219 13,408,351 -50.7 2,613 2 2,532 25,562,723 DreamWorks
7 The Animal 5,804,106 9,607,627 -39.6 2,741 3 2,118 45,471,728 Sony
8 Moulin Rouge 5,030,265 7,649,148 -34.2 2,084 5 2,414 36,629,874 Fox
9 What's the Worst That Could Happen? 3,007,054 5,476,007 -45.1 1,927 3 1,560 27,723,009 MGM
10 The Mummy Returns 2,701,040 4,700,130 -42.5 1,777 7 1,520 193,482,730 Universal
11 Memento 733,629 741,004 -1.0 398 14 1,843 18,425,029 Newmarket
12 A Knight's Tale 715,671 1,702,336 -58.0 925 6 774 54,286,466 Sony
13 Bridget Jones's Diary 696,696 1,145,298 -39.2 666 10 1,046 68,676,698 Miramax
14 With a Friend Like Harry 384,677 183,734 109.4 220 9 1,749 2,537,973 Miramax
15 Lagaan 285,368 34 1 8,393 285,368 SET India
16 Along Came a Spider 194,537 301,234 -35.4 308 11 632 72,752,488 Paramount
17 The Anniversary Party 193,816 158,533 22.3 16 2 12,114 432,339 Fine Line
18 Sexy Beast 170,356 9 1 18,928 214,580 Fox Searchlight
19 O Brother Where Art Thou? 166,797 240,123 -30.5 274 26 609 44,938,980 Buena Vista
20 The Golden Bowl 162,676 135,360 20.2 101 8 1,611 1,968,017 Lions Gate
Top 5 $ 103,844,063 $ 72,403,081 43.4
Top 10 127,001,747 93,076,000 36.4
Top 20 130,705,970 96,095,825 36.0
Top 20 vs. 2000 130,705,970 101,533,271 28.7

Last Updated : June 18, 2001 at 8:45PM EDT