Weekend Box Office (June 22 - 24, 2001)

THIS WEEKEND Universal left the competition in the dust with the surprisingly powerful number one opening of The Fast and the Furious while Fox claimed the runnerup spot with its new family comedy Dr. Dolittle 2. With moviegoers spending a staggering $108M on the top five films alone, the box office delivered the largest June weekend in history.

Taking the top spot with ease, the street racing picture The Fast and the Furious opened with a stellar $40.1M, according to final studio figures. Playing in 2,628 theaters, the PG-13 picture averaged a scorching $15,255 beating the opening average of Lara Croft: Tomb Raider from last weekend. Directed by Rob Cohen, the testosterone flick featured a cast of rising stars like Paul Walker, Vin Diesel, Michelle Rodriguez, Rick Yune, and rapper Ja Rule and featured a hot soundtrack filled with rock and hip hop music.

Not surprisingly, young men were the primary audience. According to Universal's exit polls, 55% of the audience was male and a whopping 76% were under the age of 25. The racially diverse cast helped drive sales from various ethnic groups too. Patrons polled by CinemaScore gave the action picture an overall B grade with those under 21 give it an encouraging A-.

With no major stars or special effects, the negative cost for The Fast and the Furious came in at $38M which is relatively low for a movie that opens at this level. Universal originally slated the picture for a spring release but bumped it into the prime summer season after overwhelmingly favorable responses at early test screenings. With young people getting out of school, and many already seeing Tomb Raider, The Fast and the Furious became the only movie for them to see this weekend. Universal reported a Friday opening of $15.2M, a 9% decline on Saturday to $13.8M, and a 20% drop to $11.1M on Sunday.

Eddie Murphy landed in second place with his comedy sequel Dr. Dolittle 2 which opened with $25M. Playing in 3,049 theaters, the Fox release averaged a strong $8,212 per venue. The talking animal picture played mostly to a family audience, according to Bruce Snyder, the studio's distribution president. "We're delighted to do this well with Atlantis and Shrek still in the marketplace," he noted.

Produced for $70M, Dr. Dolittle 2 debuted a bit below the $29M launch of its predecessor, 1998's Doctor Dolittle, which went on to gross $144.1M domestically and over $290M worldwide. For Fox, Dr. Dolittle 2 represents the company's biggest hit so far this year. Fox is the only major studio without a number one opener in 2001 and ranks last in market share among the big distributors.

Last weekend's box office champ, the Paramount action-adventure film Lara Croft: Tomb Raider, tumbled 59% to $19.8M in its second weekend taking third place. Still, the Angelina Jolie franchise picture has grossed $83.8M in only ten days and looks set to reach $130-140M in North America. Tomb Raider's large decline can be attributed to much of its built-in audience coming out on the opening weekend and to the arrival of The Fast and the Furious which took away the core group of teens and young adults.

In its second weekend of wide release, Disney's Atlantis: The Lost Empire fell 38% to $12.6M giving the animated adventure film $43.7M overall. The decline was larger than for recent animated features the studio has released in mid-June like Tarzan and Mulan which dipped 30% and 25%, respectively, in their sophomore frames. With a reported budget of $90-100M, Atlantis seems on course for a final domestic haul of up to $90M.

Experiencing the smallest decline in the top ten once again, the DreamWorks juggernaut Shrek gobbled up $10.4M dipping a mere 21%. Now in its sixth weekend, the animated smash has grossed $215.2M. By comparison, total grosses after the sixth weekend for The Lion King and Toy Story 2 were $218.6M and $208.9M respectively. On Monday, Shrek should surpass the $216.3M take of Saving Private Ryan to become the top-grossing domestic release in DreamWorks history. Shrek now sits at number 29 on the list of all-time domestic blockbusters right after last year's Mission: Impossible 2 which took in $215.4M.

The action thriller Swordfish fell 39% to $7.7M in its third weekend and raised its total to $53.2M. Buena Vista's Pearl Harbor enjoyed a 31% decline and grossed $6.8M putting its cume at $171.9M. Slipping only 23% to $3.9M was Fox's prostitute picture Moulin Rouge which has brought in $43.4M to date.

Rounding out the top ten with 50% declines were the DreamWorks/Sony sci-fi flick Evolution and Sony's comedy The Animal with $3.3M and $2.9M respectively. Totals stand at $32.3M and $51.2M.

Fox Searchlight's Sexy Beast continues to be the darling of the arthouse world grossing $611,067 in its second weekend after expanding from 9 to 57 theaters. With $932,562 in 12 days, the Ben Kingsley picture averaged a potent $10,720 and will widen to over 100 locations on Friday.

Opening impressively in New York and Los Angeles was the German film The Princess and the Warrior with $51,426 from three theaters. Averaging $17,142 per site, the Sony Classics release reteams director Tom Tykwer and actress Franka Potente from Run Lola Run.

Two films dropped out of the top ten over the weekend. Universal's franchise hit The Mummy Returns took in $1.6M lifting its cume to a towering $196.2M putting it at number 36 on the all-time domestic blockbusters list. Budgeted at $98M, the Brendan Fraser adventure film should finish with roughly $200M in North America and has already grossed over $350M worldwide. Martin Lawrence and Danny Devito saw sales of their comedy What's the Worst That Could Happen? tumble as the MGM release collected $1.2M in its fourth weekend. Produced for $42M, Worst has brought in $30.3M to date and should top out at $32-34M.

Compared to projections, The Fast and the Furious blasted ahead of my $18M forecast while Dr. Dolittle 2 came in well below my $35M prediction.

The top ten films grossed $132.5M which was up a sizable 41% from last year when Me, Myself, and Irene opened in the top spot with $24.2M; and up 6% from 1999 when Big Daddy debuted at number one with $41.5M.

Take this week's NEW Reader Survey on Steven Spielberg's A.I. In last week's survey, readers were asked which of four factors most influences their desire to see a movie. Of 2,654 responses, 43% said advertising, 30% stated reviews from critics, 16% picked recommendations from friends, and 12% said box office success.

Read the Weekly Rewind column which looks back at June 1993 when Spielberg set a new opening weekend record with Jurassic Park. For reviews of The Fast and the Furious and Dr. Dolittle 2 visit The Chief Report.

Be sure to check back on Thursday for a complete summary, including projections, for next weekend when A.I., Baby Boy, Crazy/Beautiful, and Pootie Tang all open.

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

# Title June 22 - 24 June 15 - 17 % Chg. Theaters Weeks AVG Cumulative Dist.
1 The Fast and the Furious $ 40,089,015 2,628 1 $ 15,255 $ 40,089,015 Universal
2 Dr. Dolittle 2 25,037,039 3,049 1 8,212 25,037,039 Fox
3 Lara Croft: Tomb Raider 19,786,356 47,735,743 -58.6 3,312 2 5,974 83,820,442 Paramount
4 Atlantis: The Lost Empire 12,586,394 20,342,105 -38.1 3,071 3 4,098 43,693,117 Buena Vista
5 Shrek 10,405,731 13,181,576 -21.1 3,007 6 3,461 215,232,017 DreamWorks
6 Swordfish 7,718,758 12,725,519 -39.3 2,660 3 2,902 53,229,341 Warner Bros.
7 Pearl Harbor 6,818,896 9,859,120 -30.8 2,668 5 2,556 171,886,718 Buena Vista
8 Moulin Rouge 3,851,923 5,030,265 -23.4 1,585 6 2,430 43,433,722 Fox
9 Evolution 3,287,925 6,615,219 -50.3 2,258 3 1,456 32,320,026 DreamWorks
10 The Animal 2,911,346 5,804,106 -49.8 2,228 4 1,307 51,237,870 Sony
11 The Mummy Returns 1,570,745 2,701,040 -41.8 1,118 8 1,405 196,209,370 Universal
12 What's the Worst That Could Happen? 1,161,885 3,007,054 -61.4 1,110 4 1,047 30,284,635 MGM
13 Memento 722,435 733,629 -1.5 326 15 2,216 19,574,122 Newmarket
14 Sexy Beast 611,067 170,356 258.7 57 2 10,720 932,562 Fox Searchlight
15 The Anniversary Party 604,493 193,816 211.9 85 3 7,112 1,136,865 Fine Line
16 Bridget Jones's Diary 578,980 696,696 -16.9 464 11 1,248 69,683,147 Miramax
17 With a Friend Like Harry 338,517 384,677 -12.0 218 10 1,553 3,045,065 Miramax
18 A Knight's Tale 278,946 715,671 -61.0 312 7 894 55,001,689 Sony
19 Lagaan 238,148 285,368 -16.5 34 2 7,004 594,585 SET India
20 Crocodile Dundee in LA 214,870 100,651 113.5 358 10 600 24,984,411 Paramount
Top 5 $ 107,904,535 $ 103,844,063 3.9
Top 10 132,493,383 127,001,747 4.3
Top 20 138,813,469 130,705,970 6.2
Top 20 vs. 2000 138,813,469 102,073,802 36.0

Last Updated : June 25, 2001 at 8:45PM EDT