Weekend Box Office (June 23 - 25, 2000)

THIS WEEKEND Twentieth Century Fox hit the number one spot at the box office with Jim Carrey's new comedy Me, Myself, and Irene. The clay animation film Chicken Run enjoyed a solid opening in the runnerup spot, but overall business failed to reach last year's record levels for the third consecutive weekend.

After a two-year absence, Jim Carrey returned to the familiar number one position with Me, Myself, and Irene which opened with $24.2M, according to final studio figures. Landing in 3,019 theaters, the story about a man with two personalities both in love with the same woman averaged a steamy $8,019 per location. While enjoying the widest launch of his career, Irene's debut only ranks as the fifth biggest for the talented comic behind the franchise film Batman Forever ($52.8M), Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls ($37.8M), The Truman Show ($31.5M), and Liar, Liar ($31.4M). Though not one of his greatest achievements, Irene's bow did bounce back from the $7.5M debut of Carrey's last film, the box office dud Man on the Moon.

Me, Myself, and Irene reunited Carrey with directors Bobby and Peter Farrelly, the men responsible for the gross-out comedy blockbusters Dumb and Dumber and There's Something About Mary. The film's R-rating, however, may have cut into potential sales as Carrey comedies traditionally do well with young teens. In fact the largest openings for R-rated comedies in recent years have been $20.4M for Life, starring Eddie Murphy and Martin Lawrence, and $18.7M for the teen sex pic American Pie.

Saturday sales increased a moderate 14% over Friday for Irene. Fox distribution chief Tom Sherak noted that males and females were evenly split and that the highest recommendation levels came from young men. Produced for $52M, the romantic comedy will try to utilize the upcoming Independence Day weekend to generate an impressive 12-day start.

Coming in with a strong second place showing was the new clay animation feature Chicken Run with $17.5M in sales. DreamWorks released the G-rated family film in 2,491 theaters and averaged a superb $7,028 per venue. Produced by the creators of the Oscar-winning Wallace and Gromit shorts, Chicken Run tells the story of a group of hens trying to escape from their evil owner who plans to cook them into pies. Mel Gibson provides the main voice in the DreamWorks release which opened similarly to the studio's Antz. Like Chicken Run, Antz was also an animated film with humor that connected with older audiences. It debuted in October 1998 with $17.2M from 2,449 theaters in a much less competitive environment.

According to DreamWorks distribution head Jim Tharp, 60% of Chicken Run's audience consisted of families. Playing just like last weekend's sneak previews, the critically-acclaimed British toon had 85-90% of patrons calling it "excellent" or "very good" and nearly 85% said they would definitely recommend it to others. Tharp added that Saturday sales jumped an encouraging 29% from $5.26M to $6.79M indicating terrific word-of-mouth for the $42M film. By comparison, Disney's most recent June animated offerings, Tarzan and Mulan, experienced smaller Friday-to-Saturday increases during their opening weekends. With Dinosaur launching in mid-May, DreamWorks capitalized on the open slot by launching Chicken Run right as schools were letting out for summer. The studio will add another 300-400 locations on Friday just in time for the long Fourth of July holiday weekend.

After a red hot May that saw sizzling debuts for Gladiator, Dinosaur, and Mission: Impossible 2, this month has cooled off as moviegoers have not found June's menu of movies as appetizing. For the third consecutive weekend, the overall box office fell significantly below year-ago levels. Alarmingly, no film this month has opened north of $26M signalling a recent lack of event movies. In June 1999, Tarzan premiered with $34.2M, Big Daddy debuted with $41.5M, and the Austin Powers sequel exploded with $57.4M. Higher ticket prices and more available screens have helped this year's cumulative box office reach a record pace, but with a mild June, much of those gains have already been wiped away. The industry can really use some commercial fireworks over the upcoming holiday weekend to rebuild momentum and get consumers back into moviegoing mode.

After a top spot debut last weekend, Shaft dropped 42% to $12.7M for third place. The Samuel L. Jackson action pic has collected a solid $42.4M in ten days and may finish with up to $80M. Produced for $45M, the Paramount release is likely to become an impressive moneymaker after global theatrical and home video revenues are added up making it a prime candidate for a sequel.

Nicolas Cage slipped to fourth with the car heist film Gone in 60 Seconds which collected $9.5M in its third weekend. With a 17-day cume of $68.9M, the Jerry Bruckheimer actioner has attracted stellar midweek business and should eventually steal $90-100M from moviegoers.

Off a slender 27%, Big Momma's House placed fifth with $8.5M in its fourth frame. Despite the arrival of another major comedy this weekend, the Martin Lawrence hit managed to suffer the smallest decline of its run. Fox distribution chief Tom Sherak attributes the impressive hold to the film now reaching family audiences. "It's wonderful to watch a film open one way and then crossover to other groups as the weeks go by," he added.

The two big guns of summer followed with Mission: Impossible 2 taking in $7.6M for sixth place and Gladiator grossing $3.9M for seventh. The Tom Cruise blockbuster fell just 33% and gave the actor the biggest hit of his career with $188.9M to date. The $200M barrier could crumble by July 4th. Meanwhile, the Russell Crowe behemoth continued to show strong legs dipping just 28% and tallying $165.4M in its eighth weekend. Universal, Gladiator's overseas distributor, reported that international sales surpassed $145M giving the battle picture a mighty worldwide cume of $310M and counting.

Proving to be the second humans-versus-aliens space flop of the summer, Titan A.E. plunged 60% in its second weekend to $3.7M. After ten days, the expensive Fox release has grossed a disappointing $16.9M. The PG-rated animated film carried a production cost ranging from $75-90M and was backed by a massive marketing campaign that aimed to make it a top choice for kids on summer vacation. But moviegoers were not very excited by Titan A.E. which looks to finish its domestic run with roughly $25M.

Disney's own summer animated entry, Dinosaur, placed ninth with $3.3M in its sixth weekend. Off a hefty 44%, the prehistoric tale has reached $126.8M and should reach $140M prior to theatrical extinction. The teen comedy Boys and Girls tumbled 54% in its sophomore frame to $3.2M. With $14.2M in ten days, the Miramax title should conclude with around $20M.

Fantasia 2000 dropped an alarming 49% in its second weekend of wide release taking in only $1.5M. Adding in ticket sales from its hugely successful IMAX run earlier this year, the lavish animated film has grossed $55.6M so far this year.

Paramount Classics expanded the Ralph Fiennes drama Sunshine from 8 to 58 theaters and collected $349,531. The historical saga averaged a solid $6,026 and has pushed its total to $602,539.

A pair of May titles fell out of the top ten over the weekend. Buena Vista's Shanghai Noon brought in $2M pushing its cume to $51.7M. The Jackie Chan action-comedy should finish with $55-58M domestically. The college sex comedy Road Trip fell 51% to $1.5M in its sixth session upping its cume to $63.6M. Produced for only $15M, the DreamWorks release has been a very profitable early summer entry and seems likely to end off with $65-67M.

Compared to projections, Me, Myself, and Irene did not reach my $30M forecast but Chicken Run came in very close to my $18M prediction. Shaft and Gone in 60 Seconds were both near my respective projections of $14M and $9M.

Take this week's NEW Reader Survey on whether The Patriot or The Perfect Storm will have the bigger opening weekend. In last week's survey, readers were asked which of three upcoming sequels they were looking forward to the most. Of 4,027 responses, 64% picked Star Wars Episode II, 30% voted for The Matrix 2, and only 6% selected The Mummy 2.

Be sure to read the Weekly Rewind column which examines the box office record of Jim Carrey. For reviews of both Me, Myself, and Irene and Chicken Run visit The Chief Report.

The top ten films over the weekend grossed $94.1M which was down a worrysome 25% from last year when Big Daddy debuted in the top spot with $41.5M, and down 5% from 1998 when Doctor Dolittle opened at number one with $29M.

Be sure to check back on Thursday for a complete summary, including projections, for next weekend's holiday frame when The Patriot, The Perfect Storm, and The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle all open.

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

# Title June 23 - 25 June 16 - 18 % Chg. Theaters Weeks AVG Cumulative Dist.
1 Me, Myself, and Irene $ 24,209,385 3,019 1 $ 8,019 $ 24,209,385 Fox
2 Chicken Run 17,506,162 2,491 1 7,028 17,602,088 DreamWorks
3 Shaft 12,707,835 21,714,757 -41.5 2,407 2 5,280 42,350,334 Paramount
4 Gone in 60 Seconds 9,452,195 14,896,031 -36.5 3,089 3 3,060 68,858,636 Buena Vista
5 Big Momma's House 8,548,299 11,686,558 -26.9 2,846 4 3,004 85,225,503 Fox
6 Mission: Impossible 2 7,588,416 11,362,008 -33.2 3,245 5 2,338 188,889,787 Paramount
7 Gladiator 3,851,924 5,362,293 -28.2 1,812 8 2,126 165,436,188 DreamWorks
8 Titan A.E. 3,735,300 9,376,845 -60.2 2,775 2 1,346 16,892,249 Fox
9 Dinosaur 3,258,118 5,863,092 -44.4 2,248 6 1,449 126,817,484 Buena Vista
10 Boys and Girls 3,230,493 7,008,950 -53.9 1,989 2 1,624 14,193,273 Miramax
11 Shanghai Noon 2,012,696 3,792,622 -46.9 1,559 5 1,291 51,743,113 Buena Vista
12 Road Trip 1,528,133 3,091,860 -50.6 1,468 6 1,041 63,580,117 DreamWorks
13 Fantasia 2000 1,477,958 2,911,485 -49.2 1,313 2 1,126 55,592,861 Buena Vista
14 Small Time Crooks 556,705 941,650 -40.9 463 6 1,202 15,718,730 DreamWorks
15 Frequency 519,947 879,702 -40.9 527 9 987 42,662,407 New Line
16 U-571 503,190 688,025 -26.9 544 10 925 74,962,935 Universal
17 Michael Jordan to the MAX 408,392 443,181 -7.8 49 8 8,335 5,670,258 Giant Screen
18 Sunshine 349,531 86,638 303.4 58 3 6,026 602,539 Par. Classics
19 The Flintstones in Viva Rock Vegas 316,235 393,370 -19.6 506 9 625 33,311,555 Universal
20 Croupier 312,888 206,848 51.3 92 10 3,401 1,527,703 Shoot. Gallery
Top 5 $ 72,423,876 $ 69,036,199 4.9
Top 10 94,088,127 94,155,016 -0.1
Top 20 102,073,802 101,533,271 0.5
Top 20 vs. 1999 102,073,802 129,002,032 -20.9

Last Updated : June 26 at 9:45PM EDT

Written by Gitesh Pandya