Weekend Box Office (July 4 - 6, 1997)

Men In BlackTHIS WEEKEND Once again, moviegoers spent the Fourth of July weekend watching American heroes defending Earth from nasty aliens. Sony's Men In Black crushed all other titles with an amazing opening of $51.1M over the three-day weekend and $84.1M between Tuesday night sneak previews and Sunday night. This picture was aimed at the same audience that propelled Fox's Independence Day to a $50.3M opening last year and it hit the bullseye. However during the same Tuesday night through Sunday period in 1996, ID4 was able to collect $96.1M which is $12M more than MIB's long weekend haul. Still, with a mammoth opening like this, and good word-of-mouth, MIB has millions more waiting to be collected and international prospects also look bright. It should have no problem grossing at least $500M worldwide.

Mr. JonesMr. SmithThe success of Men In Black has much to do with the rising starpower of 28-year-old Will Smith. He defines "young", "hip", and "cool" which makes him a hot commodity in Hollywood. His drawing power is what attracted the audience, more than that of Tommy Lee Jones, director Barry Sonnenfeld, or the Marvel comic from which the movie was based on. Look for his asking price to skyrocket after the performance of MIB. Overall, the debut was more than my projection of $35-40M. Other huge Fourth of July weekend openings this decade include 1991's Terminator 2 ($31.8M), 1993's The Firm ($32.5M), and 1995's Apollo 13 ($25.4M). For a review of Men In Black, visit Sujit Chawla's Movie Review Page.

Also opening over the weekend were Out to Sea with $5.9M and Wild America with $1.8M. The opening for Sea is not spectacular but it is too early to call it disappointing. Grumpy Old Men and its sequel Grumpier Old Men opened to $3.9M and $7.8M respectively and played well over many weeks during their winter months of release. America, however, fell flat on its face as its target audience was too busy watching MIB. Here is an example of how not to counter-program.

Elsewhere, Face Off stayed strong dropping only 31% to number two but Hercules was hit hard by the release of MIB as its receipts tumbled by 43%. My Best Friend's Wedding surprised nobody by holding on well, dipping only 28% - the smallest decline in the top ten. With Wedding and MIB in theaters and Air Force One set to fly in three weeks, Sony plans to win the market share crown for the summer box office of 1997. The summer season has been horrible to them recently. Their last successful summer was in 1993 with such Columbia/Tristar hits as Cliffhanger ($84M), Sleepless in Seattle ($126.5M), and In The Line of Fire ($102.3M).

Both Batman & Robin and Speed 2 continued to fall hard while Con Air kept depreciating at a respectable 35% pace. After this summer, Hollywood might learn to stop making unnecessary sequels. Overall the top ten films grossed $113.8M - down 5% from last year and up 31% from 1995.

# Title Jul 4 - 6 Jun 27 - 29 % Chg. Cumulative
1 Men in Black $ 51,068,455 $ 84,133,900
2 Face Off 16,067,233 23,387,530 -31.3 51,521,285
3 Hercules 12,193,152 21,454,451 -43.2 50,030,540
4 My Best Friend's Wedding 10,818,090 15,016,921 -28.0 69,281,429
5 Batman & Robin 8,027,257 15,735,702 -49.0 90,716,119
6 Out to Sea 5,887,675 7,655,948
7 Con Air 3,791,861 5,898,935 -35.7 85,073,453
8 The Lost World 2,604,420 4,536,180 -42.6 218,334,199
9 Wild America 1,810,586 2,875,117
10 Speed 2 1,517,680 3,726,336 -59.3 41,113,064
Top 5 98,174,187 81,493,539 20.5
Top 10 113,786,409 92,363,542 23.2

    This column is updated three times a week : Friday (upcoming weekend's summary), Sunday night (post-weekend analysis with estimates), and Monday night (actuals). Source : Variety, EDI.

    Last Updated : July 7, 1997