Weekend Box Office (July 12 - 14, 2002)

THIS WEEKEND Holding a firm grip on the number one spot for the second straight weekend was the sci-fi sequel Men in Black II which faced stiff competition from a quartet of new releases. The freshman class played to diverse audience tastes and collectively injected $60M into the marketplace led by the muscular bow of the Tom Hanks gangster drama Road to Perdition. Both the futuristic actioner Reign of Fire and the horror sequel Halloween: Resurrection delivered solid bows while the family comedy The Crocodile Hunter enjoyed a more modest debut.

Agents J and K and their talking pug Frank grossed $24.4M for MIB2 in its second round of play, according to final studio figures, and boosted the 12-day cume to $132.7M. The Sony franchise pic crumbled 53% - a large drop, but understandable for a heavily-hyped sequel. Playing in 3,611 theaters, the PG-13 flick averaged $6,760 per location. Men in Black II was produced for a reported $140M (plus profit participation from principal talent) and looks to reach $190-200M from its domestic run. The original Men in Black, by comparison, dropped 41% in its second weekend and grossed $250.1M in the summer of 1997.

Tom Hanks gunned down second place with Road to Perdition which opened fire with $22.1M from only 1,797 theaters. The DreamWorks/Fox co-production averaged a sizzling $12,287 per venue and will expand into a few hundred more theaters next weekend. Directed by Sam Mendes, the Oscar-winning helmer of American Beauty, the R-rated Perdition stars Hanks as a 1930s mobster who rethinks his life of crime after the killings of his wife and youngest son. Paul Newman, Jude Law, and Jennifer Jason Leigh also star.

DreamWorks spent considerably less on prints and advertising than other studios have for their high-profile summer films. Rather than saturating the marketplace with screens and throwing ad dollars at every available media outlet, the studio relied on the strength of the cast and the overwhelmingly glowing critical reviews to attract ticket buyers. And it worked just as planned as the potential Oscar candidate generated the weekend's best per-theater average by far and also witnessed a very strong 32% Friday-to-Saturday increase.

"We planned to do a fall release pattern in the summer and with strong word-of-mouth, we expect to be in it for the long haul," remarked studio distribution president Jim Tharp. For Hanks, Perdition opened better than his most recent R-rated drama The Green Mile which bowed in December 1999 with $18M and a $6,267 average. Perdition also delivered an opening average close to that of 1998's Saving Private Ryan (another R-rated Hanks drama released by DreamWorks in July) which earned $12,414 per location in its debut.

Mature adults were the primary audience for Perdition with the studio reporting that exit polls showed the crowd split evenly between those over and under the age of 35. Most demographic surveys divide moviegoers between those over and under 25 so the choice to go with the higher age categories represents a much older audience. Males and females were evenly split. Patrons polled by CinemaScore.com gave the drama a good B+ grade. With such a promising start, Road to Perdition should enjoy a long road ahead and could give Hanks his twelfth $100M blockbuster, once again proving why he is the most bankable star in Hollywood.

Opening in third place with $15.6M was the effects-heavy dragon tale Reign of Fire starring Matthew McConaughey and Christian Bale. The PG-13 action-adventure about fire-breathing beasts who attack humanity unleashed its rage in 2,629 theaters and averaged a solid $5,946. Moviegoers polled by CinemaScore.com gave the young male-skewing film a decent B grade.

The new slasher flick Halloween: Resurrection opened in fourth place with $12.3M from 1,954 theaters. Averaging a strong $6,291, the R-rated slasher movie stars Jamie Lee Curtis, Busta Rhymes, and Tyra Banks. Miramax unleashed the eighth installment of the popular horror movie franchise four years after the previous pic, Halloween: H20, which opened much wider in 2,607 theaters in August 1998 with a three-day gross of $16.2M and a five-day tally of $24.8M. The $13M Resurrection received a B+ grade from CinemaScore.com.

Adam Sandler's latest comic endeavor Mr. Deeds dipped 41% to $10.8M in its third weekend and upped its cume to $94M in just 17 days. The Sony release now stands as the comedian's third highest-grossing film after Big Daddy ($163.5M) and The Waterboy ($161.5M) and is likely to remain there. Look for Mr. Deeds to eventually climb to $120-130M.

The zany adventurer Steve Irwin made his big-screen debut in sixth place with the feature The Crocodile Hunter: Collision Course which opened with $9.5M. Playing in 2,525 theaters, the MGM title averaged a mediocre $3,777 per playdate. The opening average was in the same neighborhood as last year's Aussie-influenced family comedy Crocodile Dundee in Los Angeles which opened with $7.7M from 2,123 theaters averaging $3,634. Crocodile Hunter was also a PG film and the least violent of this weekend's four new release. CinemaScore.com audiences gave the film a B+. With a reported $12M budget, the studio should still find its way to profitability.

In its fourth weekend, Disney's animated comedy Lilo & Stitch grossed $8M for a 37% decline. With $118.4M in the bank, the Hawaiian toon should find its way to about $140M. The basketball comedy Like Mike dropped a reasonable 36% in its second weekend and placed eighth with $7.8M. After 12 days, the Fox release has grossed a solid $32.8M and looks to reach $50-55M domestically. Like Mike was produced for approximately $30M.

Tom Cruise and Steven Spielberg found themselves in ninth place with Minority Report which fell 43% to $7.2M. The futuristic cop thriller has arrested $110.1M to date and should retire with around $130M. Rounding out the top ten was Universal's The Bourne Identity with $5.8M, off 37%, pushing its cume to $99M. The Matt Damon film will join the century club later this week and should end its run with roughly $115M.

Still attracting solid business in its 12th weekend was the independent comedy smash My Big Fat Greek Wedding which grossed $2.2M from 495 theaters for a blushing $4,505 average. Off only 11%, the IFC Films release has lifted its total to an amazing $27M with many more drachmas still to collect. The PG-rated comedy has already outgrossed last year's indie hit Memento which took in $25.5M at the same time of year with 531 theaters at its widest point of distribution. Wedding should surpass the $30M mark next weekend giving it a better domestic gross than expensive Hollywood films like Bad Company and Hart's War. With its incredible durability, Wedding's registry may even fatten up enough to surpass the $40M mark.

Four films dropped out of the top ten over the weekend. Scooby Doo tumbled 47% to $3.7M in its fifth frame and boosted its cume to $145M. The $80M kidpic has given Warner Bros. a new franchise and should reach about $155M stateside. Failing to give the studio a franchise, The Powerpuff Girls fell sharply in its sophomore weekend and has grossed just $9.6M in 12 days. Look for a $12-14M final gross, but a more successful run on home video.

Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood, another Warner title, has taken in just $64.7M thus far and should end with roughly $68-70M. The Sandra Bullock pic carries a $27M pricetag. Paramount's $68M political actioner The Sum of All Fears has collected $115.1M to date and looks to finish with about $120M.

The top ten films grossed $123.6M which was up 20% from last year when Legally Blonde opened at number one with $20.4M; but down 12% from 2000 when X-Men powered its way to the top spot with $54.5M.

Compared to projections, Road to Perdition and Reign of Fire nearly flip-flopped my forecasts of $15M and $22M. Both Halloween: Resurrection and The Crocodile Hunter opened very close to my respective predictions of $11M and $9M.

Take this week's NEW Reader Survey on Harrison Ford's new action film K-19: The Widowmaker. In last week's survey, readers were asked to pick which of this weekend's four new releases would have the largest opening. Of 1,643 responses, 40% selected Reign of Fire, 28% correctly picked Road to Perdition, 27% said Halloween: Resurrection, and 5% went with The Crocodile Hunter.

For a review of Road to Perdition visit The Chief Report.

Be sure to check back on Thursday for a complete summary, including projections, for next weekend when K-19, Stuart Little 2, and Eight-Legged Freaks all open.

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

# Title Jul 12 - 14 Jul 5 - 7 % Chg. Theaters Weeks AVG Cumulative Distributor
1 Men in Black II $ 24,410,311 $ 52,148,751 -53.2 3,611 2 $ 6,760 $ 132,688,511 Sony
2 Road to Perdition 22,079,481 1,797 1 12,287 22,079,481 DreamWorks
3 Reign of Fire 15,632,281 2,629 1 5,946 15,632,281 Buena Vista
4 Halloween: Resurrection 12,292,121 1,954 1 6,291 12,292,121 Miramax
5 Mr. Deeds 10,842,415 18,411,597 -41.1 3,239 3 3,347 93,975,613 Sony
6 The Crocodile Hunter 9,537,123 2,525 1 3,777 9,537,123 MGM
7 Lilo & Stitch 8,024,738 12,636,421 -36.5 2,940 4 2,730 118,411,367 Buena Vista
8 Like Mike 7,833,279 12,179,420 -35.7 2,436 2 3,216 32,819,934 Fox
9 Minority Report 7,216,069 12,556,624 -42.5 2,419 4 2,983 110,137,457 Fox
10 The Bourne Identity 5,761,380 9,156,240 -37.1 2,199 5 2,620 99,026,945 Universal
11 Scooby Doo 3,727,265 7,022,624 -46.9 2,475 5 1,506 144,968,035 Warner Bros.
12 My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2,230,158 2,508,748 -11.1 495 12 4,505 27,031,170 IFC Films
13 The Sum of All Fears 1,922,030 3,715,435 -48.3 1,150 7 1,671 115,054,683 Paramount
14 The Powerpuff Girls 1,587,450 3,583,114 -55.7 2,210 2 718 9,589,131 Warner Bros.
15 Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood 1,503,373 2,814,943 -46.6 1,107 6 1,358 64,707,667 Warner Bros.
16 Star Wars Episode II 1,281,757 2,450,654 -47.7 632 9 2,028 293,817,404 Fox
17 Windtalkers 1,187,328 1,769,971 -32.9 1,485 5 800 38,645,492 MGM
18 Spider-Man 890,372 2,204,636 -59.6 574 11 1,551 401,991,818 Sony
19 Space Station 646,577 724,306 -10.7 60 13 10,776 13,569,489 Imax
20 Hey Arnold! The Movie 610,028 2,008,222 -69.6 2,021 3 302 12,641,276 Paramount
Top 5 $ 85,256,609 $ 107,932,813 -21.0
Top 10 123,629,198 134,225,169 -7.9
Top 20 139,215,536 148,712,952 -6.4
Top 20 vs. 2001 139,215,536 117,563,948 18.4

Last Updated : July 16, 2002 at 1:30AM EDT