Weekend Box Office (July 14 - 16, 2000)

THIS WEEKEND For the third time in a row, a blockbuster film shattered expectations as X-Men leaped into the number one spot with a record-breaking bow helping ticket sales surge well ahead of year-ago levels. Led by the Marvel superheroes, the overall box office reached one of its highest levels ever for a non-holiday frame.

Fox set the box office on fire with the launch of its newest franchise as its comic book-based action film X-Men enjoyed a colossal opening with a towering $54.5M in ticket sales, according to final studio figures. The superhero adventure tale claimed the sixth biggest opening in history and the largest ever for a non-sequel. Attacking 3,025 theaters, X-Men averaged a staggering $18,007 per venue. Bryan Singer (The Usual Suspects) directed the $75M production which assembled a variety of recognizable, but not always bankable, actors including Patrick Stewart, Ian McKellen, Halle Berry, and Rebecca Romijn-Stamos. Based on the wildly popular Marvel comic, X-Men features a band of mutant heroes protecting the world from mutant villains aiming to dispose of humans.

With quality Batman and Star Trek films absent from theaters recently, the large comic book/sci-fi crowd finally had an event to rally behind which helped generate the eye-popping premiere of X-Men. Plus, Fox planted itself on the July 14th date forcing all others to stay away thereby making the film the weekend's only new release. It easily set a new July opening weekend record beating the $51.1M launch of 1997's Men in Black plus enjoyed the third best opening day ever with $21.2M on Friday. Saturday sales dipped 8% which is not surprising considering that the young and sizable fan base was more likely to rush out on its first day of release.

The table below lists the top six opening weekends in history. The grosses only represent Friday-to-Sunday and do not include any Thursday night sneak previews or Monday holiday sales.

Title Fri-Sun ($M) Theaters AVG ($) Release
The Lost World 72.1 3281 21,985 May 97
Star Wars Episode I 64.8 2970 21,822 May 99
Mission: Impossible 2 57.8 3653 15,835 May 00
Toy Story 2 57.4 3236 17,734 Nov 99
Austin Powers 2 54.9 3312 16,581 Jun 99
X-Men 54.5 3025 18,007 Jul 00

According to Tom Sherak, head of 20th Century Fox Domestic Film Group, X-Men attracted spectacular exit polls across the board with 75% saying they would definitely recommend it. The audience was evenly split by age with half of those polled under 25, but males outnumbered females nearly two-to-one. "It's a huge comic book property, the storyline is great, there's an attractive cast, and a really good director which made for a terrific action movie for all moviegoers," said Sherak describing its enormous appeal. X-Men also delivered a powerful number one debut in Australia this weekend registering the third best opening of the year. The superhero squadron invades Singapore and Malaysia later this month followed by August bows in the United Kingdom, Germany, France, Brazil, and Taiwan.

The mammoth debut of X-Men should also be terrific news for the many other Marvel comic characters currently being developed into feature films. Spiderman, Silver Surfer, and Daredevil are just some of the properties being worked on which could now be put on the fast track given the size of the audience. Regardless of when those characters pounce on the big screen, a sequel for X-Men is already planned.

After a hair-raising debut at number one last weekend, Miramax's Scary Movie stepped back into the runnerup position with a hefty $26.2M in its sophomore frame. Down 38%, the spoof comedy has amassed a spectacular $89.1M in only ten days. At its current rate of depreciation, the $19M gem could find its way into the neighborhood of $150-160M by the end of its domestic run with overseas theatrical and worldwide home video adding even more to the profitable pot.

Scary Movie will easily become the highest-grossing film in Miramax history and one of the top R-rated comedies ever. Timing has been crucial to the success of the Keenen Ivory Wayans-directed picture as the daring comedy entered the marketplace at a time when its target audience of teens and twentysomethings had very few event films made specifically for them.

Washing ashore with $17.1M, the disaster-at-sea thriller The Perfect Storm took third place and watched its 17-day cume rise to a massive $128.5M. Down a moderate 37% from last weekend, the Warner Bros. action film could eventually dock with $170-180M domestically.

Sony's top-grossing title of the year, The Patriot, claimed fourth place with $10.6M in its third weekend. Off only 31%, the Mel Gibson historical drama has taken in a stellar $82.8M in 19 days and could reach nine figures by the end of the month. Both The Perfect Storm and The Patriot will have increased competition for adults next weekend when Harrison Ford and Michelle Pfeiffer hit theaters in the suspense thriller What Lies Beneath from Oscar-winning director Robert Zemeckis.

A pair of popular family films followed as Disney's The Kid placed fifth with $10.5M and DreamWorks' Chicken Run slipped to sixth with $7.9M. The Bruce Willis comedy added 153 more theaters helping it ease just 18% for a ten-day total of $30M. The clay animation hit declined by only 20%, raising its cume to a tasty $77M, and should cross the $100M hurdle next month. DreamWorks distribution head Jim Tharp noted "theaters have reported solid repeat business, especially from family audiences, which has helped Chicken Run have great legs." Both entries will have to put up with Pokémon 2000 which arrives this Friday.

Me, Myself, and Irene fell 32% in its fourth weekend to $5.7M bringing its cume to $77.1M. Fox's other summer comedy, Big Momma's House, is proving to be the larger hit losing 30% to $2.8M. Now in its seventh weekend, the Martin Lawrence crossdressing picture has amassed $108.3M.

Racing towards a likely $100M finish, producer Jerry Bruckheimer's Gone in 60 Seconds took in $2.5M boosting its total to $91M. Shaft rounded out the top ten with $2.4M, off 42%, bringing the sum for the Samuel L. Jackson action film to $66M.

The year's two largest hits continued to reach new heights over the weekend. Paramount's Mission: Impossible 2 lifted its cume to $207.7M putting it at number 27 on the all-time domestic blockbuster list while DreamWorks' Gladiator pushed its total to $176.6M which places it at number 43 overall. The month of May's other huge hit, Dinosaur, reached $132.8M in its ninth weekend.

Dropping out of the top ten after just two weeks was Universal's big-budget kidpic The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle with $2.3M in ticket sales. The $76M update of the 1960s cartoon series has grossed just $20.4M in 17 days and looks to conclude its domestic run with a disappointing total of around $25M. Bullwinkle joins Battlefield Earth and Titan A.E. as the summer's biggest flops.

Compared to projections, X-Men vaulted past my $35M forecast while Scary Movie was in line with my $25M prediction.

Take this week's NEW Reader Survey on Ben Affleck replacing Harrison Ford in The Sum Of All Fears. In last week's survey, readers were asked whether X-Men would open with over $30M. Of 3,712 responses, 80% correctly said yes while 20% thought no.

Be sure to read the NEW Weekly Rewind column which looks back at July of 1996. For a review of X-Men visit The Chief Report.

The top ten films over the weekend grossed $140.3M which was up an amazing 43% from last year when Eyes Wide Shut debuted in the top spot with $21.7M, and up 32% from 1998 when The Mask of Zorro opened at number one with $22.5M.

Be sure to check back on Thursday evening for a complete summary, including projections, for next weekend when new films like What Lies Beneath, Pokémon 2000, and Loser all hit theaters.

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

# Title Jul. 14 - 16 Jul. 7 - 9 % Chg. Theaters Weeks AVG Cumulative Dist.
1 X-Men $ 54,471,475 3,025 1 $ 18,007 $ 54,471,475 Fox
2 Scary Movie 26,195,912 42,346,669 -38.1 3,152 2 8,311 89,096,449 Miramax
3 The Perfect Storm 17,130,295 27,118,925 -36.8 3,407 3 5,028 128,501,870 Warner Bros.
4 The Patriot 10,612,898 15,420,167 -31.2 3,061 3 3,467 82,764,272 Sony
5 The Kid 10,471,323 12,687,726 -17.5 2,320 2 4,514 30,004,785 Buena Vista
6 Chicken Run 7,914,302 9,938,352 -20.4 2,953 4 2,680 77,034,268 DreamWorks
7 Me, Myself, and Irene 5,702,657 8,417,322 -32.3 2,850 4 2,001 77,097,238 Fox
8 Big Momma's House 2,831,239 4,069,050 -30.4 1,643 7 1,723 108,302,019 Fox
9 Gone in 60 Seconds 2,543,766 3,608,888 -29.5 1,702 6 1,495 90,984,361 Buena Vista
10 Shaft 2,386,057 4,117,401 -42.0 1,747 5 1,366 65,982,209 Paramount
11 Mission: Impossible 2 2,311,647 3,287,377 -29.7 1,709 8 1,353 207,669,110 Paramount
12 The Adv. of Rocky and Bullwinkle 2,281,455 3,933,970 -42.0 2,328 3 980 20,415,745 Universal
13 Gladiator 1,571,917 2,028,736 -22.5 1,034 11 1,520 176,582,114 DreamWorks
14 Sunshine 467,045 357,194 30.8 147 6 3,177 2,256,859 Par. Classics
15 Dinosaur 462,243 664,371 -30.4 704 9 657 132,777,352 Buena Vista
16 Michael Jordan to the MAX 403,334 353,241 14.2 56 11 7,202 7,596,652 Giant Screen
17 Croupier 314,811 294,991 6.7 122 13 2,580 2,898,497 Shoot. Gallery
18 Boys and Girls 262,250 542,333 -51.6 389 5 674 20,179,126 Miramax
19 Cirque Du Soleil 233,431 212,507 9.8 20 11 11,672 3,577,523 Sony Classics
20 Shanghai Noon 227,629 376,998 -39.6 292 8 780 54,679,561 Buena Vista
Top 5 $ 118,881,903 $ 107,511,839 10.6
Top 10 140,259,924 131,658,470 6.5
Top 20 148,795,686 140,477,639 5.9
Top 20 vs. 1999 148,795,686 119,589,147 24.4

Last Updated : July 17 at 11:45PM EDT

Written by Gitesh Pandya