Weekend Box Office (July 27 - 29, 2001)

THIS WEEKEND Human moviegoers bowed their heads to their new rulers as the colossal number one opening of Fox's Planet of the Apes drove the overall marketplace to the highest-grossing weekend of the year. Tim Burton's update on the classic sci-fi novel took in a jaw-dropping $68.5M in its debut weekend, according to final studio figures, delivering the second largest opening weekend in box office history. Only 1997's The Lost World premiered better with $72.1M over the Friday-to-Sunday portion of its holiday opening.

Fox launched its box office behemoth with roughly 5,800 prints in 3,500 theaters and averaged a lethal $19,581 per theater. Starring Mark Wahlberg, Tim Roth, and Helena Bonham Carter, Planet of the Apes also generated the best July opening, beating the $54.5M debut of last year's X-Men, and the largest opening for Fox surpassing the $64.8M bow of 1999's Star Wars Episode I. Apes easily gave its director and star career-best openings by surpassing Burton's Batman Returns ($47.7M) and Wahlberg's The Perfect Storm ($41.3M).

"Moviegoers were drawn in by the film's concept, director Tim Burton, and by Mark Wahlberg," stated Bruce Snyder, president of distribution for Fox. According to demographic surveys, adult men made up the largest portion of the audience for Planet of the Apes with 54% being male and a surprisingly high 62% being over the age of 25. The PG-13 film was produced for just over $100M and scored a mediocre B- grade with moviegoers polled by CinemaScore.

The sheer size of the opening of Planet of the Apes surpassed even the most optimistic industry forecasts. The effects-filled film grossed more than the next eight movies combined and more than tripled the second weekend take of last week's box office champ Jurassic Park III. Rival studios steered clear of the weekend as Apes was the only new wide release which helped the film maximize its media exposure in the days leading up to the launch. "We're looking at this as a franchise," admitted Snyder hinting that future installments may go into development just as the 1968 Planet of the Apes spawned a number of sequels itself.

On Friday, Planet of the Apes debuted with a towering $24.6M making it the biggest Friday gross ever and the second largest opening day in history after Star Wars Episode I which debuted on a Wednesday with $28.5M in May 1999. (That figure, however, includes grosses from around-the-clock showings that began at 12:01am Tuesday night.) Apes dipped 1% on Saturday taking in $24.4M which is not uncommon for a heavily-hyped sci-fi picture. Sunday saw a 20% decline to $19.6M.

Fox is wasting no time in its hunt for global conquest as Planet of the Apes bowed impressively in Japan with an estimated $5.5M over the Saturday-Sunday period from 326 theaters, and will venture into much of Asia and Latin America next weekend. Australia and most of Europe will follow throughout August.

With the arrival of Planet of the Apes, Universal's dinosaur sequel Jurassic Park III took a substantial hit in its second weekend falling 56% to $22.5M. After only 12 days of release, the $92M adventure film has grossed a mighty $124.8M and seems headed for a final domestic tally of $170-180M.

Dropping down to third place with a large 49% drop in its second weekend was Sony's romantic comedy America's Sweethearts with $15.4M. The $46M ensemble picture starring Julia Roberts and Billy Crystal has grossed $59.1M in ten days and should finish with roughly $100M.

Reese Witherspoon's comedy Legally Blonde continued to show legs sliding just 19% to $9M in its third weekend. The $18M MGM release has grossed a superb $59.8M to date and should deliver strong profits for its studio which on Friday announced a second quarter loss. Paramount's heist thriller The Score dipped 35% to $7.1M pushing its 17-day total to a solid $49.1M.

Crossing the $100M mark in its 38th day of release was Fox's comedy sequel Dr. Dolittle 2 which climbed 5% to $4.6M. With $101.2M in the bank, the Eddie Murphy hit became the ninth movie this year to reach the century mark and the ninth such blockbuster in the actor's career (including animated films). The family film Cats and Dogs took in $4.6M, down 32%, lifting the total for the Warner Bros. release to $81.6M.

The Fast and the Furious dipped only 23% and collected $4.1M and has grossed $132.5M to date. Rounding out the top ten were Miramax's Scary Movie 2 with $2.7M and DreamWorks' animated smash Shrek with $1.8M. Totals to date are $67.2M and $255.5M respectively.

In limited release, Artisan expanded its mob comedy Made from 19 to 105 theaters and grossed $662,221 averaging a good $6,307 per location. The Jon Favreau-helmed picture has grossed $1.3M thus far and adds ten more markets on Friday. In its second weekend, MGM's comic book-inspired film Ghost World took in $133,003 from eight theaters. Averaging $16,629 per site, the Thora Birch-starrer has collected $310,158 in ten days and expands into seven new markets on Friday.

A pair of action films left the top ten over the weekend. Jet Li's Kiss of the Dragon fell 39% to $1.8M in its fourth frame bringing its cume to $33M. Budgeted at about $25M, the Fox release should reach a domestic final of roughly $37M. The $115M computer-animated adventure film Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within continued to crumble dropping 64% to $1.3M in its third voyage. Released by Sony, the big-budget flop has grossed $30.3M and looks to end with about $32M.

Compared to projections, Planet of the Apes powered ahead of my $57M forecast.

The top ten films grossed $140.4M which was up 20% from last year when Nutty Professor II opened in the top spot with $42.5M; and up 5% from 1999 when Runaway Bride debuted at number one with $35.1M.

Take this week's NEW Reader Survey on who should host next year's Academy Awards. In last week's survey, readers were asked which summer film has been the biggest box office disappointment. Of 3,029 responses, 36% selected Final Fantasy, 35% picked A.I., 26% said Pearl Harbor, while 3% chose Atlantis.

Read the Weekly Rewind column which looks back at July 1994 when True Lies and Forrest Gump duked it out for the number one spot. For a review of Planet of the Apes visit The Chief Report.

Be sure to check back on Thursday for a complete summary, including projections, for next weekend when Rush Hour 2, Original Sin, and The Princess Diaries all debut.

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

# Title July 27 - 29 July 20 - 22 % Chg. Theaters Weeks AVG Cumulative Dist.
1 Planet of the Apes $ 68,532,960 3,500 1 $ 19,581 $ 68,532,960 Fox
2 Jurassic Park III 22,542,645 50,771,645 -55.6 3,439 2 6,555 124,824,290 Universal
3 America's Sweethearts 15,402,622 30,181,877 -49.0 3,011 2 5,115 59,105,830 Sony
4 Legally Blonde 9,005,364 11,103,700 -18.9 2,725 3 3,305 59,843,094 MGM
5 The Score 7,053,201 10,762,333 -34.5 2,211 3 3,190 49,139,109 Paramount
6 Dr. Dolittle 2 4,633,601 4,400,905 5.3 2,188 6 2,118 101,223,343 Fox
7 Cats and Dogs 4,617,236 6,814,617 -32.2 2,816 4 1,640 81,626,437 Warner Bros.
8 The Fast and the Furious 4,090,275 5,327,395 -23.2 2,385 6 1,715 132,482,600 Universal
9 Scary Movie 2 2,717,900 4,523,493 -39.9 2,179 4 1,247 67,201,319 Miramax
10 Shrek 1,792,718 2,275,232 -21.2 1,439 11 1,246 255,526,280 DreamWorks
11 Kiss of the Dragon 1,768,153 2,916,173 -39.4 1,214 4 1,456 33,049,332 Fox
12 Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within 1,302,566 3,658,552 -64.4 2,028 3 642 30,317,845 Sony
13 Lara Croft: Tomb Raider 1,009,525 1,877,509 -46.2 940 7 1,074 128,458,087 Paramount
14 A.I. : Artificial Intelligence 943,536 2,168,939 -56.5 1,327 5 711 76,719,018 Warner Bros.
15 Atlantis: The Lost Empire 863,892 1,226,201 -29.5 893 8 967 79,404,093 Buena Vista
16 Pearl Harbor 826,872 1,077,223 -23.2 715 10 1,156 193,662,453 Buena Vista
17 Baby Boy 681,382 1,158,417 -41.2 491 5 1,388 27,823,989 Sony
18 Made 662,221 276,946 139.1 105 3 6,307 1,317,873 Artisan
19 Yaadein 645,615 56 1 11,529 645,615 Tips Films
20 The Closet 391,385 335,704 16.6 98 5 3,994 1,845,513 Miramax
Top 5 $ 122,536,792 $ 109,634,172 11.8
Top 10 140,388,522 130,460,690 7.6
Top 20 149,483,669 141,753,237 5.5
Top 20 vs. 2000 149,483,669 127,082,775 17.6

Last Updated : July 30, 2001 at 8:15PM EDT

Written by Gitesh Pandya