Weekend Box Office (August 1 - 3, 2003)

THIS WEEKEND For the fifth time in six weeks, a sequel opened at the top of the North American box office as the gross-out comedy American Wedding beat all competitors while the soon-to-be-hitched celebrity couple of Jennifer Lopez and Ben Affleck suffered the biggest bomb of their careers with the critically-panned mob comedy Gigli which was dead on arrival. With only one new release selling any tickets, and no new action movie entering the field for the first time since Memorial Day weekend, most holdovers witnessed small-to-medium declines. For the first time in two months, no film in the top ten dropped more than 50%, but that wasn't enough to keep the overall marketplace from falling behind the first weekend of August from the last two years.

Universal's American Wedding, the third and final chapter in the American Pie series, debuted at number one grossing $33.4M from 3,172 theaters, according to final studio figures. Averaging a potent $10,520 per location, the R-rated comedy reunited several of the cast members of the first two installments including Jason Biggs, Alyson Hannigan, Seann William Scott, and Eugene Levy. The opening figure landed in between the $18.7M launch for 1999's American Pie and the $45.1M debut of the 2001 sequel. Teens and young adults made up the core audience for Wedding which carried a production cost of $55M. Females slightly outnumbered males accounting for 51% of the crowd while those under 25 amounted to 57%.

Falling an acceptable 42%, Spy Kids 3-D grabbed $19.5M in its second weekend boosting its ten-day score to an impressive $68.5M. Budgeted at $40M, the PG-rated film generated one of the lowest second-weekend drops for a sequel this summer. 3-D might end its game with $120-130M making it the top-grossing installment of the Robert Rodriguez trilogy. The three family adventure films together will end up grossing over $320M domestically.

Still bringing in plenty of treasure in its fourth weekend was Disney's Pirates of the Caribbean which grossed $18.8M for a slender decline of only 19%. Averaging a still-strong $5,559 from 3,390 venues, the Johnny Depp smash has climbed to $209.5M after just 26 days and now sits at number 45 on the list of all-time domestic blockbusters just behind last summer's Austin Powers in Goldmember which grossed $213.1M. For Buena Vista, Pirates is only the fourth live-action film in company history to reach the $200M mark following The Sixth Sense, Signs, and Armageddon. At its current pace, the Gore Verbinski-directed hit could surpass The Matrix Reloaded and, along with Finding Nemo, give the Mouse House the two biggest hits of the summer.

Universal expanded its Tobey Maguire-Jeff Bridges hit Seabiscuit and climbed a notch to fourth place with $17.6M from 2,421 locations in its second weekend. The literary-based drama dipped just 15%, thanks to its additional 432 theaters, and watched its average of $7,285 drop by only 30%. After ten days, the $86M horse racing tale has collected $49.2M in its purse and looks to be a lock for the $100M club. Good ol' word-of-mouth should keep Seabiscuit going strong during the month of August as very few quality offerings for adults are set to open over the next several weeks.

A pair of action sequels followed. Sony's Bad Boys II grossed $12.7M, off 42%, for a total of $111.3M. The Martin Lawrence-Will Smith pic became the 14th release of the year to break the $100M mark. Not likely to join the century club was Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life which collected $11.3M in its second weekend. The Paramount franchise flick suffered the worst drop in the top ten tumbling 48% and raised its ten-day sum to $42.6M. Budgeted at $90M, the Angelina Jolie vehicle should eventually capture about $70M domestically or just more than half of the $131.2M of the first Tomb Raider from 2001.

The Disney/Pixar sensation Finding Nemo enjoyed the best hold of any wide release slipping just 12% to $3.9M in its tenth weekend in the top ten. With a towering $320M in ticket sales, the year's top-grossing film climbed up to number ten on the list of all-time domestic blockbusters surpassing the $317.6M of 2001's Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone.

Generating some of the worst press of any film this year, the Jennifer Lopez-Ben Affleck comedy Gigli opened disastrously earning a dismal $3.8M over the weekend. Playing in 2,215 theaters, the Sony release averaged a pitiful $1,695 per venue. Slammed by critics, the R-rated film about a hit man who falls for his mission partner not only scored universally poor reviews, but its widespread critical-panning became a major news story as well. Gigli was produced for $54M, but with such a poor start, the poorly-titled film is not likely to reach past $10M domestically.

The few moviegoers who actually did pay to see Gigli this weekend were understandably disappointed with their ticket purchase. Saturday sales fell 11% from Friday's tally which is exceptionally alarming for an adult-skewing film that is not a sequel. The Martin Brest-directed flop earned a D+ average grade from over 5,000 users of Yahoo.com while on RottenTomatoes.com, a pitiful 5 of 99 critics gave the film a positive review. Gigli may not be the worst flop of all time, but it does look like a front-runner for next year's Razzies.

Falling 36% to ninth place was Fox's The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen with $3.3M and a cume of $59M. Rounding out the top ten was Terminator 3 with $3M giving the Warner Bros. sequel $142.9M to date.

Two films fell from the top ten over the weekend. Universal's British spy comedy Johnny English fell 40% to $2.6M in its third mission and brought its cume to $23.5M. The $35M film should finish with around $30M domestically and around $150M worldwide. MGM's comedy sequel Legally Blonde 2 has charmed its way to over $85.3M to date. Reese Witherspoon's $50M pic looks to conclude with about $90M putting it close to the $96.4M of its 2001 predecessor.

Fox Searchlight expanded its cross-cultural soccer comedy Bend It Like Beckham into 1,002 theaters nationwide and kicked up $1.8M for a mild average of $1,809. That brought the cume for the British-Indian hit to $28.3M. The distributor hopes that a weak lineup in August will lead to moviegoers trying out the feel-good indie hit of the year.

Opening well in New York and Los Angeles was the Paramount Classics romance And Now Ladies and Gentlemen which bowed to $49,176 from six theaters for a solid $8,196 average. The Jeremy Irons drama will slowly expand into more markets over the next several weeks.

The top ten films grossed $127.3M which was down 8% from last year when Signs opened at number one with $60.1M; and was down 20% from 2001 when Rush Hour 2 debuted in the top spot with an August record $67.4M.

Compared to projections, American Wedding opened on target with my $35M forecast while Gigli debuted with less than half of my $11M prediction.

Take this week's NEW Reader Survey on Pirates vs. Matrix. In last week's survey, readers were asked which of two franchises would no longer be continuing. Of 4,156 responses, 68% said Tomb Raider while 32% picked Charlie's Angels. For a review of Tomb Raider visit The Chief Report.

Be sure to check back on Thursday for a complete summary, including projections, for next weekend when S.W.A.T. and Freaky Friday both open.

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

# Title Aug 1 - 3 Jul 25 - 27 % Chg. Theaters Weeks AVG Cumulative Distributor
1 American Wedding $ 33,369,440 3,172 1 $ 10,520 $ 33,369,440 Universal
2 Spy Kids 3-D 19,500,260 33,417,739 -41.6 3,364 2 5,797 68,505,515 Miramax
3 Pirates of the Caribbean 18,844,044 23,136,029 -18.6 3,390 4 5,559 209,531,292 Buena Vista
4 Seabiscuit 17,636,985 20,854,735 -15.4 2,421 2 7,285 49,223,245 Universal
5 Bad Boys II 12,734,526 22,051,422 -42.3 3,022 3 4,214 111,346,063 Sony
6 Lara Croft Tomb Raider II 11,339,464 21,783,641 -47.9 3,222 2 3,519 42,599,015 Paramount
7 Finding Nemo 3,860,462 4,391,650 -12.1 1,777 10 2,172 320,020,760 Buena Vista
8 Gigli 3,753,518 2,215 1 1,695 3,753,518 Sony
9 The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen 3,266,798 5,070,971 -35.6 2,007 4 1,628 58,955,959 Fox
10 T3: Rise of the Machines 2,985,446 5,063,450 -41.0 1,910 5 1,563 142,853,468 Warner Bros.
11 Johnny English 2,603,370 4,327,130 -39.8 1,771 3 1,470 23,476,830 Universal
12 Bend It Like Beckham 1,813,118 223,567 711.0 1,002 21 1,809 28,294,045 Fox Searchlight
13 28 Days Later 1,664,030 2,341,887 -28.9 842 6 1,976 40,294,752 Fox Searchlight
14 Legally Blonde 2 1,408,958 2,707,034 -48.0 1,414 5 996 85,260,859 MGM
15 Whale Rider 1,105,383 1,085,258 1.9 473 9 2,337 11,300,552 Newmarket
16 Swimming Pool 1,008,571 919,103 9.7 242 5 4,168 5,253,781 Focus
17 The Italian Job 671,944 1,001,029 -32.9 383 10 1,754 95,322,358 Paramount
18 Bruce Almighty 604,905 718,900 -15.9 456 11 1,327 238,542,825 Universal
19 Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle 555,156 1,460,418 -62.0 522 6 1,064 94,527,728 Sony
20 How to Deal 532,667 2,308,713 -76.9 1,122 3 475 13,759,162 New Line
Top 5 $ 102,085,255 $ 121,243,566 -15.8
Top 10 127,290,943 142,803,801 -10.9
Top 20 139,259,045 154,058,775 -9.6
Top 20 vs. 2002 139,259,045 150,822,612 -7.7

Last Updated : August 4, 2003 at 8:00PM EDT

Written by Gitesh Pandya

Gitesh Pandya can be seen each Friday on "The Biz" airing at 12:30pm and 9:30pm ET on CNNfn.