Weekend Box Office (August 4 - 6, 2000)

THIS WEEKEND A trio of heavily-hyped new releases enjoyed solid openings causing most holdovers to drop sharply during the first frame of August. Overall theatrical activity remained busy as the top ten films absorbed over $100M for the sixth consecutive weekend. For nine straight box office elections, new candidates have opened at number one pushing incumbents to the side.

Sneaking into the number one spot with a very visible $26.4M gross, according to final studio figures, was the suspense thriller Hollow Man from Sony Pictures. The $95M special effects extravaganza stars Kevin Bacon as a scientist who wreaks havoc after discovering the power of invisibility. Paul Verhoeven (Total Recall, Starship Troopers) directed and Elisabeth Shue also co-stars. Hollow Man opened very wide in 2,956 theaters and averaged a superb $8,936 per lab.

Backed by a very effective marketing campaign, Hollow Man connected with a broad range of moviegoers. "The picture did not really play like a horror film, but instead drew people because of its special effects," said Sony distribution president Jeff Blake. As a result, the audience makeup was relatively even between males and females as well as those under and over 25. The studio saw its biggest opening in over a year, but witnessed a slim 3% Friday-to-Saturday bump.

Hollow Man claimed the second-largest August opening ever trailing The Sixth Sense which launched this weekend a year ago with $26.7M. Overseas, Sony will handle Hollow Man as well with swift openings throughout much of Europe in August and September.

After a thunderous launch last weekend, Eddie Murphy's comedy sequel Nutty Professor II : The Klumps tumbled a troubling 57% in its second try to $18.2M. After ten days, the Universal release has grossed a terrific $76.7M, but is showing no stamina whatsoever. If The Klumps continues at its current rate of descent, a final tally of $110-120M could result putting it a small step behind its 1996 predecessor which collected $128.8M.

Following closely in third was Clint Eastwood's action film Space Cowboys which opened with $18.1M. Launching in 2,805 theaters, the Warner Bros. release averaged a good $6,451 per site. Eastwood, who also directed, was joined by Tommy Lee Jones, James Garner, and Donald Sutherland playing retired pilots who take on a crucial mission into space. Dan Fellman, distribution head of Warner Bros., remarked "this is the biggest opening for Eastwood ever and the CinemaScore rating was an A." Skewing older, it was no surprise that Space Cowboy's giant 30% leap on Saturday was the best among freshmen titles. With a strong opening and encouraging word-of-mouth, the Eastwood-directed film could hold up well throughout August.

Opening in fourth place was the bartending party film Coyote Ugly with $17.3M in 2,653 theaters for a solid $6,528 average. Produced by Jerry Bruckheimer, the Buena Vista release features a cast of little-known actresses and was sold primarily on its sex appeal. The distributor reported that the PG-13 film attracted an audience of mostly teens and young adults and that females made up 52% of the crowd. Exit polls indicated that just 76% marked Coyote Ugly "excellent" or "very good." But the heavily-marketed picture suffered an ugly 23% drop on Saturday compared to Friday which undoubtedly will spell trouble in the weeks ahead.

Enjoying the smallest decline in the top ten, the suspense thriller What Lies Beneath placed fifth with $13.8M. Off 40%, the Harrison Ford-Michelle Pfeiffer hit has lifted its cume to $95.1M in only 17 days and will cross the $100M mark by Friday. The Robert Zemeckis film has prolonged a hugely successful season for domestic distributor DreamWorks which is likely to collect a mammoth $500M in grosses from its summer roster which includes Gladiator, Road Trip, Chicken Run, and What Lies Beneath.

Fox's X-Men dropped 47% to $6.8M in its fourth term raising its heroic total to $136.2M. The blockbuster adaptation of the popular comic book should approach $150M domestically which would make it one of the studio's highest-grossing releases in recent years.

Miramax set a new company record over the weekend as the spoof comedy Scary Movie saw its cume rise to $140.1M, surpassing Good Will Hunting's $138.4M, to become the top-grossing title ever for the Disney subsidiary. The surprise summer hit took in $4.2M, stumbling 49%, and looks likely to conclude with roughly $150M.

The maritime disaster picture The Perfect Storm sank 47% to $4M putting it at a robust $165.6M to date. An eventual $175M tally could be in the works for the George Clooney vehicle.

Rounding out the top ten, the Bruce Willis family comedy The Kid grossed $3M and Mel Gibson's historical tale The Patriot took in $2.3M. Current totals for the two films are $58.3M and $105.7M respectively.

In limited release, Fine Line opened the Sundance prize winner Saving Grace in thirty theaters and grossed $287,452 for a terrific $9,582 average. The Tao of Steve, from Sony Pictures Classics, premiered in nine locations with $91,791 for an encouraging $10,199 average.

Three kidpics dropped out of the top ten over the weekend. Pokemon the Movie 2000, after opening well, continued its rapid deterioration by deflating 66% to $2.1M in its third outing. With $38.2M in the bank, the animated adventure will close with just over $40M. Thomas and the Magic Railroad fell 51% to $2M in its second weekend. With $10.9M in 12 days, the Destination Films release should lose steam at about $15M. DreamWorks' $42M clay animation hit Chicken Run pushed its cume to $97.2M and is likely to make it past the $100M mark by the end of summer.

The top ten films over the weekend grossed $114.1M which was down 14% from last year when The Sixth Sense debuted with $26.7M; but up 17% from 1998 when Saving Private Ryan spent its third weekend at number one with $17.4M.

Compared to projections, Hollow Man debuted very close to my $28M forecast. Space Cowboys and Coyote Ugly both opened stronger than my respective $13M and $15M predictions.

Take this week's NEW Reader Survey on your Academy Award choice for Best Picture of 2000. In last week's survey, readers were asked which of five August releases they were looking forward to the most. Of 2,061 responses, 40% said Hollow Man, 17% picked Coyote Ugly, 17% voted for The Cell, 14% chose Space Cowboys, and 13% said The Replacements.

Be sure to read the Weekly Rewind column which reviews the top-grossing hits of Eddie Murphy. For reviews of Hollow Man and Nutty Professor II visit The Chief Report.

Be sure to check back on Thursday for a complete summary, including projections, for next weekend when The Replacements, Bless the Child, and Autumn in New York all open.

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

# Title Aug. 4 - 6 Jul. 28 - 30 % Chg. Theaters Weeks AVG Cumulative Dist.
1 Hollow Man $ 26,414,386 2,956 1 $ 8,936 $ 26,414,386 Sony
2 Nutty Professor II 18,166,965 42,518,830 -57.3 3,247 2 5,595 76,700,495 Universal
3 Space Cowboys 18,093,776 2,805 1 6,451 18,093,776 Warner Bros.
4 Coyote Ugly 17,319,282 2,653 1 6,528 17,319,282 Buena Vista
5 What Lies Beneath 13,808,388 22,863,897 -39.6 2,867 3 4,816 95,130,565 DreamWorks
6 X-Men 6,762,378 12,681,154 -46.7 2,776 4 2,436 136,238,491 Fox
7 Scary Movie 4,248,067 8,309,217 -48.9 2,597 5 1,636 140,102,129 Miramax
8 The Perfect Storm 3,976,870 7,517,689 -47.1 2,602 6 1,528 165,579,835 Warner Bros.
9 The Kid 2,989,675 5,211,183 -42.6 1,979 5 1,511 58,320,496 Buena Vista
10 The Patriot 2,317,507 4,443,467 -47.8 1,810 6 1,280 105,718,592 Sony
11 Pokémon 2000 2,119,065 6,202,920 -65.8 2,359 3 898 38,227,013 Warner Bros.
12 Thomas and the Magic Railroad 2,027,042 4,154,932 -51.2 2,110 2 961 10,858,849 Destination
13 Chicken Run 1,878,525 3,439,300 -45.4 1,634 7 1,150 97,164,394 DreamWorks
14 Loser 636,586 2,705,545 -76.5 1,304 3 488 14,440,360 Sony
15 Me, Myself, and Irene 560,525 1,636,382 -65.7 746 7 751 87,431,364 Fox
16 Gladiator 493,925 874,562 -43.5 453 14 1,090 180,973,015 DreamWorks
17 Big Momma's House 492,734 917,858 -46.3 576 10 855 113,922,308 Fox
18 Mission: Impossible 2 471,336 840,682 -43.9 557 11 846 212,126,649 Paramount
19 Gone in 60 Seconds 436,372 779,840 -44.0 473 9 923 95,901,067 Buena Vista
20 The Adv. of Rocky and Bullwinkle 411,840 477,760 -13.8 468 6 880 24,208,485 Universal
Top 5 $ 93,802,797 $ 93,890,787 -0.1
Top 10 114,097,294 117,342,589 -2.8
Top 20 123,625,244 127,082,775 -2.7
Top 20 vs. 1999 123,625,244 147,018,351 -15.9

Last Updated : August 7 at 10:45PM EDT

Written by Gitesh Pandya