Weekend Box Office (August 8 - 10, 1997)

Conspiracy TheoryTHIS WEEKEND In a close race, Conspiracy Theory edged out Air Force One for the top spot at the domestic box office. With a $19.3M weekend gross, the Mel Gibson-Julia Roberts thriller unseated Harrison Ford's presidential hijack film which spent two terms at the #1 spot and grossed $17.8M in its third frame. Theory's opening performance was still below the levels achieved by the last films by each of its stars. Ransom opened with a $34.2M weekend last November while My Best Friend's Wedding took in $21.7M in its first weekend in June.

The opening of Conspiracy Theory was strong, but given the starpower of Gibson, Roberts, and Patrick Stewart as well as the talent of director Richard Donner and producer Joel Silver, this film should have had a more potent showing. It could, however, generate good word-of-mouth and play well over the course of the next few weeks and still see a final tally of $80M or so. With the fifth largest August opening ever, Theory will also be able to use the Gibson and Roberts names to command even stronger ticket sales overseas. For a review of Theory, visit Sujit Chawla's Movie Review Page.

Slipping to second place was Air Force One which still remained a mighty force at the box office with a drop of only 31% which is very impressive considering that Warner Bros. was aiming for the same audience with Conspiracy Theory. The Harrison Ford blockbuster raced across the $100M mark over the weekend and should end up as the third highest-grossing movie of the summer, after Men in Black and The Lost World. The performance of AFO was better than my prediction of a 35% drop while Theory did not reach the $25M level which I projected.

Elsewhere, two other new releases were given considerably less attention by moviegoers. How to Be A Player, starring MTV's Bill Bellamy, got the cold shoulder with a $4.2M three-day gross ($5.7M since its Wednesday opening), but its per-screen average was very good. With only $1M in ticket sales this weekend, Free Willy 3 showed Warner Bros. that Batman isn't the only franchise they should put to an end. Spawn plunged 58% from last weekend which is not surprising for a cult comic book movie. Results were much better for the two other sophomore pictures as Picture Perfect saw a respectable decline of 36% and Air Bud dropped by only 27%. George of the Jungle, Men in Black, and Contact continued their strong runs with each losing less than 30%.

Overall, the top ten films grossed $78.1M - up 27% from last year and up 12% from 1995. Below are final studio figures. Click on the title to jump to its official home page.

# Title Aug 8 - 10 Aug 1 - 3 % Chg. Weeks Cumulative
1 Conspiracy Theory $ 19,313,565 1 $ 19,313,565
2 Air Force One 17,827,096 25,731,622 -30.7 3 110,582,800
3 Spawn 8,949,953 21,210,131 -57.8 2 37,698,660
4 George of the Jungle 6,316,178 8,876,982 -28.8 4 75,922,754
5 Men in Black 5,652,350 8,011,097 -29.4 6 218,004,940
6 Picture Perfect 5,004,163 7,809,026 -35.9 2 17,471,968
7 Contact 4,478,753 6,249,420 -28.3 5 83,356,775
8 How to Be A Player 4,206,656 1 5,736,692
9 Air Bud 3,457,335 4,720,516 -26.8 2 11,360,427
10 Nothing to Lose 2,846,109 4,492,096 -36.6 4 37,320,239
Top 5 $ 58,059,142 $ 71,638,858 -19.0
Top 10 78,052,158 94,423,126 -17.3

    This column is updated three times a week : Thursday (upcoming weekend's summary), Sunday (post-weekend analysis with estimates), and Monday night (actuals). Source : Variety, EDI.

    Last Updated : August 11, 1997 at 8:10PM