Weekend Box Office (August 24 - 26, 2001)

THIS WEEKEND Five new films failed to unseat Universal's American Pie 2 from the number one spot at the North American box office as the teen comedy spent its third consecutive weekend atop the charts. The new crop of late summer entries delivered opening weekend grosses that ranged from moderate to disastrous which helped the overall marketplace slow down as the summer season comes to an end.

Taking in another $12.5M, according to final studio figures, American Pie 2 became the first film since spring's Spy Kids to hold the number one spot for three straight weekends. The hit comedy dropped 41% and raised its total to a stellar $109.3M surpassing the $101.8M take of its 1999 predecessor in just 16 days. Produced for $30M, the R-rated picture looks to reach $140-150M by the end of its domestic run.

New Line once again claimed second place with the action-comedy Rush Hour 2 which grossed $11.5M in its fourth weekend. The Chris Tucker-Jackie Chan collaboration slipped 39% from last weekend and boosted its total to $183.4M making it the year's fourth highest-grossing film after Shrek, The Mummy Returns, and Pearl Harbor. Produced for $90M, Rush Hour 2 should race to $210-220M domestically.

Kevin Smith's new slacker comedy Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back delivered the best performance among the weekend's five new releases opening with $11M. Invading 2,765 theaters, the Miramax title averaged a so-so $3,985 per venue. Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the R-rated comedy a B+ grade, however the $20M film suffered a horrendous 24% decline on Saturday due to the director's cult following rushing out on opening day. Jay and Silent Bob was given the most ambitious launch ever for a Kevin Smith film. His last effort, 1999's controversial Dogma, opened with $8.7M but played in less than half the number of theaters as Jay and Silent Bob.

Miramax continued to expand its supernatural thriller The Others and once again enjoyed the smallest decline in the top ten easing just 22% to $8.6M. After 17 days, the Nicole Kidman suspense film has grossed a solid $46.1M.

Another film holding up well, Paramount's comedy Rat Race, placed fifth with $8.1M in its second weekend. Dropping only 31%, the PG-13 picture has taken in $25.4M and should find its way to $50-60M.

Debuting in sixth place was the baseball-themed romantic comedy Summer Catch with $7M from 2,335 theaters. The Warner Bros. release averaged a mild $3,006 per site. Starring Freddie Prinze Jr. as a promising young ball player, the PG-13 film did not fare much better than the openings for the actor's recent pictures which included $4.8M for Head Over Heels and $7M for Boys and Girls. Summer Catch was given a B+ by CinemaScore audiences and suffered a 13% drop on Saturday.

The modern fairy tale comedy The Princess Diaries slipped 31% to $6.6M pushing its total to $82.4M. Captain Corelli's Mandolin dropped 44% in its second weekend to $4M giving the Universal romance a disappointing $14.1M in ten days.

Ice Cube and Natasha Henstridge joined forces in the sci-fi action film Ghosts of Mars but were met with mostly empty auditoriums as the R-rated thriller opened with just $3.8M. Playing in 2,048 locations, the John Carpenter film averaged a dismal $1,858 and earned a disappointing C- CinemaScore grade. Budgeted at $28M, the Sony release looks to disappear fast.

Rounding out the top ten was Fox's Planet of the Apes which grossed $3.6M and saw its overall tally race to $167.8M.

A pair of new films opened outside of the top ten with poor results. Woody Allen's The Curse of the Jade Scorpion took in $2.5M from 903 theaters for a $2,723 average. Lacking strong reviews, the DreamWorks release performed below the $3.9M debut of the director's previous film with the studio - last year's Small Time Crooks. Also opening this weekend was Buena Vista's comedy Bubble Boy with $2M from 1,605 sites for a weak $1,270 average.

Three films dropped out of the top ten this weekend. The dino sequel Jurassic Park III fell 46% to $2.4M lifting its blockbuster cume to $172.7M. Universal's $92M adventure film should finish its domestic run with $175-180M. The western action flick American Outlaws plunged 58% to $2M this weekend giving the Jesse James picture only $9.1M in ten days. The Warner Bros. release looks to end with about $13M. MGM's $18M comedy Legally Blonde has grossed a superb $86.2M to date and should reach a solid $90M making the Reese Witherspoon hit one of the summer's most profitable films.

Compared to projections, Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back opened well below my $20M forecast while Summer Catch's debut was on target with my $7M prediction. Ghosts of Mars, The Curse of the Jade Scorpion, and Bubble Boy all premiered below my respective projections of $10M, $4M, and $7M.

The top ten films grossed $76.8M which was up 11% from last year when Bring It On opened in the top spot with $17.4M; and up 9% from 1999 when The Sixth Sense remained at number one for a third time with $20.1M.

Take this week's NEW Reader Survey on American Pie 3. In last week's survey, readers were asked which of this weekend's new releases would have the biggest opening. Of 1,866 responses, 58% picked Jay and Silent Bob, 22% selected Ghosts of Mars, 11% said Bubble Boy, 5% chose Summer Catch, and 4% picked Jade Scorpion.

Read the Weekly Rewind column which reports on the top September openings. For a review of Rat Race visit The Chief Report.

Be sure to check back on Thursday for a complete summary, including projections, for next weekend's Labor Day frame when O and Jeepers Creepers both debut.

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

# Title Aug 24 - 26 Aug 17 - 19 % Chg. Theaters Weeks AVG Cumulative Dist.
1 American Pie 2 $ 12,517,475 $ 21,104,656 -40.7 3,157 3 $ 3,965 $ 109,337,940 Universal
2 Rush Hour 2 11,582,818 19,024,208 -39.1 3,001 4 3,860 183,421,781 New Line
3 Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back 11,018,543 2,765 1 3,985 11,018,543 Miramax
4 The Others 8,565,868 10,906,170 -21.5 2,436 3 3,516 46,146,680 Miramax
5 Rat Race 8,110,038 11,662,094 -30.5 2,551 2 3,179 25,437,381 Paramount
6 Summer Catch 7,018,593 2,335 1 3,006 7,018,593 Warner Bros.
7 The Princess Diaries 6,602,516 9,614,307 -31.3 2,749 4 2,402 82,391,618 Buena Vista
8 Captain Corelli's Mandolin 4,005,815 7,209,345 -44.4 1,612 2 2,485 14,092,095 Universal
9 Ghosts of Mars 3,804,452 2,048 1 1,858 3,804,452 Sony
10 Planet of the Apes 3,586,225 7,142,635 -49.8 1,931 5 1,857 167,842,258 Fox
11 The Curse of the Jade Scorpion 2,459,315 903 1 2,723 2,459,315 DreamWorks
12 Jurassic Park III 2,413,515 4,440,740 -45.7 1,494 6 1,615 172,667,010 Universal
13 Bubble Boy 2,038,349 1,605 1 1,270 2,038,349 Buena Vista
14 American Outlaws 2,026,733 4,855,475 -58.3 2,305 2 879 9,098,173 Warner Bros.
15 Legally Blonde 1,471,614 2,575,400 -42.9 1,204 7 1,222 86,179,945 MGM
16 The Deep End 1,150,619 641,051 79.5 208 3 5,532 2,485,532 Fox Searchlight
17 The Score 1,086,305 1,820,842 -40.3 803 7 1,353 67,382,820 Paramount
18 America's Sweethearts 903,546 2,308,875 -60.9 908 6 995 89,805,929 Sony
19 Osmosis Jones 758,324 2,504,428 -69.7 1,262 3 601 12,344,938 Warner Bros.
20 Tortilla Soup 653,729 202 1 3,236 653,729 IDP
Top 5 $ 51,740,742 $ 72,311,435 -28.4
Top 10 76,758,343 98,535,030 -22.1
Top 20 91,720,392 110,367,216 -16.9
Top 20 vs. 2000 91,720,392 85,054,798 7.8

Last Updated : August 27, 2001 at 8:30PM EDT

Written by Gitesh Pandya