Weekend Box Office (August 28 - 30, 1998)
The final weekend of summer saw the same three movies top the charts, although
in a slightly different order. Overall, holdovers posted strong sales while
newcomers were greeted with mild results. Meanwhile, Titanic
crossed the $600 million hurdle on Thursday and continued to pull in sizable
crowds days before its release on home video.
New Line's vampire action film Blade stayed a cut above the competition with a sharp $10.9M, according to final studio figures, in its second frame keeping it ahead of all other films at the box office. Its decline of 36% was remarkable considering the Wesley Snipes film, based on the comic book hero, played to a sci-fi crowd that generally sees a film during its first weekend. The second weekend drop was much lower than those of other recent films like The X Files (-56%), Starship Troopers (-55%), and New Line's previous August hits Spawn (-58%) and Mortal Kombat (-57%). With a sturdy $34.7M in its first ten days, Blade is running about even with 1995's hit action-horror film Species which opened similarly with $17.2M, collected $34.5M in its first ten days, and finished off with $60.1M. New Line should end up seeing comparable results from Blade although the vampire pic will not benefit from as many weeks of summer play as Species which was released in early July.
Fox won big over the weekend as the unstoppable comedy There's Something About Mary added 215 more theaters and actually saw an increase of 9% over last weekend's gross to push it up to second place. Now in its seventh weekend, Mary took in $8.4M boosting its total to a charming $116.2M. Achieving its highest chart position to date, the Farrelly Brothers gross-out film will try to use its momentum to finally reach a first place finish next weekend. Standing in its way will be holdovers Blade and Saving Private Ryan and newcomer Knock Off starring Jean-Claude Van Damme. Nevertheless, Mary is looking more and more like that leggy picture from the summer of 1990, Ghost. In its seventh weekend, the Demi Moore-Patrick Swayze romance grossed $7.5M boosting its total to $111.5M. Take out the $4M from Mary's midweek opening and the two films are about even over the 45-day period of release with Mary having a stronger seventh weekend gross. Ghost went on to collect $217.6M. With few new comedies hitting theaters over the next several weeks, Mary should power its way to a very high cumulative total.
Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks placed third over the weekend with their blockbuster Saving Private Ryan which earned $8.1M pushing its cume to $155.3M. Down only 20%, the war drama passed the $150M mark on Saturday, its 37th day of combat. Ryan should have no problem reaching $190M, and could very well conquer $200M.
Two new releases opened in fourth and fifth places that took moviegoers for a trip back in time. Miramax's disco drama 54 opened its doors to the tune of $6.6M. Starring Ryan Philippe, Salma Hayek, Neve Campbell, and Mike Myers, 54 debuted in 1,859 clubs and averaged $3,556 per nightspot. The film chronicled the lavish nights of the infamous discotheque on Manhattan's West 54th Street in the late 1970s. Mixed reviews and a small 5% increase in Saturday sales could slow this disco ball down in the coming weeks. By comparison, New Line's Boogie Nights, which also dealt with the same decadent era, opened wide in half the number of theaters and grossed $4.7M last October with a much more sinful $5,162 average.
The Warner Bros. picture Why Do Fools Fall In Love? rounded out the top five with a weak $3.9M in ticket sales in its debut weekend. Playing in 1,369 cinemas, Fools averaged a not-so-lovely $2,883 per site. Unfortunately for the studio, the starpower of Halle Berry, Vivica A. Fox, and Lela Rochon was not enough to attract a healthy opening.
Taking sixth place was a summer entry that quietly has become a breakout hit. Fox's Cinderella update Ever After picked up $3.8M in its fifth weekend of release pushing its cume to a solid $48.5M. Down only 17%, the Drew Barrymore fairy tale has displayed strong legs throughout its entire run at the box office and is headed for at least $70M.
Angela Bassett's How Stella Got Her Groove Back took seventh with $3.6M. Snake Eyes from Paramount dipped just 29% to finish eighth with $3.6M. The Parent Trap grossed $2.9M over the Friday-to-Sunday period and Sony's Dance With Me was off by 36% in its sophomore session taking in $2.9M.
In limited release, Fox Searchlight's Slums of Beverly Hills and Miramax's Next Stop Wonderland added more markets to their runs and showed promising results. Slums averaged $4,540 in 181 sites in its third weekend giving it a weekend take of $821,778 and a cume of $1.2M. Wonderland pulled into 69 stops and averaged $5,509 per theater for a gross of $380,149 which puts its total at $566,000. Meanwhile, Your Friends and Neighbors, from Gramercy, took in $344,531 in 45 locations for a healthy $7,656 average and $910,000 total to date. All three films expand much wider on Friday.
Another historic milestone was achieved on Thursday, August 27th, as Titanic sailed across the $600 million mark in domestic ticket sales. This weekend, the James Cameron epic collected $335,704 elevating its record-shattering cume to $600.4M making it the only film ever to reach that level. Still playing in 502 theaters, Titanic is preparing to invade the home video market on Tuesday where it is sure to break even more records as retailers brace themselves for a buying frenzy. The online video superstore Reel.com, selling the video for only $9.99, is prepared to take a loss on each sale in hopes of introducing a flood of new customers to a new way of buying videos. Retailers like Blockbuster Video and Best Buy are having midnight sales at many of their stores on Monday night for customers who just can't wait to own the movie. For complete coverage of Titanic's historic run towards $600M last week, read the special report Titanic : Countdown to $600 Million.
Compared to my projections, Blade came in a little better than my forecast of $9-10M. 54 and Why Do Fools Fall In Love? both fell a bit short of my predictions of $8M and $7M respectively.
Take this week's NEW Reader Survey on the summer box office. In last week's survey, readers were asked whether they would want to see a movie based on President Clinton's extra-marital activities with Monica Lewinsky. Of 1,237 responses, 28% said yes while 72% voted no.
Be sure to read the Weekly Rewind column which features a report on the top September openings of the decade. This Wednesday's new column will go back to Titanic and relive the film's historic voyage to $600M.
The top ten films grossed $54.8M which was down 20% from last year when G.I. Jane stood at number one with $10.3M over the four-day Labor Day weekend, and up 10% from 1996 when The Crow : City of Angels debuted at the top of the holiday frame with $8.2M.
Be sure to check in again on Thursday for a complete summary, including projections, for the Labor Day weekend box office when Knock Off will try to prevent There's Something About Mary from reaching number one.
Below are final studio figures for the weekend. Click on the title to jump to its official home page:
This column is updated three times each week : Thursday (upcoming weekend's summary), Sunday (post-weekend analysis with estimates), and Monday night (actuals). Source : EDI, Exhibitor Relations. Opinions expressed in this column are those solely of the author.
Written by Gitesh Pandya