Weekend Box Office (August 30 - September 2, 2002)

THIS WEEKEND Moviegoers said farewell to summer by continuing to make the suspense hit Signs the number one film in North America over the Labor Day holiday weekend. Meanwhile, a trio of independent films led by My Big Fat Greek Wedding expanded into more theaters and delivered solid results attracting ticket buyers sick of Hollywood's late-summer rejects.

For the second consecutive weekend, and third time overall, M. Night Shyamalan's alien thriller Signs topped the box office grossing $17M over the Friday-to-Monday holiday session, according to final studio figures. After 32 days of release, the Mel Gibson blockbuster has beamed up $195.6M and has become the top grossing movie ever for the Hollywood superstar surpassing the $182.8M of 2000's What Women Want. The four-day tally for Signs ranks as the second-best Labor Day weekend gross ever behind the director's own The Sixth Sense which scared up a thrilling $29.3M in 1999 while also in its fifth frame.

The runaway comedy hit My Big Fat Greek Wedding climbed two more rungs on the box office ladder and reached the bridesmaid position grossing $14.8M from 1,619 theaters. IFC Films added another 290 playdates and continued its brilliantly-executed expansion of the PG-rated film watching its cume reach $82.6M. Wedding averaged a terrific $9,147 per theater while in its 20th weekend of release. Still defying gravity, the independent smash once again enjoyed the biggest gross and highest chart position of its amazing theatrical run and should break the $100M mark by the end of next week.

Greek Wedding is not the first surprise hit to reach blockbuster status without huge weekend grosses to its credit. 1999's American Beauty ended up with $130.1M without ever taking in more than $10M on a single weekend. The following year's Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon reached $128.1M without ever collecting more than $9M over a single weekend.

With Labor Day weekend putting an end to another summer movie season, overall ticket sales since Memorial Day weekend are estimated to be up 3% versus last summer. Factor in increased ticket prices and total admissions are roughly flat. The top five blockbuster hits of the season include Spider-Man ($403.7M), Star Wars Episode II ($300.7M), Austin Powers in Goldmember ($203.5M), Signs ($195.6M), and Men in Black II ($190.4M). Four titles will cross the $200M mark compared to three last year and just one in 2000. Two megablockbusters surpassed the $300M barrier this summer while no film reached that mark duing the last two summers.

Sony's action blockbuster XXX slipped a notch to third with $13.1M pushing its muscular cume up to $123.9M. Spy Kids 2 followed in fourth with $8.3M putting its total at $70.1M to date.

The weekend's only new wide release, the horror flick fear dot com, bowed to just $7.1M. The Warner Bros. release about deaths linked to a spooky web site averaged a not-so-scary $2,779 per location in 2,550 theaters.

Also claiming $7.1M over the long holiday weekend was Mike Myers with Austin Powers in Goldmember. The New Line title joined the double-century club on Sunday and has deposited $203.5M in the bank thus far. Universal's surfer pic Blue Crush ranked seventh with $5.6M giving the teen film $34.7M overall. The Matthew Perry-Elizabeth Hurley comedy Serving Sara dropped to $4.4M in its sophomore frame giving the Paramount pic $11.9M in eleven days.

Fox Searchlight expanded its Jennifer Aniston-starrer The Good Girl from 188 to 667 theaters and debuted in the top ten with $3.8M. The R-rated adultery tale averaged a solid $5,704 over four days and raised its cume to $7.5M. The distributor does not expect to widen the release much more and hopes to coast through September in just under 700 theaters.

Tom Hanks stole the number ten spot with Road to Perdition which grossed $3.5M. Perdition witnessed a healthy increase from last weekend and watched its total rise to $99.3M. The DreamWorks/Fox co-production will break the $100M mark later this week.

One Hour Photo, which finds Robin Williams playing a film developer who gets obsessively attached to a family of customers, grossed $3.3M and expanded into the top 25 markets averaging a scorching $20,282 from 164 theaters in its second weekend. More than quadrupling the per-theater average of top-grosser Signs, the Fox Searchlight title packed in audiences while still in limited release and will expand to over 800 theaters on September 13. Cume to date is $3.8M.

Among foreign films playing in selected theaters, Paramount Classics' German pic Mostly Martha grossed $503,394 over four days averaging $7,627 from just 66 locations. Total to date is $869,437. Cinebella opened the Hindi-language film Agnivarsha - The Fire and the Rain in eight theaters and took in $25,049 for a $3,131 average.

The top ten films grossed $84.7M over the four-day weekend which was down 4% from last year's holiday frame when Jeepers Creepers opened at number one with $15.8M; but up 22% from 2000 when Bring It On remained in the top spot with $14.2M.

Compared to projections, fear dot com opened very close to my $8M forecast.

Take this week's NEW Reader Survey on next weekend's new releases. In last week's survey, readers were asked if they thought My Big Fat Greek Wedding would break the $100M domestic mark. Of 3,874 responses, 73% said Yes while 27% thought No.

Be sure to check back on Thursday for a complete summary, including projections, for next weekend when City by the Sea and Swimfan both open.

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

# Title Aug 30 - Sep 2 Aug 23 - 25 % Chg. Theaters Weeks AVG Cumulative Distributor
1 Signs $ 17,043,114 $ 14,285,028 19.3 3,437 5 $ 4,959 $ 195,582,456 Buena Vista
2 My Big Fat Greek Wedding 14,809,546 7,261,842 103.9 1,619 20 9,147 82,556,992 IFC Films
3 XXX 13,109,119 13,258,453 -1.1 3,536 4 3,707 123,876,260 Sony
4 Spy Kids 2 8,275,600 7,588,890 9.0 3,250 4 2,546 70,051,675 Miramax
5 fear dot com 7,087,457 2,550 1 2,779 7,087,457 Warner Bros.
6 Austin Powers in Goldmember 7,069,386 5,543,029 27.5 2,506 6 2,821 203,471,220 New Line
7 Blue Crush 5,569,455 6,542,510 -14.9 2,820 3 1,975 34,712,525 Universal
8 Serving Sara 4,385,699 5,758,236 -23.8 2,174 2 2,017 11,949,391 Paramount
9 The Good Girl 3,804,818 1,462,962 160.1 667 4 5,704 7,544,746 Fox Searchlight
10 Road to Perdition 3,529,984 2,723,997 29.6 1,763 8 2,002 99,332,314 DreamWorks
11 One Hour Photo 3,326,289 321,515 934.6 164 2 20,282 3,841,185 Fox Searchlight
12 Undisputed 3,219,495 4,548,750 -29.2 1,117 2 2,882 9,087,445 Miramax
13 Simone 2,859,812 3,813,463 -25.0 1,920 2 1,489 8,075,536 New Line
14 Blood Work 2,752,481 2,840,880 -3.1 1,751 4 1,572 24,087,954 Warner Bros.
15 Possession 2,568,610 1,148,836 123.6 614 3 4,183 6,533,019 Focus
16 The Master of Disguise 2,353,915 2,121,014 11.0 1,432 5 1,644 37,395,336 Sony
17 Lilo & Stitch 1,728,846 363,607 375.5 1,653 11 1,046 142,137,507 Buena Vista
18 Stuart Little 2 1,689,370 1,337,805 26.3 1,149 7 1,470 61,990,919 Sony
19 The Bourne Identity 1,004,035 603,385 66.4 467 12 2,150 118,131,305 Universal
20 Space Station 733,233 503,503 45.6 62 20 11,826 22,421,780 Imax
Top 5 $ 60,324,836 $ 48,936,723 23.3
Top 10 84,684,178 71,441,081 18.5
Top 20 106,920,264 83,371,206 28.2
Top 20 vs. 2001 106,920,264 106,559,846 0.3

Last Updated : September 3, 2002 at 8:00PM EDT