Weekend Box Office (September 6 - 8, 2002)

THIS WEEKEND With the summer movie season now a distant memory, the annual September slump kicked in as the box office tumbled to its lowest point in nearly a year. Teen thriller Swimfan opened at number one but the independent comedy hit My Big Fat Greek Wedding continued to remain strong in second place while most holdovers suffered steep declines.

Back-to-schoolers lined up for Swimfan this weekend spending $11.3M, according to final studio figures, on the Fox picture which was enough to top the charts. The PG-13 film played in 2,855 theaters and averaged a decent $3,966 per location. The story of a high school girl who develops an obsessive crush on a swim team champ played primarily to teens and young adults, its target audience. Moviegoers polled by CinemaScore.com gave Swimfan a B- grade.

The prolonged honeymoon for My Big Fat Greek Wedding continued as the IFC Films sleeper smash grossed $10.4M over the weekend to remain in second place. The PG-rated comedy slipped a mere 7% from the Friday-to-Sunday portion of last weekend's holiday frame. The hold was especially impressive since Wedding added only 76 extra playdates this weekend. Now in its 21st weekend of release, the film has upped ts cume to an amazing $95.8M and looks to shatter the $100M mark by Friday. Its $6,119 average was again the best in the top ten. Next weekend, Wedding will once again make a bid for the top spot taking on the two new comedies Barbershop and Stealing Harvard.

Robert De Niro's latest film, the cop drama City by the Sea, washed up in third place with $8.9M. The Warner Bros. title about a homicide detective whose son is the prime suspect in a murder investigation averaged a mild $3,470 from 2,575 locations. Reviews were mixed while moviegoers polled by CinemaScore.com gave the R-rated film a B grade.

This weekend marked the weakest frame of 2002 and posted the smallest gross of the year for a number-one movie. The session was the worst since the weekend of September 21 last year when most new releases were postponed in the wake of 9/11 leaving a sluggish box office in which the top ten films grossed less than $40M.

After two straight weekends at number one, Buena Vista's Signs slipped down to fourth with $7.9M, off a respectable 42% when comparing three-day periods, and lifted its cume to $205.7M. The Mel Gibson thriller is the fourth film of the year to cross the $200M mark and now sits at number 38 on the list of all-time domestic blockbusters after 1999's Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me which grossed $205.4M.

XXX dropped 50% to $5.2M bringing the total for the Sony/Revolution Studios hit to $130.7M. Miramax's Spy Kids 2 fell 51% to $3M for a $73.9M cume.

Austin Powers in Goldmember took in $2.7M, down 51%, and boosted its sum to $207.1M putting it at number 37 on the all-time list just ahead of Signs. Goldmember has now become the top-grossing film of the Austin Powers series. The bubble burst for the horror flick fear dot com which crashed and plunged 59% to $2.4M. The Warner Bros. release has collected just $10.5M in ten days and looks to close with around $14M.

Sony Pictures unleashed a double feature of summer blockbusters by offering both Spider-Man and Men in Black II for the price of one ticket. The promotion was met with a lukewarm reception as the dynamic duo grossed $2.1M from 2,078 theaters for a weak $1,016 average putting it in ninth place. The studio will not add the grosses to the existing totals of each film, but instead count it as a separate title. Individually, Spider-Man has grossed $403.7M while MIB2 has taken in $190.6M domestically. Together the pair has thus far collected a staggering $1.2 billion worldwide allowing the studio to reach $2.4 billion in global grosses for the year. Later this fall, Sony aims to break the all-time worldwide gross record of $2.68 billion set by Fox in 1998 when the studio was driven by the international success of Titanic.

Rounding out the top ten for the weekend, Blue Crush sank 57% to $1.9M and a $37.3M total.

Three films fell out of the top ten this weekend. Paramount's comedy Serving Sara watched sales get sliced in half to $1.7M pushing its 17-day total to $14.3M. The Matthew Perry-Elizabeth Hurley pic should conclude with about $18M and find a bigger audience on video and cable. Fellow Friend Jennifer Aniston took in $1.6M from 688 theaters for The Good Girl. Down 45% from last weekend, the Fox Searchlight release has reached $9.8M to date.

The distributor's other indie flick, One Hour Photo starring Robin Williams, collected $1.5M from 173 locations in its final frame of limited play. With a $8,706 average, and a $5.9M total, the R-rated drama expands into roughly 1,200 runs on Friday.

Paramount Classics reported a weekend gross of $251,150 for Mostly Martha which played in 70 sites. The German drama averaged $3,588 and reached a cume of $1.2M.

The top ten films grossed $55.8M which was down 3% from last year when The Musketeer opened at number one with $10.3M; but up 34% from 2000 when The Watcher debuted in the top spot with $9.1M.

Compared to projections, Swimfan opened just a notch above my $10M forecast while City by the Sea was exactly on target with my $9M prediction.

Take this week's NEW Reader Survey on Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. In last week's survey, readers were which of this weekend's new releases would have a bigger opening. Of 2,491 responses, 73% correctly guessed Swimfan while 27% picked City by the Sea.

Be sure to check back on Thursday for a complete summary, including projections, for next weekend when Barbershop and Stealing Harvard both open.

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

# Title Sep 6 - 8 Aug 30 - Sep 1 % Chg. Theaters Weeks AVG Cumulative Distributor
1 Swimfan $ 11,326,601 2,856 1 $ 3,966 $ 11,326,601 Fox
2 My Big Fat Greek Wedding 10,372,316 11,100,765 -6.6 1,695 21 6,119 95,824,732 IFC Films
3 City by the Sea 8,935,426 2,575 1 3,470 8,935,426 Warner Bros.
4 Signs 7,851,871 13,441,194 -41.6 3,232 6 2,429 205,696,958 Buena Vista
5 XXX 5,206,740 10,306,426 -49.5 3,088 5 1,686 130,708,185 Sony
6 Spy Kids 2 3,020,007 6,110,883 -50.6 2,821 5 1,071 73,936,549 Miramax
7 Austin Powers in Goldmember 2,721,316 5,537,411 -50.9 2,102 7 1,295 207,051,562 New Line
8 fear dot com 2,352,359 5,710,128 -58.8 2,550 2 922 10,545,479 Warner Bros.
9 Spider-Man/MIB2 2,111,862 2,078 1,016 2,111,862 Sony
10 Blue Crush 1,878,325 4,413,290 -57.4 2,009 4 935 37,296,385 Universal
11 Serving Sara 1,737,089 3,421,951 -49.2 2,063 3 842 14,317,809 Paramount
12 The Good Girl 1,602,992 2,919,450 -45.1 688 5 2,330 9,792,673 Fox Searchlight
13 One Hour Photo 1,506,058 2,517,531 -40.2 173 3 8,706 5,923,194 Fox Searchlight
14 Road to Perdition 1,278,478 2,654,918 -51.8 1,420 9 900 101,142,829 DreamWorks
15 Undisputed 1,218,951 2,516,735 -51.6 1,002 3 1,217 10,802,483 Miramax
16 Possession 976,926 1,932,347 -49.4 616 4 1,586 7,935,611 Focus
17 Blood Work 678,483 2,099,095 -67.7 1,150 5 590 25,184,516 Warner Bros.
18 The Master of Disguise 670,201 1,681,200 -60.1 864 6 776 38,228,650 Sony
19 Simone 564,577 2,217,690 -74.5 1,126 3 501 9,065,919 New Line
20 The Bourne Identity 534,085 770,540 -30.7 436 13 1,225 118,856,715 Universal
Top 5 $ 38,486,214 $ 46,669,396 -17.5
Top 10 55,776,823 68,133,947 -18.1
Top 20 66,544,663 82,136,297 -19.0
Top 20 vs. 2001 66,544,663 69,292,294 -4.0

Last Updated : September 9, 2002 at 11:00PM EDT