Weekend Box Office (September 7 - 9, 2001)

THIS WEEKEND Leaping into the number one spot during a slowing weekend at the North American box office was Universal's The Musketeer which opened with $10.3M, according to final studio figures, to inaugurate the fall movie season. The action-adventure tale which stars Tim Roth and Mena Suvari debuted in 2,438 theaters and averaged a decent $4,230 per location. The Musketeer played primarily to a young male audience, according to a Universal spokesman, but also did well with young females.

With poor reviews and no major stars, the studio instead focused its marketing campaign on the film's Hong Kong-influenced fight choreography and succeeded in making the picture seem like a fresh take on an old story. The Musketeer's PG-13 rating also helped bring in young teens as most other films in the top ten were either R-rated or stale summer leftovers. However, a low CinemaScore grade of C indicates that poor word-of-mouth could limit its future potential. Universal and Miramax paid only $7.5M to acquire distribution rights for the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom and will split costs and revenue evenly. The reported production cost of the film was $40M.

Generating the strongest per-theater average among all wide releases was the romantic comedy Two Can Play That Game which opened impressively in second place with $7.7M. Playing in 1,297 theaters, the Sony release averaged a sturdy $5,953 per site and earned an encouraging A- grade with audiences polled by CinemaScore. Starring Viviva A. Fox and Morris Chestnut, Game played to a primarily African-American audience, according to a Sony Pictures spokesman, and benefited from a lack of other films aimed at that segment of the moviegoing audience. The film's modest $6M production cost should make it a profitable picture for the studio.

Last weekend's top film, the horror flick Jeepers Creepers, dropped down to fourth place grossing $6.2M. Falling 53% from the Friday-to-Sunday portion of its holiday opening, the $10M MGM release has collected $24.4M in ten days and should be able to reach about $35M.

Mark Wahlberg's heavy metal saga Rock Star played in front of empty seats in its debut weekend grossing just $6M. The Warner Bros. release ventured into 2,525 venues and averaged a poor $2,384 per theater. Rock Star carried an R rating which may have prevented many teens from buying tickets but those who did see it gave the film a decent CinemaScore grade of B-.

Miramax's suspense thriller The Others enjoyed the best hold coming off of the holiday weekend slipping only 26% to $6M which brought its total to $67.5M. Rush Hour 2 fell 38% to $5.8M giving the New Line blockbuster a cume of $206M which makes it the distributor's highest grossing film surpassing the $205.5M of 1999's Austin Powers : The Spy Who Shagged Me.

The gross-out comedy American Pie 2 took seventh place with $4.7M, off 48%, bringing its sum to $131.2M. Eighth place was taken by the Paramount comedy Rat Race with $4.5M putting its total at $43.3M.

Disney's The Princess Diaries dropped 41% to $3.4M for a cume of $97M. The high school drama O fell sharply in its second weekend plunging 53% to $2.7M for tenth place. Produced for $4M, the Lions Gate release has grossed $10.8M in ten days and looks to finish its domestic run with about $15M.

Opening outside of the top ten was Artisan's thriller Soul Survivors which grossed a dismal $1.1M. The $14M film averaged only $1,898 from 601 theaters.

Paramount Classics enjoyed a strong start to its Colombian film Our Lady of the Assassins which premiered in four theaters in New York and Los Angeles with a $56,069 gross. Averaging a healthy $14,017 per site, the Spanish-language picture will slowly expand throughout the fall.

Three weak performers dropped out of the top ten this weekend. Kevin Smith's raunchy comedy Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back crumbled 57% to $2.3M lifting its total to $25.6M. Budgeted at $20M, the Miramax release should find its way to roughly $28M. Summer Catch dropped 56% to $1.8M pushing its total to $16.8M. A $20M final should be expected for the Warner Bros. title. Universal's Captain Corelli's Mandolin fell 48% to $1.6M bringing its cume to $21.9M. Produced for $57M, the Nicolas Cage romance should end with $25M.

Compared to projections, The Musketeer and Two Can Play That Game both came close to my respective forecasts of $9M and $7M. Rock Star did not reach my $10M prediction and Soul Survivors came in a bit below my $2M projection.

The top ten films grossed $57.2M which was up 37% from last year when The Watcher opened in the top spot with $9.1M; but down 4% from 1999 when Stigmata debuted at number one with $18.3M.

Take this week's NEW Reader Survey on Hardball. In last week's survey, readers were asked how many of this summer's movies they would remember and be talking about ten years from now. Of 1,639 responses, 21% said None, 52% thought A Couple, 10% said A Few, and 17% thought Many.

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

Be sure to check back on Thursday for a complete summary, including projections, for next weekend when Hardball and The Glass House both open.

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

# Title Sep 7 - 9 Aug 31 - Sep 2 % Chg. Theaters Weeks AVG Cumulative Dist.
1 The Musketeer $ 10,312,740 2,438 1 $ 4,230 $ 10,312,740 Universal
2 Two Can Play That Game 7,720,942 1,297 1 5,953 7,720,942 Sony
3 Jeepers Creepers 6,219,957 13,106,108 -52.5 2,944 2 2,113 24,380,219 MGM
4 Rock Star 6,018,636 2,525 1 2,384 6,018,636 Warner Bros.
5 The Others 6,003,882 8,151,151 -26.3 2,737 5 2,194 67,516,127 Miramax
6 Rush Hour 2 5,752,389 9,296,573 -38.1 2,546 6 2,259 206,036,976 New Line
7 American Pie 2 4,720,900 8,987,004 -47.5 2,777 5 1,700 131,174,959 Universal
8 Rat Race 4,459,229 7,226,336 -38.3 2,551 4 1,748 43,278,955 Paramount
9 The Princess Diaries 3,369,944 5,732,009 -41.2 2,410 6 1,398 97,026,308 Buena Vista
10 O 2,664,891 5,656,000 -52.9 1,464 2 1,820 10,754,987 Lions Gate
11 Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back 2,259,053 5,227,690 -56.8 2,153 3 1,049 25,607,381 Miramax
12 Summer Catch 1,762,463 4,008,190 -56.0 1,905 3 925 16,808,191 Warner Bros.
13 Captain Corelli's Mandolin 1,607,760 3,078,920 -47.8 1,392 4 1,155 21,930,795 Universal
14 Planet of the Apes 1,390,857 2,934,740 -52.6 1,168 7 1,191 174,998,799 Fox
15 Soul Survivors 1,140,698 601 1 1,898 1,140,698 Artisan
16 Jurassic Park III 970,170 1,771,645 -45.2 886 8 1,095 177,059,445 Universal
17 The Deep End 966,088 1,380,563 -30.0 401 5 2,409 5,894,952 Fox Searchlight
18 Legally Blonde 865,124 1,355,737 -36.2 766 9 1,129 89,632,204 MGM
19 The Curse of the Jade Scorpion 615,940 1,574,679 -60.9 706 3 872 6,245,072 DreamWorks
20 Tortilla Soup 470,631 697,000 -32.5 193 3 2,439 2,421,203 IDP
Top 5 $ 36,276,157 $ 46,767,172 -22.4
Top 10 57,243,510 70,469,981 -18.8
Top 20 69,292,294 85,010,216 -18.5
Top 20 vs. 2000 69,292,294 52,951,263 30.9

Last Updated : September 10, 2001 at 7:30PM EDT

Written by Gitesh Pandya