Weekend Box Office (September 14 - 16, 2001)

THIS WEEKEND The North American box office slumped to its lowest level of the year as a lack of marquee titles and the public's interest in the aftermath of Tuesday's terrorist attacks helped keep many moviegoers away from theaters. The weekend's two new releases, Hardball and The Glass House, enjoyed moderate openings while a number of holdover titles managed to suffer only slim declines.

Keanu Reeves clinched first place with the baseball film Hardball which led the box office with an opening weekend of $9.4M, according to final studio figures. The Paramount release about a man who coaches a group of inner-city little league baseball players entered 2,137 theaters and averaged a good $4,392 per location. The studio faced a unique challenge as much of Hardball's publicity and advertising was wiped out after Tuesday's tragedy, according to a Paramount spokesperson, as most major television networks switched to commercial-free news coverage around the clock.

Audiences responded well to the PG-13 film as those polled by CinemaScore gave it an A- grade. Hardball also witnessed a hefty 66% Friday-to-Saturday increase indicating strong weekend matinee business with families. With good word-of-mouth spreading and only one new film opening next weekend (Mariah Carey's Glitter), Paramount is expecting the $21M baseball film to show some strength in the weeks to come. However, Hardball did post the lowest gross for a number one film this year.

Sony's new suspense thriller The Glass House starring Leelee Sobieski and Diane Lane opened in second place with $5.7M. Averaging a decent $3,607 per theater in 1,591 locations, the PG-13 film about an orphaned teenage girl terrorized by her new guardians played primarily to young women. Exit polls were somewhat encouraging for the $22M film with CinemaScore audiences giving the picture a B grade. The Glass House enjoyed a healthy 31% increase on Saturday over Friday.

Last weekend's number one film The Musketeer fell two spots to third and grossed $5.5M. Tumbling 47%, the Universal release has taken in $17.8M in ten days and should find its way to a domestic tally of about $30M. The studio and its partner Miramax jointly picked up distribution rights for the $40M film in North America and the United Kingdom for only $7.5M with Universal paying domestic print and advertising costs.

The rest of the films in the top ten each generated weekend grosses that fell in the slim $3-5M range with most averaging under $2,000 per theater.

Dropping 40% in its second weekend, the romantic comedy Two Can Play That Game collected $4.6M boosting its ten-day total at $13.8M. Produced for just $6M, the Sony release should find its way to roughly $25M.

Nicole Kidman's chiller The Others remained in the top five for the sixth consecutive weekend grossing $4.6M for fourth place. Slipping only 24%, the Miramax hit has boosted its total to a solid $73.4M. The PG-13 film's remarkable staying power has surprised many industry watchers as The Others could find its way to a domestic tally of $90-100M making it Kidman's highest-grossing film outside of 1995's franchise film Batman Forever.

New Line's blockbuster sequel Rush Hour 2 took in $4.1M, off 29%, to lift its mammoth gross to $211.1M. The Chris Tucker-Jackie Chan comedy now sits at number 30 on the list of all-time domestic blockbusters between last year's Mission: Impossible 2 ($215.4M) and 1985's Back to the Future ($208.2M). Of course, ticket prices and screen availability have risen significantly in the last sixteen years.

The horror entry Jeepers Creepers fell 38% and placed seventh with $3.8M pushing its 17-day total to $29.7M. The hit sequel American Pie 2 grossed $3.6M and saw its total reach $135.9M. Paramount's comedy Rat Race enjoyed the smallest decline in the top ten slipping just 20% to $3.6M which raised its overall sum to a solid $47.7M.

Rounding out the top ten was Mark Wahlberg's Rock Star which declined 44% in its second weekend to $3.4M. With a disappointing $11M in ten days, the Warner Bros. release should finish with about $18-20M.

Two very different films aimed at young people dropped out of the top ten this weekend. Disney's G-rated comedy The Princess Diaries became the year's thirteenth release to cross the $100M mark by grossing $2.5M in its seventh frame. Easing just 26%, the Garry Marshall-helmed hit was produced for only $26M and should reach $105-110M. Lions Gate's high school drama O fell 45% in its third term to $1.5M lifting its cume to $12.9M. The $4M film looks to conclude with $15-17M.

Compared to projections, Hardball was on target with my $9M forecast while The Glass House opened a little better than my $4M prediction.

The top ten films grossed $48.3M which was up 39% from last year when The Watcher remained in the top spot with $5.8M; but down 27% from 1999 when Blue Streak debuted at number one with $19.2M.

Take this week's NEW Reader Survey on Monsters, Inc. and Harry Potter. In last week's survey, readers were asked whether Hardball would open with at least $12M. Of 1,540 responses, 40% thought Yes while 60% correctly voted No.

Read the Weekly Rewind column which reports on the top September openings. Check back later this week for the NEW Rewind column which looks back at the summer box office with a Top 20 chart of projected final grosses. For a review of The Glass House visit The Chief Report.

Be sure to check back on Thursday for a complete summary, including projections, for next weekend when Glitter opens.

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

# Title Sep 14 - 16 Sep 7 - 9 % Chg. Theaters Weeks AVG Cumulative Dist.
1 Hardball $ 9,386,342 2,137 1 $ 4,392 $ 9,386,342 Paramount
2 The Glass House 5,738,448 1,591 1 3,607 5,738,448 Sony
3 The Musketeer 5,471,960 10,312,740 -46.9 2,476 2 2,210 17,771,970 Universal
4 Two Can Play That Game 4,604,843 7,720,942 -40.4 1,297 2 3,550 13,813,963 Sony
5 The Others 4,574,678 6,003,882 -23.8 2,843 6 1,609 73,422,887 Miramax
6 Rush Hour 2 4,092,375 5,752,389 -28.9 2,266 7 1,806 211,149,100 New Line
7 Jeepers Creepers 3,844,246 6,219,957 -38.2 2,847 3 1,350 29,665,575 MGM
8 American Pie 2 3,601,440 4,720,900 -23.7 2,339 6 1,540 135,928,054 Universal
9 Rat Race 3,553,183 4,459,229 -20.3 2,495 5 1,424 47,689,781 Paramount
10 Rock Star 3,388,545 6,018,636 -43.7 2,525 2 1,342 11,045,383 Warner Bros.
11 The Princess Diaries 2,489,837 3,369,944 -26.1 2,155 7 1,155 100,057,199 Buena Vista
12 O 1,457,564 2,664,891 -45.3 1,255 3 1,161 12,935,925 Lions Gate
13 Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back 1,440,961 2,259,053 -36.2 1,406 4 1,025 27,796,301 Miramax
14 Captain Corelli's Mandolin 1,064,575 1,607,760 -33.8 1,223 5 870 23,412,970 Universal
15 Summer Catch 1,006,523 1,762,463 -42.9 1,305 4 771 18,147,276 Warner Bros.
16 Planet of the Apes 938,214 1,390,857 -32.5 913 8 1,028 176,278,489 Fox
17 Legally Blonde 764,611 865,124 -11.6 655 10 1,167 90,600,793 MGM
18 The Deep End 749,774 966,088 -22.4 412 6 1,820 6,850,799 Fox Searchlight
19 Jurassic Park III 742,995 970,170 -23.4 743 9 1,000 177,993,080 Universal
20 Soul Survivors 587,269 1,140,698 -48.5 604 2 972 2,014,304 Artisan
Top 5 $ 29,776,271 $ 36,276,157 -17.9
Top 10 48,256,060 57,243,510 -15.7
Top 20 59,498,383 69,292,294 -14.1
Top 20 vs. 2000 59,498,383 46,294,132 28.5

Last Updated : September 17, 2001 at 9:15PM EDT

Written by Gitesh Pandya