Weekend Box Office (October 1 - 3, 1999)

THIS WEEKEND George Clooney and pals saw a solid debut for the Gulf War heist film Three Kings but it was not enough to unseat Double Jeopardy from the box office throne. A selection of other new films failed to spark much interest with moviegoers but American Beauty continued to expand into more markets and jumped up to third place.

Ashley Judd and Tommy Lee Jones remained atop the box office for the second straight weekend with the crime thriller Double Jeopardy which grossed $17M over the weekend according to final studio figures. Off only 26.5% from its debut frame, the Paramount release upped its cume to a promising $47.2M in only ten days. Helping keep its weekend take stable was the addition of 337 playdates which put its per-theater average at $5,901, off 35% from last weekend's $9,094. Double Jeopardy, a revenge picture about a woman who sets out to kill her husband who framed her for his supposed murder, is scoring with audiences because of its intriguing storyline, appealing stars, and powerful advertising support from Paramount. Double Jeopardy was originally set to star Jodie Foster until her pregnancy forced her to drop out of the project. At its current pace, the $40M female empowerment movie could finish its domestic run with $90-100M.

Storming into second place was the Gulf War pic Three Kings from Warner Bros. which launched in an October record 2,942 theaters and grossed $15.8M. Starring George Clooney, Mark Wahlberg, and Ice Cube as soldiers trying to steal gold from Saddam Hussein, the $50M picture averaged a good, but not superb, $5,387 per location and generated the third largest October debut ever. Critics showered the film with praise and Warners backed it with a strong marketing campaign. For Clooney, Three Kings posted the best opening of his career (aside from the franchise film Batman & Robin) surpassing debuts for The Peacemaker ($12.3M), Out of Sight ($12M), and From Dusk Till Dawn ($10.2M). If the stylish war film can parlay the glowing reviews into good word-of-mouth, Three Kings may enjoy a successful autumn run in theaters across North America.

DreamWorks continued its successful rollout of the dark romantic comedy American Beauty expanding from 429 to 706 theaters and taking the number three slot. With $8.2M over the Friday-to-Sunday period, the Kevin Spacey pic averaged a potent $11,599. American Beauty's third place finish is especially impressive considering that the rest of the films in the top five are playing in at least 2,000 more theaters. DreamWorks has handled the distribution of the risque picture with expert precision and has been able to use the growing buzz to attract larger crowds. With $18.4M in tickets sold thus far, American Beauty widens on Friday to over 1,200 theaters.

Martin Lawrence slipped two spots to fourth with the comedy Blue Streak which brought in $8M in its third weekend of play. Off a reasonable 36%, the Sony hit has grossed $47.7M in 17 days and looks headed for a final domestic tally of roughly $70M.

The year's second-biggest movie, The Sixth Sense, dipped just 17% in its ninth weekend and took in $7M. That put the Bruce Willis thriller at $234.5M in domestic sales nearly matching the $234.8M of 1984's Beverly Hills Cop for the number 18 spot on the all-time highest grossers list. Of course, movie tickets were much less expensive fifteen years ago when the Eddie Murphy smash comedy was released.

Fox's high school comedy Drive Me Crazy premiered in sixth place with $6.8M. Starring Melissa Joan Hart of the popular television sitcom Sabrina the Teenage Witch, Crazy opened in 2,222 theaters and averaged a mediocre $3,081 per class. The debut performance of the low-cost Drive Me Crazy was moderate but did not capitalize on the lack of teen pictures in the current marketplace.

Kevin Costner struggled on the mound as his latest effort, For Love of the Game, tumbled 45% in its third inning and grossed $3.5M. Now with $28.4M in 17 days, the $50M Universal release looks to finish with around $35-40M before being shipped to the minors.

Families weren't asking how to get to Sesame Street this weekend as the new kidpic The Adventures of Elmo in Grouchland debuted with a mild opening of $3.3M. Sony released the title in 1,210 locations and tickled moviegoers to the tune of $2,690 per site.

Buena Vista saw disappointing sales for its hockey film Mystery, Alaska which opened with $3.1M this weekend. Written and produced by Emmy hog David E. Kelley, the $32M comedic drama scored a weak average of $1,854 in 1,673 theaters.

MGM's supernatural thriller Stigmata rounded out the top ten with $2.4M pushing its cume to a solid $44.3M.

A foursome of films fell out of the top ten over the weekend. Kevin Bacon's Stir of Echoes grossed $1.2M and watched its cume rise to $17.7M. The Artisan release should conclude with about $20M. After two months in the top ten, Paramount's romantic comedy smash Runaway Bride dropped out and took in $1M boosting its massive cume to $147.9M. The $70M Julia-Roberts-Richard Gere pic is likely to reach $150-152M domestically while its international total continues to swell with potent openings in country after country.

The sophomore titles Jakob the Liar and Mumford both tanked in their second weekends losing more than half their audience. The Robin Williams Holocaust-era film took in $1M giving it a poor $3.7M in ten days and a likely $6M final. The $29M-budgeted Mumford grossed $887,841 putting its ten-day sum at just $3.4M and its projected final cume at $5-6M. Each film will end up being a costly disappointment for Sony and Buena Vista respectively.

George Lucas' monster hit Star Wars Episode I crossed the $425M mark on Saturday and continues to rake in big bucks overseas. The Phantom Menace should be able to push its worldwide total past $825M this weekend and march across $900M later this fall putting it in Jurassic territory.

USA Films offered another new release over the weekend in the form of the period piece Plunkett and Macleane, starring Robert Carlyle and Liv Tyler, which opened in 475 theaters, grossed $244,765, and averaged a horrible $515 per site. Miramax's Sundance pickup Happy, Texas debuted in limited release grossing $72,056 in only eight locations for a good $9,007 per-theater average.

Compared to projections, Three Kings opened close to my $14M forecast while Drive Me Crazy did not reach my bullish $12M prediction. Elmo in Grouchland and Mystery, Alaska were weaker than my respective projections of $7M and $5M while Double Jeopardy came close to my $15M forecast.

Take this week's NEW Reader Survey on Harrison Ford's Random Hearts. In last week's survey, readers were asked which of five October releases they wanted to see most. Of 3,003 responses, 29% chose Random Hearts, 26% picked Fight Club, 24% selected Three Kings, 11% went for Bringing Out The Dead, and 9% said Drive Me Crazy.

Be sure to read the Weekly Rewind column which reviews the biggest October openings. For reviews of Three Kings and American Beauty visit The Chief Report.

The top ten films over the weekend grossed $75.2M which was down 6% from last year when newcomers Antz and What Dreams May Come led with $17.2M and $15.8M respectively, but up 33% from 1997 when Kiss the Girls opened at number one with $13.2M.

Be sure to check back on Thursday for a complete summary, including projections, for next weekend when Random Hearts and Superstar both open.

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

# Title Oct. 1 - 3 Sep. 24 - 26 % Chg. Theaters Weeks AVG Cumulative Dist.
1 Double Jeopardy $ 17,018,808 $ 23,162,542 -26.5 2,884 2 $ 5,901 $ 47,232,092 Paramount
2 Three Kings 15,847,636 2,942 1 5,387 15,847,636 Warner Bros.
3 American Beauty 8,188,587 5,939,646 37.9 706 3 11,599 18,395,497 DreamWorks
4 Blue Streak 8,008,574 12,547,093 -36.2 2,735 3 2,928 47,745,248 Sony
5 The Sixth Sense 7,025,098 8,435,193 -16.7 2,821 9 2,490 234,547,781 Buena Vista
6 Drive Me Crazy 6,846,112 2,222 1 3,081 6,846,112 Fox
7 For Love of the Game 3,548,930 6,435,770 -44.9 2,933 3 1,210 28,408,595 Universal
8 Elmo in Grouchland 3,255,033 1,210 1 2,690 3,255,033 Sony
9 Mystery, Alaska 3,102,191 1,673 1 1,854 3,102,191 Buena Vista
10 Stigmata 2,360,738 4,700,199 -49.8 2,045 4 1,154 44,300,500 MGM/UA
11 Stir of Echoes 1,228,061 2,288,940 -46.3 1,502 4 818 17,686,290 Artisan
12 Jakob the Liar 1,002,114 2,056,647 -51.3 1,200 2 835 3,733,923 Sony
13 Runaway Bride 953,884 1,613,381 -40.9 1,318 10 724 147,930,871 Paramount
14 Mumford 887,841 1,851,291 -52.0 1,452 2 611 3,389,177 Buena Vista
15 Star Wars : Episode I 697,097 801,935 -13.1 689 20 1,012 425,360,285 Fox
16 The Thomas Crown Affair 443,837 969,007 -54.2 717 9 619 66,807,316 MGM/UA
17 The Haunting 350,352 91,255 283.9 508 11 690 90,114,112 DreamWorks
18 Bowfinger 308,640 785,895 -60.7 643 8 480 64,874,060 Universal
19 The Thirteenth Warrior 281,539 758,170 -62.9 469 6 600 31,496,233 Buena Vista
20 Mysteries of Egypt 278,542 252,136 10.5 21 61 13,264 20,939,005 IMAX
Top 5 $ 56,088,703 $ 56,520,244 -0.8
Top 10 75,201,707 69,030,702 8.9
Top 20 81,633,614 74,530,566 9.5

Last Updated : October 5, 1999 at 2:00AM EDT

Written by Gitesh Pandya