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 $13.2M.
Be sure to check back
on Thursday for a complete summary, including projections, for next
weekend when Random Hearts and
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|#||Title||Oct. 1 - 3||Sep. 24 - 26||% Chg.||Theaters||Weeks||AVG||Cumulative||Dist.|
|1||Double Jeopardy||$ 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.|
|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|
|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|
|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|
|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|
This column is updated three times each week : Thursday (upcoming weekend's summary), Sunday (post-weekend analysis with estimates), and Monday night (actuals). Source : EDI, Exhibitor Relations. Opinions expressed in this column are those solely of the author.
Last Updated : October 5, 1999 at 2:00AM EDT
Written by Gitesh Pandya