Weekend Box Office (October 3 - 5, 1997)
It was another busy session at theaters as Kiss
the Girls, starring Morgan Freeman, puckered
up and opened at number one with a $13.2M gross. This is a fantastic performance
for Paramount as well as for Morgan Freeman. The studio now has two solid
fall hits as its In & Out
continues to charm audiences. With these two titles, Paramount releases
absorbed 37% of all ticket dollars spent on the top ten films. For Freeman,
the opening of Kiss
joins the ranks of his other efforts for Seven
($14M opening weekend) and Outbreak
($13.4M opening) but is especially important because this time around he
carried the film whereas in the past he always got second-billing to a
bigger star. The $13.2M debut for Kiss
is also the fifth largest October opening this decade behind Stargate
($16.7M opening in 1994), Under Siege
($15.8M in 1992), The Specialist
($14.3M in 1994), and Demolition Man
($14.3M in 1993). Film critics have not been embracing Kiss
the Girls so don't expect it to have legs,
however this weekend Hollywood learned that Morgan Freeman could open a
picture on his own.
Up one notch to second place was Soul Food which eased by just 25% with a second helping of $8.4M. The Fox drama showed incredible staying power in its second frame and has collected $22.7M on its plate after ten days. With a per-screen average of $6,205 it led all top ten films for the second consecutive frame. Last weekend's top movie The Peacemaker dropped to third with $8.2M. The 34% decline is about normal for an action picture. In & Out claimed the fourth spot with a cheerful $7.7M (down just 31%) and The Edge took fifth place with a gross of $5M - down 35%. L.A. Confidential nearly doubled its screen count and saw a boost of just 6% to $4.7M.
Two other films debuted poorly. U-Turn, directed by Oliver Stone and starring Sean Penn, sputtered with just $2.7M from 1,230 locations. Instead of performing like Stone's last sex and violence picture Natural Born Killers ($11.2M opening weekend), it limped out of the gate like his other recent releases Nixon ($2.2M opening) and Heaven and Earth ($2.3M opening). U-Turn is the third movie in six weeks to feature Penn but audiences have not indicated that they want to see the bad boy of Tinseltown. She's So Lovely (for which Penn won Best Actor at Cannes) fizzled from the start and is set to close with a total of just $7.5M, while The Game, in which Penn has a smaller supporting role, started strongly because of Michael Douglas but has been losing steam quickly. The weekend's other freshman was The Matchmaker starring Janeane Garafalo which claimed the eleventh spot with just $1.4M.
My projections were mixed when compared to studio figures for this weekend. Kiss the Girls took in $13.2M while I projected just $8M. My figure was based on the fact that there were many other action-thrillers in the market making it tough for Kiss to hit it big. Obviously, moviegoers have not had enough thrills which could bode well for upcoming releases like Devil's Advocate and Mad City. U-Turn, with $2.7M, came up with less than half of the amount I predicted which was $6M. However, The Matchmaker, with $1.4M, came close to my forecast of $2M and L.A. Confidential's $4.7M was somewhat near my projection of $6M. Holdovers performed mostly better than I expected as The Peacemaker dropped 34% (vs. 35% as I estimated), Soul Food dipped 25% (vs. my 35%), The Edge declined 35% (vs. my 40%), and In & Out slipped 31% (close to my 30%).
Overall the top ten films grossed $56.6M over the weekend which was up 29% from last year and up 7% from 1995. Be sure to check in again on Thursday morning for analysis and forecasts for the Columbus Day weekend. Below are final studio figures for the weekend. Click on the title to jump to its official home page:
For a wrapup of the summer, be sure to check The Top 30 Films of the Summer 1997 Box Office Season.
This column is updated three times each week : Thursday (upcoming weekend's summary), Sunday (post-weekend analysis with estimates), and Monday night (actuals). Source : Variety, EDI.
Send comments to Gitesh Pandya at email@example.com