Weekend Box Office (October 6 - 8, 2000)

THIS WEEKEND Robert De Niro enjoyed the best opening of his illustrious career with the comedy Meet the Parents while his Cop Land co-star Sylvester Stallone suffered his worst debut in nearly a decade with the action picture Get Carter. Disney's Remember the Titans remained a powerhouse in its second weekend and helped bring the overall box office out of its recent autumn slump.

The October opening weekend record was shattered by the new comedy Meet the Parents which collected a hefty $28.6M, according to final studio figures. Beating the old benchmark previously held by 1998's Antz with $17.2M, Meet the Parents played in 2,614 theaters and delivered an impressive average of $10,950 per location. The PG-13 film stars Robert De Niro and Ben Stiller and tells the comical story of a young man's weekend trip to meet his fiancee's folks. Universal and DreamWorks co-financed the $51M production and will share equally in all worldwide revenue.

Meet the Parents was backed by solid reviews going into the weekend and has already positioned itself for long-term success. Exit polls from CinemaScore on opening night were extremely positive and the film's ticket sales surged 40% on Saturday over Friday. Directed by Austin Powers' Jay Roach, Meet the Parents scored the biggest opening for any film released since July's Nutty Professor II and is Universal's second-best premiere of the year after the Eddie Murphy blockbuster. De Niro's value as a comic actor skyrocketed last year when Analyze This with Billy Crystal opened with $18.4M on its way to a $106.8M gross. Given the larger debut of Meet the Parents, the Oscar-winning star should have an even bigger hit on his hands.

Last weekend's box office champion, the football drama Remember the Titans, slipped a spot to second in the standings but still delivered a mighty punch with $19.2M. Disney boosted the theater total from 1,865 to 2,701 and enjoyed a scant 8% decline. After ten days, the Denzel Washington hit has grossed $45.9M and could surpass the $100M mark by the end of its run. Budgeted at $27M, Remember the Titans will certainly become one of market share leader Buena Vista's more profitable hits this year.

Titans and Meet the Parents joined forces to make it a two-picture marketplace this weekend. Together, the films took in nearly $48M and accounted for two-thirds of the cumulative gross of the entire top ten. Both pictures have exceeded expectations and have prospered after a string of lackluster movies made consumers thirsty for something good to see. Plus with so many R-rated films flooding theaters over the last two months, Titans and Parents have become titles that moviegoers of all ages can go and see together. A combined final domestic take of over $200M looks certain.

Sylvester Stallone has been absent from the big screen for over three years and moviegoers apparently did not miss him. The action star's newest film Get Carter opened poorly in third place with $6.6M giving the former Rocky his worst opening since 1991's notorious flop Oscar which debuted with $5.1M in 1,388 theaters. Get Carter, a modern update on the 1971 British revenge thriller, busted into 2,315 theaters and averaged a disappointing $2,867 per site. Warner Bros. did not screen the film in advance for the press and had no further demographic statistics on Sunday morning as to the film's weekend performance.

Get Carter's shaky start puts the spotlight on Stallone's diminishing box office strength. His last on-screen role was in 1997's Cop Land which opened at number one and went on to gross a moderate $44.9M. Before that, there were big-budget action films like Daylight, Assassins, and Judge Dredd - none of which collected more than $35M domestically. However, his overseas appeal may still be substantial and Get Carter will have the chance to put it to the test.

The reissue of The Exorcist dropped 38% to $4.4M in its third weekend. Taking fifth place, the Warner Bros. horror classic has now scared up $23.9M in 17 days and will expand into roughly 400 more locations this Friday the 13th. The Exorcist's lifetime cume has now climbed to $189M.

Children were not exactly going crazy over the release of Digimon : The Movie. Fox's animated tale opened with a modest $4.2M placing fifth for the weekend. Playing in 1,823 theaters, the PG-rated film was the only choice for kids but did not take advantage of the lack of competition as evidenced by its mild $2,322 average.

Despite adding 450 more theaters, the critically-acclaimed Almost Famous slid 33% to $3.7M in its fourth outing. The DreamWorks/Sony co-production has amassed a decent, but not stellar, $23.3M to date and may eventually reach $35-40M domestically. Due to the very American subject matter, finding overseas success will be tough challenge.

A pair of teen-skewing pictures followed as Urban Legends took in $2.6M in its third weekend while Bring It On grossed $2.3M in its seventh frame. Sony's horror sequel fell 41% and brought its cume thus far to $18.2M. Universal's profitable high school comedy declined a more subdued 25% pushing its total to a fantastic $62.5M. Both films cost less than $15M to produce, but Bring It On will end up collecting about three times as much in ticket sales as Urban Legends.

Ninth and tenth places went to The Watcher and Nurse Betty which each brought in $1.1M.

In limited release, Christopher Guest's satire Best in Show widened from 13 to 53 theaters and grossed $746,871. The Warner Bros. release averaged a strong $14,092 in its sophomore frame and raised its 12-day total to $1.4M. Sony's Sundance darling Girlfight was not so lucky in its expansion. The boxing drama went from 28 to 253 venues and bagged $495,901 resulting in a weak $1,960 average. Acquired for $3M, Girlfight has grossed $778,046 in ten days.

Spike Lee's envelope-pushing new comedy Bamboozled grossed $190,720 from 17 theaters for a good $11,219 average. The New Line release played in New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago and goes wider in two weeks.

Artisan saw muscular numbers for Requiem for a Dream, Darren Aronofsky's followup to Pi, which collected $64,770 from only two New York City theaters. The psychological drama stars Ellen Burstyn and Jennifer Connelly and was given an NC-17 by the MPAA. Artisan instead decided to leave the film intact and release it unrated. Requiem opens in Los Angeles on October 20 and in several more markets on November 3.

Joel Schumacher's latest film Tigerland opened in five theaters in New York, Los Angeles, and Toronto and took in $26,715. Distributed by Fox, the Vietnam War-era drama averaged a decent $5,343 per site and has generated some of the best reviews for the A-list director in recent years. The studio's arthouse arm Fox Searchlight debuted the Australian film Bootmen in 11 theaters and grossed $13,133 ($1,194 average) and platformed the reissue of All About Eve in just one New York location bagging a hefty $10,177.

The action-comedy Bait and the pageant comedy Beautiful both slipped out of the top ten to less than $1M in sales a piece. The Jamie Foxx film should finish with a disappointing $16M while Minnie Driver's picture will conclude with a dismal $4M.

The top ten films grossed $74M over the weekend which was down 4% from last year when Double Jeopardy spent a third term in the top spot with $13.5M; but up 17% from 1998 when Antz remained at number one with $14.7M.

Compared to projections, Meet the Parents opened much stronger than my $17M forecast. Get Carter and Digimon both came in weaker than my respective predictions of $12M and $8M. Remember the Titans was close to my projection of $20M.

Take this week's NEW Reader Survey on which October release you want to see most. In last week's survey, readers were asked whether Meet the Parents or Get Carter would have the bigger opening weekend. Of responses, 60% correctly said Meet the Parents while 40% voted for Get Carter.

Read the Weekly Rewind column which looks at the top-grossing Denzel Washington films of the last decade. For a review of Meet the Parents visit The Chief Report.

Be sure to check back on Thursday for a complete summary, including projections, for next weekend when Lost Souls, The Ladies Man, The Contender, and Dr. T and the Women all open.

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

# Title Oct. 6 - 8 Sep. 29 - Oct. 1 % Chg. Theaters Weeks AVG Cumulative Dist.
1 Meet the Parents $ 28,623,300 2,614 1 $ 10,950 $ 28,623,300 Universal
2 Remember the Titans 19,209,998 20,905,831 -8.1 2,701 2 7,112 45,864,713 Buena Vista
3 Get Carter 6,637,830 2,315 1 2,867 6,637,830 Warner Bros.
4 The Exorcist (reissue) 4,441,612 7,205,523 -38.4 1,150 3 3,862 23,935,355 Warner Bros.
5 Digimon 4,233,304 1,823 1 2,322 4,233,304 Fox
6 Almost Famous 3,718,598 5,570,441 -33.2 2,085 4 1,784 23,262,437 DreamWorks
7 Urban Legends : Final Cut 2,607,635 4,406,105 -40.8 2,539 3 1,027 18,243,725 Sony
8 Bring It On 2,262,925 3,008,525 -24.8 2,382 7 950 62,502,195 Universal
9 The Watcher 1,145,595 2,280,260 -49.8 1,749 5 655 27,840,705 Universal
10 Nurse Betty 1,127,921 2,072,981 -45.6 1,473 5 766 22,769,502 USA Films
11 What Lies Beneath 1,122,562 1,644,746 -31.7 1,375 12 816 152,140,873 DreamWorks
12 Space Cowboys 882,774 1,402,641 -37.1 1,503 10 587 88,235,299 Warner Bros.
13 Best in Show 746,871 413,436 80.6 53 2 14,092 1,404,066 Warner Bros.
14 Bait 674,402 1,731,888 -61.1 1,026 4 657 14,451,773 Warner Bros.
15 Beautiful 622,332 1,409,433 -55.8 646 2 963 2,385,588 Destination
16 Dancer in the Dark 565,593 106,463 431.3 111 3 5,095 891,547 Fine Line
17 The Cell 529,362 1,040,830 -49.1 774 7 684 60,015,736 New Line
18 Girlfight 495,901 197,896 150.6 253 2 1,960 778,046 Sony
19 The Original Kings of Comedy 479,884 765,434 -37.3 912 6 526 37,292,058 Paramount
20 Nutty Professor II 439,560 678,165 -35.2 792 9 555 121,409,780 Universal
Top 5 $ 63,146,044 $ 41,096,425 53.7
Top 10 74,008,718 50,235,733 47.3
Top 20 80,567,959 58,239,580 38.3
Top 20 vs. 1999 80,567,959 84,672,564 -4.8

Last Updated : October 9 at 10:30PM EDT

Written by Gitesh Pandya