Weekend Box Office (October 9 - 11, 1998)

THISWEEKEND With hardly any new competition in its path, the animated insect pic Antz easily held onto the top spot at theaters from coast to coast taking in $14.7M over the Friday-to-Sunday period according to final studio figures. Down a slim 14%, the DreamWorks film, which features the voices of Woody Allen, Sharon Stone, Jennifer Lopez, and Sylvester Stallone, has amassed an impressive $35.6M in ten days. Helping Antz in its sophomore frame was the addition of 364 theaters which brought its grand total of playdates to 2,813 locations making it the widest release ever in the month of October. Normally, distributors book this many sites for films released in the summer or holiday periods.

Being the only title aimed at kids and families is certainly paying off for DreamWorks. Antz still has another few weeks before any family competition arrives and should display strong worker ant legs. This bug's life should last long and could reach $75-90M in domestic ticket sales.

Slipping just 23%, New Line's Rush Hour grossed $11.1M allowing it to climb a notch to second place. With $98.4M collected in 24 days, the Jackie Chan-Chris Tucker film is expected to join the blockbuster club on Tuesday or Wednesday. Part of Rush Hour's enormous success can also be attributed to lack of similar competition since it is the only summer-like action-comedy in the market. Moviegoers are having a fun time watching this film and positive word-of-mouth is helping it hold on week after week.

Polygram saw a solid second frame for the Robin Williams film What Dreams May Come as it took in $10.9M. Off a respectable 31%, the afterlife tale has resurrected $31.2M in ten days. That puts Dreams a few notches below last spring's star-driven spiritual romance City of Angels which grossed $34.1M in its first ten days and finished with a heavenly $78.7M. More tales from the beyond will haunt movie fans later in the year in Brad Pitt's Meet Joe Black and Michael Keaton's Jack Frost. At its current pace, What Dreams May Come should be able to reach $65-75M domestically.

Both October releases Antz and What Dreams May Come opened powerfully and are looking to post solid results. The table below lists the five biggest debuts for this month, their ten days grosses, and their final tallies:

Title Opening ($M) Ten Day ($M) Final ($M) Year
Antz 17.2 35.6 1998
Stargate 16.7 34.5 71.5 1994
What Dreams May Come 15.8 31.2 1998
I Know What You Did Last Summer 15.8 32.8 72.2 1997
Under Siege 15.8 30.3 83.6 1992

Still shaking its head in fourth place was the Paramount comedy A Night at the Roxbury with $6.1M. The film's decline of 36% was softened by the studio's addition of over 300 theaters. After ten days, Roxbury has a funky cume of $17.8M which is good for a film based on a comedy sketch not known by much of the country. Produced for about $17M, Roxbury should finish its run with a handsome gross of $25-30M.

Divine intervention could not prevent Eddie Murphy from crashing and burning at the box office as his latest comedy Holy Man finished a distant fifth with $5.1M. Spreading the word of God in 2,013 temples, the Buena Vista pic averaged a blasphemous $2,537 per theater. Film critics across the board crucified the picture and media-shy Eddie Murphy was not out promoting the film before its release. Holy Man, which also stars Jeff Goldblum and Kelly Preston, was the only major new release of the weekend, but audiences looked the other way and spent their money on holdovers that they heard were actually good films.

Although Eddie Murphy spent the summer making people laugh in Doctor Dolittle and Mulan, it meant nothing to Holy Man as it suffered one of the weakest openings for the box office star ever, possibly the worst since Best Defense. He's even had better turnouts for 1997's Metro ($11.4M opening/$32M total), 1995's Vampire in Brooklyn ($7M/$19.6M), and 1992's The Distinguished Gentleman ($10.6M/$46.4M). Holy Man should suffer rapid erosion at the box office over the next few weeks.

Sony's teen slasher hit Urban Legend hacked up another $4.8M with its run being exceptionally strong for a horror title. Ronin followed in seventh with $4.7M. There's Something About Mary took eighth with $2.8M. One True Thing and Saving Private Ryan rounded out the top ten with grosses of $1.9M and $1.3M. Overall, the lack of significant new business allowed holdovers to show small depreciations.

In limited release, The Mighty starring Sharon Stone and Kieran Culkin grossed $87,705 in nine theaters giving the Miramax drama a promising $9,745 per site. Sundance winner Slam posted $34,887 bail in only two sites for a sizzling $17,444 average per theater. Stratosphere saw a very down-to-earth opening for the Stephen Baldwin police drama One Tough Cop which grossed $651,350 in 415 locations for an unarresting $1,570 per theater.

Compared to projections, Antz held on extremely well and performed better than my $12M forecast. What Dreams May Come and A Night at the Roxbury both came close to my predictions of $12M and $5.5M respectively. However, Holy Man was nowhere near my projection of $15M.

Take this week's NEW Reader Survey on Rush Hour. In last week's survey, readers were asked whether next year's highly-anticipated Star Wars Episode 1 will gross more than Titanic's $600M. Of 1,803 responses, 70.3% voted no while 29.7% said yes.

Be sure to read the Weekly Rewind column which examines the biggest October openings of this decade. This Wednesday's new column will focus on the box office history of Sandra Bullock. For a review of Holy Man visit Chief's Movie Review Page.

The top ten films grossed $63.4M which was up 17% from last year when Kiss the Girls spent its second weekend at number one with $11.1M, and up 25% from 1996 when The Ghost and the Darkness edged out The Long Kiss Goodnight for the top spot with $9.2M.

Be sure to check in again on Thursday for a complete summary, including projections, for next weekend when Practical Magic and Bride of Chucky face off.

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

Below are final studio figures for the weekend. Click on the title to jump to its official home page:

# Title Oct 9 - 11 Oct 2 - 4 % Chg. Theaters Weeks AVG Cumulative Dist.
1 Antz $ 14,713,918 $ 17,195,160 -14.4 2,813 2 $ 5,231 $ 35,621,609 DreamWorks
2 Rush Hour 11,105,465 14,492,122 -23.4 2,701 4 4,112 98,382,886 New Line
3 What Dreams May Come 10,917,143 15,833,592 -31.1 2,531 2 4,313 31,248,297 Polygram
4 A Night at the Roxbury 6,108,845 9,604,791 -36.4 2,169 2 2,816 17,792,332 Paramount
5 Holy Man 5,106,919 2,013 1 2,537 5,106,919 BV
6 Urban Legend 4,770,882 6,707,512 -28.9 2,257 3 2,114 26,501,095 Sony
7 Ronin 4,677,903 7,202,968 -35.1 2,487 3 1,881 30,795,955 MGM/UA
8 There's Something About Mary 2,777,500 3,396,357 -18.2 1,933 13 1,437 161,852,138 Fox
9 One True Thing 1,920,795 2,666,675 -28.0 1,565 4 1,227 20,183,340 Universal
10 Saving Private Ryan 1,300,581 1,674,034 -22.3 1,230 12 1,057 186,258,536 DreamWorks
11 Simon Birch 1,055,295 1,492,164 -29.3 908 5 1,162 15,322,557 BV
12 Armageddon 723,198 505,724 43.0 806 15 897 198,798,517 BV
13 Everest (IMAX) 657,270 657,270 0.0 61 32 10,775 45,480,721 Freeman
14 One Tough Cop 651,350 415 1 1,570 651,350 Stratosphere
15 Blade 601,619 1,054,786 -43.0 987 8 610 66,913,271 New Line
16 Clay Pigeons 520,611 179,947 189.3 297 3 1,753 1,019,698 Gramercy
17 Ever After 497,749 796,325 -37.5 780 11 638 63,323,941 Fox
18 Rounders 472,280 1,008,660 -53.2 879 5 537 22,401,061 Miramax
19 The Parent Trap 433,328 271,985 59.3 751 11 577 64,853,795 BV
20 A Soldier's Daughter 318,387 369,864 -13.9 163 4 1,953 1,126,162 October
Top 5 $ 47,952,290 $ 64,328,633 -25.5
Top 10 63,399,951 80,265,375 -21.0
Top 20 69,331,038 86,179,522 -19.6

    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 12, 1998 at 11:00PM EDTHome

Written by Gitesh Pandya