Weekend Box Office (October 11 - 13, 2002)

THIS WEEKEND An avalanche of new films opening over the Columbus Day holiday session could not dislodge the suspense smash Red Dragon from the number one spot at the North American box office. Sweet Home Alabama also stayed put at number two while six new national releases fragmented the marketplace with each taking a limited amount of the overall pie.

Hannibal Lecter gobbled up another $17.7M over the Friday-to-Sunday span, according to final studio figures, as Universal's Red Dragon held onto the top spot falling an understandable 52% from its record October bow. With $63.3M in just ten days, the Anthony Hopkins-Edward Norton thriller should find its way to about $105-115M domestically. Hannibal, the previous installment in the franchise, grossed $165.1M last year while five-time Oscar winner The Silence of the Lambs collected $130.7M back in 1991.

Reese Witherspoon was a bridesmaid once again as her hit comedy Sweet Home Alabama remained in second place with $14.3M in ticket sales. Off only 33% in its third frame, the Buena Vista laugher has upped its cume to $84.7M in just 17 days and is on track to reach $120-130M.

Despite debuting in only 1,372 theaters, Fox Searchlight's romantic comedy Brown Sugar enjoyed the best opening among the half-dozen newcomers with $10.7M. The Taye Diggs-Sanaa Lathan pic averaged a sweet $7,827 per location which was easily the best per-theater average among all movies in wide release over the weekend. Reviews were generally positive and moviegoers were smiling as well as audiences polled by CinemaScore.com gave the PG-13 film a promising A grade.

According to Steve Gilula, distribution president for Searchlight, Brown Sugar generated the bulk of its business from African American audiences, but some crossover biz also occured. A wide age group was represented and females slightly outnumbered males. Produced for under $10M, the Rick Famuyiwa film looks to be just the latest highly-profitable ethnic comedy in recent months following Barbershop and My Big Fat Greek Wedding.

Fox's actioner The Transporter shipped into fourth place with a $9.1M opening. The PG-13 pic bowed in 2,573 theaters, the most in the freshman class, and averaged a decent $3,540 per joint. The Jason Statham starrer skewed 63% male and was evenly split between those under and over the age of 25, according to studio distribution chief Bruce Snyder. Moviegoers polled by CinemaScore.com gave The Transporter a B+ grade.

IFC Films' unstoppable hit My Big Fat Greek Wedding didn't notice all the new competition and grossed $8.5M, up 3%, to take fifth place. After six months of release, the PG-rated blockbuster has taken in $159M and is on its way to at least $190M.

Jackie Chan slipped to sixth place with The Tuxedo which kicked up $7M in its third frame. Down only 30%, the DreamWorks release has grossed $37M in 17 days and should reach $55-60M overall.

A trio of new releases targeting different audiences followed.

Warner Bros. bowed the Michelle Pfeiffer drama White Oleander in seventh place with $5.6M from 1,510 theaters for a mild $3,714 average. The PG-13 film about a teenage girl dealing with her imprisoned mother also stars Robin Wright Penn and Renee Zellweger. For Warner Bros., it was the ninth consecutive release opening to single-digit millions.

Eighth place went to Disney's family fantasy Tuck Everlasting which took in $5.3M from 1,185 locations giving it a solid $4,446 average. Starring William Hurt, Sissy Spacek, and Ben Kingsley, the PG-rated drama tells of a girl who discovers a family of immortals.

The testosterone pic Knockaround Guys starring an ensemble cast including Vin Diesel, Seth Green, and Dennis Hopper grossed $5M averaging a wimpy $2,778 from 1,806 playdates. New Line's R-rated mob pic was delayed several times over the last year and a half and played to mostly a young adult male audience.

MGM's Barbershop rounded out the top ten with $4M in its fifth frame, down 40%, pushing its cume to $65.4M. Look for the Ice Cube comedy to reach $75-80M.

The weekend's sixth national release, college sex-and-drugs saga The Rules of Attraction, failed to pull in audiences and debuted poorly with $2.5M from 1,437 theaters. Averaging a flunking $1,762, the James Van Der Beek film could not find a window of opportunity for Lions Gate.

There was plenty of activity among films playing in limited release over the holiday session. The Paul Thomas Anderson film Punch-Drunk Love, which stars funnyman Adam Sandler in a darker and edgier role, enjoyed a spectacular opening weekend with $367,203 from just five theaters for a scorching $73,441 average. Sony released the Revolution Studios production in New York, Los Angeles, and Toronto and built off of the film's glowing reviews and festival buzz from New York, Toronto, and Cannes at which Anderson shared the Best Director trophy. Co-starring Emily Watson, the romantic drama adds 73 theaters in ten markets this Friday with 400 additional runs igniting on October 25, according to Revolution partner Tom Sherak.

Michael Moore's documentary on America's gun culture Bowling for Columbine took aim at New York and Los Angeles and grossed $209,148 from eight sites for a terrific $26,144 average. Also an award winner at Cannes, the MGM/UA release widens into 30 theaters on Friday. Jerry Seinfeld's stand-up doc Comedian averaged a healthy $15,056 from four NY/LA theaters for a weekend take of $60,224. The Miramax title expands into the top 20 markets on October 25.

Three new films flopped instantly in their limited bows of 100+ locations each. Miramax's kidpic Pokemon 4Ever grossed $717,061 from 249 theaters for a weak $2,880 average. Madonna's critically-panned romantic comedy Swept Away collected just $354,052 from 196 islands for a paltry $1,806 average for Sony. Meanwhile, submarine suspenser Below launched in 168 venues and grossed $201,431 for a dismal $1,199 average.

Five films were shoved out of the top ten this weekend. Artisan added 234 theaters to its animated kidpic Jonah: A VeggieTales Movie and ate up $3.7M from 1,174 theaters for an eleventh place finish. Off 41%, the G-rated toon averaged $3,120 and boosted its cume to $11M. Another expansion into about 400 new theaters is scheduled for Friday.

Fox Searchlight's groupie tale The Banger Sisters fell 51% to $1.7M in its fourth frame. The Susan Sarandon-Goldie Hawn flick has taken in $27.3M to date and looks to reach about $30M. The distrib's dark drama One Hour Photo tumbled 57% to $741,253 lifting its total to $30.1M. A final tally of $31M seems likely.

Buena Vista's Moonlight Mile has grossed $4M to date from an under-500 theater release while Paramount's The Four Feathers has brought in just $17.2M from a national bow.

The top ten films grossed $87.2M which was up 18% from last year when Training Day remained at number one with $13.4M; and up 24% from 2000 when Meet the Parents held onto the top spot with $21.2M.

Compared to projections, Brown Sugar and The Transporter were on target with my forecasts of $11M and $10M, respectively. White Oleander and Tuck Everlasting were very close to my respective predictions of $7M and $6M. Knockaround Guys and The Rules of Attraction both debuted below my projections of $8M and $6M.

Take this week's NEW Reader Survey on which of this coming weekend's new films will have the biggest opening. In last week's survey, readers were asked how many weeks they thought Red Dragon would remain at number one. Of 2,191 responses, 13% incorrectly said One, 62% thought Two, while 24% said Three.

For a review of Red Dragon visit The Chief Report.

Be sure to check back on Thursday for a complete summary, including projections, for next weekend when The Ring, Abandon, and Formula 51 all debut.

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

# Title Oct 11 - 13 Oct 4 - 6 % Chg. Theaters Weeks AVG Cumulative Distributor
1 Red Dragon $ 17,655,750 $ 36,540,945 -51.7 3,363 2 $ 5,250 $ 63,279,005 Universal
2 Sweet Home Alabama 14,261,720 21,325,435 -33.1 3,313 3 4,305 84,712,801 Buena Vista
3 Brown Sugar 10,738,882 1,372 1 7,827 10,738,882 Fox Searchlight
4 The Transporter 9,107,816 2,573 1 3,540 9,107,816 Fox
5 My Big Fat Greek Wedding 8,453,159 8,223,801 2.8 2,016 26 4,193 158,954,054 IFC Films
6 The Tuxedo 7,046,222 10,035,750 -29.8 2,985 3 2,361 37,038,408 DreamWorks
7 White Oleander 5,607,480 1,510 1 3,714 5,607,480 Warner Bros.
8 Tuck Everlasting 5,268,764 1,185 1 4,446 5,268,764 Buena Vista
9 Knockaround Guys 5,016,852 1,806 1 2,778 5,016,852 New Line
10 Barbershop 4,016,652 6,634,684 -39.5 1,911 5 2,102 65,440,273 MGM
11 Jonah: A VeggieTales Movie 3,662,880 6,201,345 -40.9 1,174 2 3,120 10,965,911 Artisan
12 The Rules of Attraction 2,532,410 1,437 1 1,762 2,532,410 Lions Gate
13 The Banger Sisters 1,692,519 3,484,958 -51.4 1,596 4 1,060 27,278,374 Fox Searchlight
14 Moonlight Mile 1,120,016 1,882,703 -40.5 437 3 2,563 4,026,341 Buena Vista
15 The Four Feathers 959,075 2,057,714 -53.4 1,281 4 749 17,154,324 Paramount
16 Signs 802,209 1,652,469 -51.5 802 11 1,000 224,635,135 Buena Vista
17 One Hour Photo 741,253 1,733,871 -57.2 654 8 1,133 30,106,895 Fox Searchlight
18 Pokemon 4Ever 717,061 249 1 2,880 717,061 Miramax
19 Spirited Away 634,901 611,047 3.9 138 4 4,601 2,668,591 Buena Vista
20 Spy Kids 2 564,824 1,269,776 -55.5 888 10 636 83,978,516 Miramax
Top 5 $ 60,217,327 $ 82,760,615 -27.2
Top 10 87,173,297 98,121,206 -11.2
Top 20 100,600,445 105,843,911 -5.0
Top 20 vs. 2001 100,600,445 81,747,325 23.1

Last Updated : October 14, 2002 at 11:30PM EDT