Weekend Box Office (October 13 - 15, 2000)

THIS WEEKEND Popular holdovers Meet the Parents and Remember the Titans joined forces to deliver the first year-to-year increase in box office sales in three months. Four new R-rated films opening in wide release were greeted with mostly indifference as moviegoers chose instead to spend time with big stars like Robert De Niro and Denzel Washington.

For the second straight weekend, the Universal/DreamWorks comedy smash Meet the Parents topped the charts with a strong $21.2M, according to final studio figures, easing just 26% from its record-breaking debut. Starring De Niro and Ben Stiller, Parents has amassed a hefty $58.8M in only ten days and will certainly cross the $100M domestic mark by early November. Universal attributes the strong hold to very positive word-of-mouth resulting from a quality picture. Until this month, no movie in October had ever grossed over $20M in a single weekend. Meet the Parents has now accomplished the feat twice with its $28.6M bow as well as its powerful sophomore frame. Budgeted at $51M, the Jay Roach-directed film should be able to collect at least $125M domestically and generate solid grosses overseas.

Holding onto the number two spot with $13.1M was Disney's football saga Remember the Titans. Off a reasonable 32%, the Denzel Washington hit has lifted its 17-day cume to $64.2M. Titans was produced for $27M and looks to cross the $100M mark with ease making it the highest-grossing film ever for its Oscar-winning star. Washington's current career best comes from 1993's The Pelican Brief with $100.8M.

New releases occupied the next three slots. Opening on Friday the 13th, New Line's long-delayed horror entry Lost Souls scared up $8M. Playing in 1,970 theaters, the Winona Ryder thriller averaged a good $4,038 per venue. Reviews have not been positive and audiences have given the satanic pic poor scores indicating a bumpy road ahead.

Paramount's comedy The Ladies Man, inspired by the popular Saturday Night Live sketch, debuted in fourth place with a mild $5.4M. Making moves in 2,022 theaters, the Tim Meadows starrer averaged a weak $2,684. The Ladies Man is just the latest in a line of SNL-based feature comedies and its opening did not reach the heights of last year's Superstar ($8.9M) or 1998's A Night at the Roxbury ($9.6M), both of which were also given October bows. Budgeted at $11M, The Ladies Man may have been adversely affected by its R rating which prevented many of the younger fans of the long-running television staple from buying tickets. Other SNL films like Superstar, Roxbury, and Wayne's World carried PG-13 ratings.

The new political drama The Contender followed in fifth with a $5.4M opening from 1,516 sites for a moderate $3,538 average. The DreamWorks release stars Joan Allen as a Senator chosen to replace the late Vice President who comes under fire from Republican opposition. Gary Oldman, Jeff Bridges, and Christian Slater also star. Although The Contender had the best reviews and exit polls among the quartet of new releases this weekend, it still could not manage to bring out enough voters to deliver a solid opening.

Warner Bros. used Friday the 13th to expand the reissue of The Exorcist into 505 new locations and came away with $5.2M. The horror classic remained a formidable contender in its fourth weekend and has collected $30.5M so far. With Halloween right around the corner, The Exorcist should continue to bring in moviegoers. The 1973 suspense blockbuster has now watched its lifetime cume leap to a mammoth $195M.

Robert Altman's latest film Dr. T and the Women debuted in seventh place with $5M. Artisan released the film in 1,489 theaters and averaged a so-so $3,367. Richard Gere stars as a gynecologist whose life is put into disarray due to his relationships with many women. Helen Hunt, Farrah Fawcett, Laura Dern, and Kate Hudson also star.

Sylvester Stallone watched helplessly as his latest action picture Get Carter crumbled in its second weekend of release. The Warner Bros. title plunged 56% to $2.9M and brought its ten-day sum to a mere $11.7M. A final domestic gross of about $16M seems likely which would make Get Carter Stallone's lowest-grossing film since 1987's Over the Top.

Placing ninth was Cameron Crowe's Almost Famous with $2.2M in its fifth round. Down 41%, the DreamWorks/Sony co-production cost $60M to produce but has only taken in $26.7M to date. A final domestic tally of around $35M is likely for the critically-praised film, unless it secures a re-release this winter for awards consideration.

After two weeks of impressive sales in limited release, Warner Bros. expanded the dog show mockumentary Best in Show from 53 to 291 theaters and took in $2.1M landing in the ten spot. The comedy scored the second-best average in the top ten with $7,347 which trailed only Meet the Parents. Best in Show has now grossed a superb $3.9M while still in limited release and adds more theaters next weekend.

Enjoying a dazzling debut in limited release was the British film Billy Elliot which marks the first release for Universal Focus, the new specialized arm of Universal Pictures. The comedic drama grossed $215,681 in ten theaters for a fantastic average of $21,568 per location. Billy Elliot follows the struggles of a young boy who pursues an interest in ballet during the miners' strike of 1984. The $4M picture has already become a hit in its homeland spending two weeks in the runnerup spot at the U.K. box office. In North America this weekend, it opened in six markets and will widen to about 60 theaters next weekend. Universal reported very promising exit poll data for Billy Elliot with 96% of patrons calling it "Excellent" or "Very Good" and 83% saying they would definitely recommend the film to others. Adult women made up the core audience with females totaling 58% of those polled while 70% were over 30.

Five films dropped out of the top ten over the weekend. Fox's animated picture Digimon : The Movie tumbled 54% in its second weekend to $1.9M. With a mere $7.3M in ten days, the Japanese import should finish with $10-12M and find a larger audience on home video. The slasher sequel Urban Legends : Final Cut took in $1.2M, down 54%, bringing its cume to $20.2M. Produced for $14M, the Sony release should graduate with $22-24M.

After a seven-week run in the top ten, the sleeper hit comedy Bring It On dipped 28% to $1.6M raising its total to a superb $64.7M. The $10M cheerleader tale has grossed more than other teen hits like She's All That, Varsity Blues, and Clueless and could reach $70M by the end of its run.

USA Films' Nurse Betty and Universal's The Watcher are nearing the ends of their runs and have grossed $23.7M and $28.6M to date, respectively.

The top ten films grossed $70.5M over the weekend which was up 5% from last year when Fight Club debuted in the top spot with $11M; but down 1% from 1998 when Practical Magic opened at number one with $13.1M.

Compared to projections, Lost Souls opened close to my $7M forecast while The Ladies Man debuted below my $9M prediction. Both The Contender and Dr. T and the Women premiered very close to my $5M projection for each.

Take this week's NEW Reader Survey on the opening strength of the new comedy Bedazzled. In last week's survey, readers were asked which of five October releases they wanted to see the most. Of 1,418 responses, 32% picked Pay It Forward, 31% chose Bedazzled, 20% selected Blair Witch 2, 11% said The Ladies Man, and 7% picked Lost Souls.

Read the Weekly Rewind column which looks back at October 1989. For a review of The Ladies Man visit The Chief Report.

Be sure to check back on Thursday for a complete summary, including projections, for next weekend when Bedazzled, Pay it Forward, and The Legend of Drunken Master all open.

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

# Title Oct. 13 - 15 Oct. 6 - 8 % Chg. Theaters Weeks AVG Cumulative Dist.
1 Meet the Parents $ 21,168,385 $ 28,623,300 -26.0 2,615 2 $ 8,095 $ 58,824,635 Universal
2 Remember the Titans 13,057,421 19,209,998 -32.0 2,726 3 4,790 64,206,353 Buena Vista
3 Lost Souls 7,954,766 1,970 1 4,038 7,954,766 New Line
4 The Ladies Man 5,426,390 2,022 1 2,684 5,426,390 Paramount
5 The Contender 5,363,900 1,516 1 3,538 5,363,900 DreamWorks
6 The Exorcist (reissue) 5,235,581 4,441,612 17.9 1,655 4 3,163 30,534,411 Warner Bros.
7 Dr. T and the Women 5,012,867 1,489 1 3,367 5,012,867 Artisan
8 Get Carter 2,916,232 6,637,830 -56.1 2,315 2 1,260 11,740,680 Warner Bros.
9 Almost Famous 2,192,827 3,718,598 -41.0 2,262 5 969 26,676,713 DreamWorks
10 Best in Show 2,137,861 746,871 186.2 291 3 7,347 3,889,111 Warner Bros.
11 Digimon 1,936,896 4,233,304 -54.2 1,825 2 1,061 7,330,357 Fox
12 Bring It On 1,640,250 2,262,925 -27.5 2,187 8 750 64,749,850 Universal
13 Urban Legends : Final Cut 1,207,255 2,607,635 -53.7 2,221 4 544 20,157,839 Sony
14 What Lies Beneath 648,531 1,122,562 -42.2 1,027 13 631 153,118,522 DreamWorks
15 Space Cowboys 543,431 882,774 -38.4 1,002 11 542 89,056,413 Warner Bros.
16 Nurse Betty 487,585 1,127,921 -56.8 1,018 6 479 23,675,528 USA Films
17 Dancer in the Dark 393,186 565,593 -30.5 123 4 3,197 1,542,996 Fine Line
18 The Watcher 382,365 1,145,595 -66.6 879 6 435 28,572,915 Universal
19 Cyberworld 323,702 278,199 16.4 29 2 11,162 751,880 IMAX
20 Nutty Professor II 285,135 439,560 -35.1 538 10 530 121,809,870 Universal
Top 5 $ 52,970,862 $ 63,146,044 -16.1
Top 10 70,466,230 74,008,718 -4.8
Top 20 78,314,566 80,567,959 -2.8
Top 20 vs. 1999 78,314,566 76,138,072 2.9

Last Updated : October 16 at 10:00PM EDT

Written by Gitesh Pandya