Weekend Box Office (October 18 - 20, 2002)

THIS WEEKEND With Halloween right around the corner, scary movies continued to top the box office as the supernatural thriller The Ring bowed impressively at number one replacing the Hannibal Lecter chiller Red Dragon which had ruled since the beginning of October. The frame's other new releases, teen thriller Abandon and action pic Formula 51, were both dead on arrival. Overall, the marketplace generated sales that were normal for this time of year.

DreamWorks enjoyed a frighteningly strong opening for its horror flick The Ring which spooked up $15M, according to final studio figures, from 1,981 theaters for a solid $7,580 average. Directed by Gore Verbinski (The Mexican, Mouse Hunt), the PG-13 film is a Hollywood remake of a Japanese suspense smash about a mysterious videotape which causes death for anyone who watches it. Naomi Watts stars in the $43M production which gave the studio only its second top spot debut of the year after March's The Time Machine.

Audiences were split evenly between those over and under the age of 25 and were slighlty more male, according to DreamWorks distribution president Jim Tharp. "Last weekend's sneak previews certainly helped boost awareness," he said, and a further expansion into 300 to 500 additional theaters is planned for the coming frame. Tharp also noted that Saturday sales were up a healthy 31% from opening day indicating good word-of-mouth. Moviegoers surveyed by CinemaScore.com gave The Ring a mediocre B- grade, though.

For the third straight weekend, Sweet Home Alabama held steady in second place grossing $9.6M dropping just 33%. The Buena Vista comedy has been a durable fall performer and is on the verge of becoming Reese Witherspoon's first $100M blockbuster. Cume after 24 days is $98.5M.

After two weeks at the top, Universal's Red Dragon slipped two spots to third place with $8.8M. The serial killer picture tumbled another 50% and brought its total to $77.8M after 17 days. Admission into the century club still seems likely.

Climbing one notch to fourth was the sleeper smash My Big Fat Greek Wedding with $7.1M for a 16% decline. The IFC Films blockbuster has consistently ranked in the top five for nine consecutive weeks now and has banked $169.3M. Greek Wedding has become one of the highest-grossing films to never reach the number one spot on any given weekend beating out hits like As Good As It Gets ($148.5M) and The Blair Witch Project ($140.5M), and will soon surpass A Beautiful Mind ($170.7M) and Dances With Wolves ($184.2M) before flirting with the $200M mark.

Fox Searchlight's Brown Sugar took fifth falling 51% in its second weekend to $5.2M and lifted its ten-day cume to $18.5M. Budgeted at under $10M, the Taye Diggs pic should finish with around $30M. Action flick The Transporter from corporate parent Fox followed in sixth with $5.1M in its sophomore frame. Down 44%, the Jason Statham pic has grossed $17.2M in ten days and also looks to conclude its run in the vicinity of $30M.

Dawson's Creek star Katie Holmes proved once again that she has no box office pull as her college-set thriller Abandon flopped with a $5.1M opening weekend gross from 2,341 theaters. The $20M Paramount release averaged a weak $2,163 per venue and audiences polled by CinemaScore.com gave the PG-13 film a poor D grade. Abandon is just the latest in a series of misfires for Paramount after K-19: The Widowmaker and The Four Feathers which have helped push the company down to last place in market share among major studios this year.

The Jackie Chan-Jennifer Love Hewitt film The Tuxedo took in $4.1M in its fourth frame, down 42%, boosting the cume for the DreamWorks title to $43.1M. Artisan's Jonah: A VeggieTales Movie expanded into wider release and grossed $3.9M for ninth place. With its additional 407 playdates, Jonah rose 7% from last weekend and put its 17-day cume at $16M.

Buena Vista's family film Tuck Everlasting rounded out the top ten with $3.8M. Off 29% in its second weekend, Tuck added 263 runs and raised its ten-day sum to $10.6M.

Samuel L. Jackson showed no muscle in his opening for the narcotics-themed actioner Formula 51 which generated one of the year's worst debuts. Released by Sony's Screen Gems unit, the R-rated film grossed just $2.8M from 1,857 theaters for a dismal $1,517 average. Audiences that did show up were not too pleased as the Ronny Yu-directed pic scored a C- grade from CinemaScore.com.

The studio's Adam Sandler film Punch-Drunk Love, on the other hand, was red hot as it expanded from five to 78 theaters and collected $1.5M for a knockout $18,986 average. Leaping into the Top 20, the Paul Thomas Anderson film will widen once again to about 400 more locations this Friday.

Another new film sizzling in limited release was Michael Moore's Bowling for Columbine which expanded from eight to 46 theaters and grossed $728,051 for a lethal $15,827 average. MGM/UA's award-winning documentary on America's gun culture has already taken in $1.1M.

Three films left the top ten over the weekend. Michelle Pfeiffer's White Oleander dropped 44% to $3.1M in its second weekend. Warner Bros. has grossed $10.7M in ten days and should reach a disappointing $17-19M in the end.

New Line's Knockaround Guys has punched up just $9.4M in ten days and looks to end with a poor $13-15M. MGM's $12M hit comedy Barbershop has cut up an impressive $69M to date and is on course for about $75M.

The top ten films grossed $67.6M which was even with last year when From Hell opened at number one with $11M; and also even with 2000 when Meet the Parents held onto the top spot for the third time with $16M.

Compared to projections, The Ring opened a couple of notches above my $12M forecast. Abandon and Formula 51 both debuted below my respective predictions of $9M and $8M.

Take this week's NEW Reader Survey on the opening weekend of Ghost Ship. In last week's survey, readers were asked which of the weekend's new films would have the biggest opening. Of 2,166 responses, 69% correctly guessed The Ring, 16% picked Abandon, and 15% selected Formula 51.

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 Ghost Ship, Jackass: The Movie, The Truth About Charlie, Paid in Full, and Waking Up In Reno all open.

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

# Title Oct 18 - 20 Oct 11 - 13 % Chg. Theaters Weeks AVG Cumulative Distributor
1 The Ring $ 15,015,393 1,981 1 $ 7,580 $ 15,015,393 DreamWorks
2 Sweet Home Alabama 9,559,978 14,261,720 -33.0 3,282 4 2,913 98,472,245 Buena Vista
3 Red Dragon 8,763,545 17,655,750 -50.4 3,307 3 2,650 77,810,085 Universal
4 My Big Fat Greek Wedding 7,145,309 8,453,159 -15.5 2,014 27 3,548 169,292,979 IFC Films
5 Brown Sugar 5,215,091 10,738,882 -51.4 1,378 2 3,785 18,502,360 Fox Searchlight
6 The Transporter 5,083,217 9,107,816 -44.2 2,610 2 1,948 17,191,186 Fox
7 Abandon 5,064,077 2,341 1 2,163 5,064,077 Paramount
8 The Tuxedo 4,122,131 7,046,222 -41.5 2,424 4 1,701 43,149,512 DreamWorks
9 Jonah: A VeggieTales Movie 3,906,223 3,662,880 6.6 1,581 3 2,471 16,025,403 Artisan
10 Tuck Everlasting 3,758,808 5,268,764 -28.7 1,448 2 2,596 10,579,840 Buena Vista
11 White Oleander 3,146,127 5,607,480 -43.9 1,510 2 2,084 10,748,850 Warner Bros.
12 Formula 51 2,817,719 1,857 1 1,517 2,817,719 Sony
13 Knockaround Guys 2,455,142 5,016,852 -51.1 1,806 2 1,359 9,411,345 New Line
14 Barbershop 2,407,492 4,016,652 -40.1 1,540 6 1,563 68,992,320 MGM
15 Punch-Drunk Love 1,480,932 367,203 303.3 78 2 18,986 2,045,863 Sony
16 The Rules of Attraction 1,188,954 2,532,410 -53.1 1,430 2 831 4,815,291 Lions Gate
17 The Banger Sisters 749,526 1,692,519 -55.7 841 5 891 28,720,875 Fox Searchlight
18 Moonlight Mile 746,128 1,120,016 -33.4 408 4 1,829 5,150,228 Buena Vista
19 Bowling for Columbine 728,051 209,148 248.1 46 2 15,827 1,052,554 MGM/UA
20 Spirited Away 519,252 634,901 -18.2 151 5 3,439 3,424,435 Buena Vista
Top 5 $ 45,699,316 $ 60,217,327 -24.1
Top 10 67,633,772 87,173,297 -22.4
Top 20 83,873,095 100,600,445 -16.6
Top 20 vs. 2001 83,873,095 79,023,469 6.1

Last Updated : October 21, 2002 at 6:15PM EDT