Weekend Box Office (October 19 - 21, 2001)

THIS WEEKEND Johnny Depp scored the first number one opening of his seventeen-year film career with the top spot debut of the horror picture From Hell which edged out Drew Barrymore's new dramedy Riding in Cars With Boys which bowed in second place. With a PG-13 rating and 465 more theaters, Boys had been expected by some to debut at number one. The weekend's third new release, the prison tale The Last Castle, opened poorly in fifth place. Overall ticket sales were relatively unchanged when compared to this weekend last year, however only the top movie generated a per-theater average of more than $4,000.

Fox captured the number one spot over the weekend with the nineteenth century murder mystery From Hell which sliced up $11M, according to final figures, in its debut frame. Stalking 2,305 theaters, the R-rated thriller averaged a solid $4,779 per site. From Hell stars Johnny Depp as an opium-smoking sleuth tracking down Jack the Ripper and Heather Graham as a street prostitute who stands as the serial killer's next victim. The $35M film was directed by Allen and Albert Hughes (Menace II Society, Dead Presidents).

Bruce Snyder, distribution president at Fox, was delighted with the opening noting its strong average and cross-gender appeal. The audience for From Hell was split evenly between males and females and 53% were under 25. Saturday sales increased a healthy 19% over Friday, according to Snyder, but exit polls from CinemaScore gave the fright flick only a B- grade. With Halloween right around the corner, From Hell will face a pair of new horror films next weekend - Thirteen Ghosts (Warner Bros.) and Bones (New Line Cinema).

Following closely in second place was the new Drew Barrymore film Riding in Cars With Boys which grossed $10.4M from 2,770 theaters. Averaging a dull $3,756, the Sony release about a young woman whose life changes after an accidental pregnancy skewed more female just as the studio expected. Directed by Penny Marshall, Boys enjoyed a good 17% Friday-to-Saturday increase and scored an encouraging B+ grade from CinemaScore audiences. Sony is hoping that Barrymore's fan base will continue to support the $47M production in weeks to come like they had for films like Never Been Kissed and The Wedding Singer which both reached total grosses that were four to five times their opening weekend take.

After two weeks at number one, Denzel Washington's cop drama Training Day slid to third place with $9.3M dipping only 30% - the smallest decline in the top ten. After 17 days, the Warner Bros. release has boosted its cume to $57.3M. Bandits, the crook comedy starring Bruce Willis and Billy Bob Thornton, dropped a moderate 36% in its second weekend and collected $8.3M bringing its ten-day total to $24.9M. Produced for $75-80M, the MGM release should find its way to $45-50M domestically and may perform better overseas where the Willis name has more mileage.

DreamWorks released its final film of the year, the prison pic The Last Castle, and secured a modest opening of $7.1M putting it in fifth place. The R-rated drama played in 2,262 theaters and averaged just $3,134 per location. Robert Redford plays a decorated general sent to military prison and leads a revolt against a tough warden, played by James Gandolfini. The Rod Lurie-directed picture's debut performance was weaker than the bows for Redford's last two films - 1998's The Horse Whisperer ($13.7M opening, $6,712 average) and 1996's Up Close and Personal ($11.1M opening, $7,372 average). The Last Castle carries a production budget of $50-60M.

Jim Tharp, distribution president for DreamWorks, conceded that the opening for The Last Castle was "disappointing." He stated that adult men made up the strongest group with 70% of the audience aged 25 and older and 53% being male. Patrons polled by CinemaScore gave the film an A- grade (the best among this weekend's three freshmen) and the Friday-to-Saturday increase was an impressive 32%. Redford will be hoping for a better turnout from his next film Spy Game, which also stars Brad Pitt, which opens over Thanksgiving weekend next month.

Slipping 38% to sixth place was the John Cusack-Kate Beckinsale romantic comedy Serendipity with $5.4M. In its third frame, the Miramax title pushed its cume to $34.4M. Buena Vista's screwball comedy Corky Romano dropped a reasonable 41% in its sophomore session to $5.3M. The $11M Chris Kattan-starrer has grossed $16.2M in ten days and should reach about $30M.

Michael Douglas picked up $4.42M with his thriller Don't Say a Word which slipped 37% and brought its cume to $47.9M. The martial arts flick Iron Monkey followed in ninth with $3.2M for a ten-day sum of $10.7M. Rounding out the top ten was Paramount's comedy Zoolander with $3.1M, off 38%, lifting its total to $40M.

The limited-release arena saw a pair of promising debuts over the weekend. Fox Searchlight opened Richard Linklater's critically acclaimed animated film Waking Life in four theaters (one each in New York, Los Angeles, Toronto, and Chicago) and collected $88,977 for a superb $22,244 average. Next weekend, the R-rated film expands into 27 theaters and will roll out into 125 locations by Thanksgiving. Waking Life cost under $3M to produce and had its worldwide rights picked up by the distributor at this year's Sundance Film Festival in January.

The World War II-era drama Focus starring William H. Macy and Laura Dern debuted in a pair of Manhattan cinemas and grossed $24,139 for a potent $12,070 average. Paramount Classics plans to expand the PG-13 film around the New York area and into the top ten markets on November 2.

David Lynch's Hollywood noir Mulholland Drive widened its run from 66 to 247 theaters this weekend and grossed $960,558 boosting its total gross to $1.9M. The Universal Focus title averaged a decent, but not sparkling, $3,889 per venue.

Three films dropped out of the top ten over the weekend. Disney's kidpic Max Keeble's Big Move dipped 35% to $2.6M giving the PG-rated film $14.2M in 17 days. The $12M picture should finish with $20-25M. The suspense thriller Joy Ride tumbled 48% to $2.5M giving it $18.8M after its third weekend. The Fox release looks to reach $20-25M as well. The Anthony Hopkins drama Hearts in Atlantis has taken in $22.8M to date and should end its run with only $26-28M.

The top ten films grossed $67.4M which was even with last year when Meet the Parents remained in the top spot for a third weekend with $16M; and up 18% from 1999 when The Best Man opened at number one with $9M.

Compared to projections, From Hell, Riding in Cars With Boys, and The Last Castle all opened below my respective forecasts of $16M, $14M, and $10M.

Take this week's NEW Reader Survey on whether recent terrorist threats have affected your moviegoing habits. In last week's survey, readers were asked which new film would enjoy the best opening this weekend. Of 2,083 responses, 62% correctly chose From Hell, 21% picked Riding in Cars With Boys, and 17% selected The Last Castle.

Read the Weekly Rewind column which reports on Denzel Washington's top-grossing films. For a review of From Hell visit The Chief Report.

Be sure to check back on Thursday for a complete summary, including projections, for next weekend when Thirteen Ghosts, K-Pax, Bones, and On the Line all open.

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

# Title Oct 19 - 21 Oct 12 - 14 % Chg. Theaters Weeks AVG Cumulative Dist.
1 From Hell $ 11,014,818 2,305 1 $ 4,779 $ 11,014,818 Fox
2 Riding in Cars with Boys 10,404,652 2,770 1 3,756 10,404,652 Sony
3 Training Day 9,325,443 13,386,457 -30.3 2,603 3 3,583 57,283,521 Warner Bros.
4 Bandits 8,304,007 13,050,700 -36.4 3,207 2 2,589 24,884,979 MGM
5 The Last Castle 7,088,213 2,262 1 3,134 7,088,213 DreamWorks
6 Serendipity 5,446,446 8,766,356 -37.9 2,610 3 2,087 34,426,889 Miramax
7 Corky Romano 5,307,985 9,023,173 -41.2 2,094 2 2,535 16,185,276 Buena Vista
8 Don't Say A Word 4,215,594 6,713,774 -37.2 2,256 4 1,869 47,885,454 Fox
9 Iron Monkey 3,190,010 6,014,653 -47.0 1,235 2 2,583 10,737,961 Miramax
10 Zoolander 3,135,854 5,030,530 -37.7 2,285 4 1,372 40,018,837 Paramount
11 Max Keeble's Big Move 2,645,891 4,039,594 -34.5 1,976 3 1,339 14,187,300 Buena Vista
12 Joy Ride 2,543,786 4,905,863 -48.1 1,854 3 1,372 18,814,682 Fox
13 Hardball 1,557,215 2,348,310 -33.7 1,652 6 943 35,794,632 Paramount
14 Hearts in Atlantis 1,285,476 2,711,469 -52.6 1,505 4 854 22,791,121 Warner Bros.
15 Mulholland Drive 960,558 587,591 63.5 247 2 3,889 1,859,343 Universal
16 The Others 906,488 1,750,321 -48.2 1,146 11 791 94,543,041 Miramax
17 Rush Hour 2 622,254 968,696 -35.8 659 12 944 223,879,783 New Line
18 Megiddo: The Omega Code 2 429,552 572,737 -25.0 227 5 1,892 5,220,846 8X
19 Legally Blonde 367,357 432,082 -15.0 711 15 517 95,001,351 MGM
20 Shrek 271,870 259,620 4.7 388 23 701 266,636,479 DreamWorks
Top 5 $ 46,137,133 $ 50,940,460 -9.4
Top 10 67,433,022 73,642,569 -8.4
Top 20 79,023,469 81,747,325 -3.3
Top 20 vs. 2000 79,023,469 75,993,210 4.0

Last Updated : October 22, 2001 at 8:30PM EDT