Weekend Box Office (October 20 - 22, 2000)

THIS WEEKEND There was no stopping Robert De Niro and Ben Stiller as their smash hit Meet the Parents remained number one at the box office despite solid debuts by the comedy Bedazzled and the drama Pay it Forward. Parents also became the first movie to top the charts for three consecutive weeks since last spring's Erin Brockovich - another Universal release. The healthy selection of appealing films has reversed the recent theatrical slowdown as the overall box office rose over year-ago levels.

For the third straight weekend, Meet the Parents was the most popular film in North America collecting $16M, according to final studio figures, which boosted its 17-day cume to a terrific $80.7M. Off only 24% from last weekend, the picture still managed a solid $6,115 average per theater leading all films in the top ten including a trio of new releases. Produced jointly by Universal and DreamWorks, Meet the Parents is positioned to become one of the highest-grossing comedies of the year as it seems likely to surpass the grosses of recent films by superstar funnymen like Jim Carrey, Eddie Murphy, and Martin Lawrence. With no major comedies on tap until November 10's Little Nicky starring Adam Sandler, Parents should continue its leggy autumn run and become the first blockbuster of the season.

Enjoying a good debut in second place was the comedy Bedazzled starring Brendan Fraser and Elizabeth Hurley which grossed $13.1M. Playing in 2,568 theaters, the Fox release averaged a commendable $5,104 per site and witnessed a solid Friday-to-Saturday increase of 30%. A remake of the Dudley Moore comedy, Bedazzled finds Fraser as a man whose life is turned upside-down after making a deal with the devil played by Hurley. The Harold Ramis-helmed pic gave the Estee Lauder pitchwoman her best opening ever for a lead role. Reviews were not particularly strong but audience polls were generally positive. Delayed from its original summer release date, Bedazzled faired well in the marketplace considering the continued strength of fellow comedy Meet the Parents.

Slipping a notch to third place was the Disney hit Remember the Titans with a strong $9.9M in its fourth period. Off only 24%, the Denzel Washington football drama has amassed a solid $77.4M and is likely to become the actor's biggest box office hit ever.

Pay it Forward from Warner Bros. opened in fourth with $9.6M from 2,130 theaters for a good $4,522 average. The picture stars Academy Award winners Kevin Spacey and Helen Hunt along with Oscar nominee Haley Joel Osment and tells the story of a young boy who devises a plan to better the world by encouraging people to perform random acts of kindness for perfect strangers. Warner Bros. distribution head Dan Fellman reported that exit polls were "just fantastic" with 92% of those polled calling the film "Excellent" or "Very Good" and 83% saying they would definitely recommend it. With a solid start and encouraging audience reactions, Fellman believes that Pay it Forward will perform well in the weeks ahead.

Jackie Chan's latest action flick The Legend of the Drunken Master, a tale of a martial arts wizard who fights better with alcohol, debuted in fifth place with $3.8M. Miramax released the 1994 feature in 1,342 theaters and averaged a mild $2,865 per venue. By comparison, Chan's last film, the American-made Shanghai Noon, opened with $15.6M last May. His Hong Kong films which are dubbed into English tend to perform with more modest results as evidenced by Drunken Master and last year's Twin Dragons which debuted with $2.8M on its way to just $7.9M.

The political thriller The Contender from DreamWorks slid a moderate 35% to $3.5M in its second frame. With $10.6M in ten days, the Joan Allen-Jeff Bridges starrer should lock up about $20M by the end of its term.

Suffering severe sophomore slumps, a bunch of films saw sales plunge but still managed to occupy real estate in the top ten. New Line's horror flick Lost Souls tumbled 59% to $3.2M while Paramount's comedy The Ladies Man fell 48% to $2.8M. Disappointing final grosses in the vicinity of $19M and $16M, respectively, should result.

Richard Gere's latest entry Dr. T and the Women fell apart in its second weekend declining 53% to $2.4M. Directed by Robert Altman, the Artisan release has collected $9M in ten days and should end its run with roughly $15M.

The Exorcist dropped 44% to $2.9M for the weekend giving the classic chiller $34.8M in its reissue. The Warner Bros. blockbuster has boosted its lifetime tally to just under $200M although most of it came at a time when tickets were much cheaper.

In limited release, Universal Focus expanded its critical hit Billy Elliot from 10 to 37 theaters and saw sales rise to $489,415 in its second weekend. The British film averaged a healthy $13,227 and raised its cume to $812,532.

Three films dropped out of the top ten over the weekend. Sylvester Stallone's action flop Get Carter has delivered the worst box office performance for the actor in over a decade. The Warner Bros. release has banked just $13.9M in 17 days and should conclude with a feeble $16-18M.

After five weeks, the $60M DreamWorks/Sony project Almost Famous dropped to $1.2M putting its cume at $28.7M. Cameron Crowe's pet project should finish with $33-35M which is somewhat disappointing considering its hefty budget and stellar reviews.

The top ten films grossed $67.3M over the weekend which was up 18% from last year when The Best Man debuted in the top spot with $9M; and up 13% from 1998 when Pleasantville opened at number one with $8.9M.

Compared to projections, Bedazzled opened below my forecast of $18M. But Pay it Forward and The Legend of Drunken Master were both on target with my respective predictions of $10M and $4M. Meet the Parents and Remember the Titans were also close to my projections of $15M and $9M.

Take this week's NEW Reader Survey on the box office potential of Meet the Parents. In last week's survey, readers were asked whether Bedazzled would open with at least $14M. Of 2,469 responses, 79% said yes while 21% correctly voted no.

Read the Weekly Rewind column which looks back at October 1989. For reviews of Bedazzled and Pay it Forward visit The Chief Report.

Be sure to check back on Thursday for a complete summary, including projections, for next weekend when Blair Witch 2, Lucky Numbers, and The Little Vampire debut.

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

# Title Oct. 20 - 22 Oct. 13 - 15 % Chg. Theaters Weeks AVG Cumulative Dist.
1 Meet the Parents $ 16,015,185 $ 21,168,385 -24.3 2,619 3 $ 6,115 $ 80,723,025 Universal
2 Bedazzled 13,106,526 2,568 1 5,104 13,106,526 Fox
3 Remember the Titans 9,920,460 13,057,421 -24.0 2,801 4 3,542 77,355,579 Buena Vista
4 Pay it Forward 9,631,359 2,130 1 4,522 9,631,359 Warner Bros.
5 The Legend of Drunken Master 3,845,278 1,342 1 2,865 3,845,278 Miramax
6 The Contender 3,486,109 5,363,900 -35.0 1,571 2 2,219 10,553,191 DreamWorks
7 Lost Souls 3,237,772 7,954,766 -59.3 1,970 2 1,644 12,878,237 New Line
8 The Exorcist (reissue) 2,910,788 5,235,581 -44.4 1,708 5 1,704 34,822,423 Warner Bros.
9 The Ladies Man 2,813,168 5,426,390 -48.2 2,043 2 1,377 9,633,128 Paramount
10 Dr. T and the Women 2,379,758 5,012,867 -52.5 1,489 2 1,598 9,000,146 Artisan
11 Best in Show 2,162,463 2,137,861 1.2 497 4 4,351 6,774,310 Warner Bros.
12 Almost Famous 1,240,303 2,192,827 -43.4 1,707 6 727 28,714,323 DreamWorks
13 Get Carter 1,110,244 2,916,232 -61.9 1,925 3 577 13,883,135 Warner Bros.
14 Bring It On 971,805 1,640,250 -40.8 1,751 9 555 66,081,515 Universal
15 Digimon 901,455 1,936,896 -53.5 1,649 3 547 8,539,674 Fox
16 Bamboozled 569,756 105,789 438.6 244 3 2,335 983,353 New Line
17 Urban Legends : Final Cut 524,513 1,207,255 -56.6 1,081 5 485 21,007,274 Sony
18 Billy Elliot 489,415 215,681 126.9 37 2 13,227 812,532 Uni. Focus
19 What Lies Beneath 348,471 648,531 -46.3 697 14 500 153,643,849 DreamWorks
20 Dancer in the Dark 328,382 393,186 -16.5 126 5 2,606 2,076,817 Fine Line
Top 5 $ 52,518,808 $ 52,970,862 -0.9
Top 10 67,346,403 70,466,230 -4.4
Top 20 75,993,210 78,314,566 -3.0
Top 20 vs. 1999 75,993,210 71,146,511 6.8

Last Updated : October 23 at 9:00PM EDT

Written by Gitesh Pandya