Weekend Box Office (October 25 - 27, 2002)

THIS WEEKEND Paramount scored its first number one opener since May with the better-than-expected launch of its reality-based comedy Jackass: The Movie which topped the pre-Halloween box office leaving a pair of horror films to follow behind it. Last week's champ The Ring fell to second place with a strong sophomore performance while the new spook flick Ghost Ship docked in third with a mediocre opening. Overall box office sales rose to a level that was frighteningly potent for this time of year.

Immature young guys charged the multiplexes this weekend to see Jackass, the feature adaptation of the hit MTV series featuring crude stunts, and Paramount laughed all the way to the bank with $22.8M, according to final figures. The R-rated picture averaged a stellar $9,073 in 2,509 theaters and delivered the third best October opening ever after Red Dragon ($36.5M) and Meet the Parents ($28.6M). Proving once again that critics and moviegoers can often have opposite views on a film, Jackass suffered the worst critical bashing of any new release this weekend, but scored the best grade by far from audiences polled by CinemaScore.com (A-).

Paramount targeted and reached its intended demographic of young men. Males made up 66% of the crowd while 71% were under 25, according to studio research. Adding to the celebration was the film's low cost of only $5M which will make the picture extremely profitable and quite possibly franchiseable. As expected for a feature with a loyal cult following, Friday saw the biggest turnout with $9.8M, Saturday suffered a 19% drop to $7.95M, and Sunday fell 37% to $5M. Saturday and Sunday evenings were also affected by games 6 and 7 of a dramatic World Series which drew millions of male viewers.

Courting young males is never an easy task in the movie industry as evidenced by recent flops like Knockaround Guys, Stealing Harvard, and Formula 51. Jackass benefited from a built-in fan base and the promise that the admission price would allow one to see wilder antics than anything seen on MTV. The powerful opening for Jackass should come as good news to Universal which will open the similarly-targeted Eminem picture 8 Mile in two weeks.

Lord of the box office last weekend, the DreamWorks suspense hit The Ring slipped to second place but generated a bigger haul taking in $18.5M for a 23% boost. The increase was attributed to good word-of-mouth, the added demand for scary movies with Halloween approaching, and the studio's expansion into 653 more theaters. The PG-13 film averaged a fantastic $7,019 from 2,634 theaters in its second weekend and raised its ten-day cume to a frightening $39.4M. The Ring, a tale of people who die after watching a mysterious videocassette, watched its per-theater average ease a mere 7% from last weekend when it opened. Horror films routinely plunge in their second weekends, however the remake of a Japanese blockbuster has proven to be a crowdpleaser and the scary movie of choice this pumpkin season. Budgeted at $43M, The Ring should find its way to $80-90M.

With so many fright fans gripped by the deadly videotape, the opening for the new horror flick Ghost Ship sunk below those of other pre-Halloween spookfests. The Warner Bros. title grossed $11.5M from 2,787 theaters (the most of any new release this weekend) for a decent $4,128 average. Former ER star Julianna Margulies heads up the cast as a salvage crew stumbles upon a cruise ship haunted by its long-deceased passengers. Critics were not impressed and neither were fans as the R-rated suspenser earned a disappointing C+ grade from CinemaScore.com. The opening for Ghost Ship was weaker than those for producer Dark Castle's other recent late-October horror flicks, 1999's The House on Haunted Hill and last year's 13 Ghosts, which both bowed with over $15M each from a similar amount of playdates.

The South was still going strong as Sweet Home Alabama eased just 32% and grossed $6.5M putting it in fourth place. The Buena Vista release has taken in $107.3M to date and stands as Reese Witherspoon's highest grossing film ever.

Another female-led comedy that continues to remain popular at the box office is My Big Fat Greek Wedding which dipped only 13% to $6.2M in its 28th weekend of play. The IFC Films smash has grossed $177.7M to date and should surpass the $200M mark by Thanksgiving.

Hannibal Lecter dropped 47% to sixth place as Red Dragon collected $4.7M lifting the cume of the Universal title to $84.9M. The big-budget serial killer film will have to work hard in order to reach $100M domestically.

Sony expanded the Adam Sandler starrer Punch-Drunk Love from 78 to 481 theaters and grossed $3.3M for a solid $6,878 average. While critics have generally been pleased with Paul Thomas Anderson's latest cinematic effort, moviegoers polled by CinemaScore.com gave the film a poor D+ grade this weekend. With $5.9M in the bank, Love widens into over 1,000 theaters on Friday.

Fox's The Transporter fell 45% to $2.81M boosting the cume to $21.5M. Ninth place was claimed by the Fox Searchlight comedy Brown Sugar with $2.78M, off 47%, and a $22.3M sum. Kidpic Jonah: A VeggieTales Movie slipped 30% to $2.75M and lifted its total to $19.6M.

The Jackie Chan-Jennifer Love Hewitt collaboration The Tuxedo dipped 37% to $2.6M and raised its total to $46.5M. The DreamWorks release should finish with $50-55M. Disney's Tuck Everlasting declined 31% to $2.58M to stand at $14M on its way to $20-22M. Paramount's college thriller Abandon tumbled 54% in its second weekend taking in $2.35M giving the Katie Holmes pic just $8.4M in ten days. Budgeted at $20M, the teen flick should conclude with only $12-14M.

Universal's new romantic thriller The Truth About Charlie starring Mark Wahlberg and Thandie Newton flopped in its opening with $2.27M putting it in 14th place on the charts. Playing in 753 theaters, the PG-13 pic averaged $3,015 per location. Moviegoers polled by CinemaScore.com gave Charlie a discouraging D grade.

Miramax had a busy weekend debuting three limited releases with mixed results. The Harlem-set urban drama Paid in Full opened with $1.3M from 268 locations for a solid $4,958 average. However, the much-delayed Patrick Swayze-Charlize Theron starrer Waking Up in Reno was tossed into the marketplace with little promotion and grossed $108,930 from 197 sites for an embarrasing $553 average. The distributor collected more cash for its platform bow of the Salma Hayek biopic Frida which brought in $205,996 from 5 New York and Los Angeles venues for a spectacular $41,199 average. A gradual expansion will occur throughout November.

UA's award-winning documentary Bowling for Columbine more than doubled its run expanding from 46 to 111 theaters and grossed $1.1M for a powerful $9,704 average. Michael Moore's statement on America's gun-loving culture has shot up $2.5M to date and is on track to become one of the highest-grossing docs ever. The Jerry Seinfeld concert documentary Comedian laughed up $205,320 from 30 venues for a funny $6,844 average and $363,733 cume.

Elsewhere, Artisan debuted its coming-of-age pic Roger Dodger in four New York-Los Angeles locations and grossed $47,431 for an encouraging $11,858 average. The Campbell Scott pic adds a dozen more cities on Friday. Meanwhile UA opened Mike Leigh's All or Nothing in the same two showbiz towns and saw just $25,890 in ticket sales from seven sites for a poor $3,699 average.

The top ten films grossed $81.8M which was up 21% from last year when K-Pax opened at number one with $17.2M; and also up 21% from 2000 when Meet the Parents remained in the top spot for the fourth consecutive weekend with $15M.

Compared to projections, Jackass opened well north of my $11M forecast while Ghost Ship debuted below my $16M prediction. Punch-Drunk Love came in with less than my $6M projection and The Truth About Charlie was close to my $3M forecast.

Take this week's NEW Reader Survey on which of next weekend's new films will have the best opening. In last week's survey, readers were asked whether Ghost Ship would open with at least $15M. Of 1,132 responses, 50% said Yes while the other 50% correctly guessed No.

Be sure to check back on Thursday for a complete summary, including projections, for next weekend when I Spy and The Santa Clause 2 both open.

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

# Title Oct 25 - 27 Oct 18 - 20 % Chg. Theaters Weeks AVG Cumulative Distributor
1 Jackass: The Movie $ 22,763,437 2,509 1 $ 9,073 $ 22,763,437 Paramount
2 The Ring 18,488,259 15,015,393 23.1 2,634 2 7,019 39,391,301 DreamWorks
3 Ghost Ship 11,503,423 2,787 1 4,128 11,503,423 Warner Bros.
4 Sweet Home Alabama 6,524,217 9,559,978 -31.8 3,182 5 2,050 107,302,338 Buena Vista
5 My Big Fat Greek Wedding 6,209,500 7,145,309 -13.1 1,967 28 3,157 177,698,447 IFC Films
6 Red Dragon 4,660,890 8,763,545 -46.8 2,886 4 1,615 84,917,835 Universal
7 Punch-Drunk Love 3,308,223 1,480,932 123.4 481 3 6,878 5,861,261 Sony
8 The Transporter 2,811,751 5,083,217 -44.7 1,884 3 1,492 21,471,206 Fox
9 Brown Sugar 2,784,029 5,215,091 -46.6 1,146 3 2,429 22,348,965 Fox Searchlight
10 Jonah: A VeggieTales Movie 2,754,102 3,906,223 -29.5 1,625 4 1,695 19,551,201 Artisan
11 The Tuxedo 2,603,966 4,122,131 -36.8 1,707 5 1,525 46,544,053 DreamWorks
12 Tuck Everlasting 2,579,831 3,758,808 -31.4 1,460 3 1,767 13,995,575 Buena Vista
13 Abandon 2,348,345 5,064,077 -53.6 2,347 2 1,001 8,372,197 Paramount
14 The Truth About Charlie 2,270,290 753 1 3,015 2,270,290 Universal
15 White Oleander 1,776,347 3,146,127 -43.5 1,402 3 1,267 13,670,201 Warner Bros.
16 Barbershop 1,607,008 2,407,492 -33.2 1,419 7 1,132 71,156,231 MGM/UA
17 Paid in Full 1,328,789 268 1 4,958 1,328,789 Miramax
18 Bowling for Columbine 1,077,129 728,051 47.9 111 3 9,704 2,498,319 MGM/UA
19 Formula 51 964,019 2,817,719 -65.8 1,857 2 519 4,677,676 Sony
20 Knockaround Guys 808,580 2,455,142 -67.1 1,304 3 620 11,067,255 New Line
Top 5 $ 65,488,836 $ 45,699,316 43.3
Top 10 81,807,831 67,633,772 21.0
Top 20 99,172,135 83,873,095 18.2
Top 20 vs. 2001 99,172,135 80,706,392 22.9

Last Updated : October 29, 2002 at 12:30AM EST