Weekend Box Office (October 27 - 29, 2000)

THIS WEEKEND Surprising most industry analysts, Book of Shadows : Blair Witch 2 settled for second place behind the runaway blockbuster hit Meet the Parents which retained the top spot for the fourth straight weekend. John Travolta suffered one of the worst openings of his career with the comedy Lucky Numbers while the children's film The Little Vampire delivered a modest debut during the weekend before Halloween. With the pumpkin holiday falling on a Tuesday this year, it meant fewer weekend distractions affecting the box office which surged well ahead of year-ago levels.

Slipping a scant 6%, the Robert De Niro-Ben Stiller laughfest Meet the Parents was number one again with $15M, according to final studio figures. Its depreciation was by far the smallest in the top ten and its per-theater average of $5,685 was the best among that group. The Jay Roach-directed hit crossed the $100M mark on Sunday, its 24th day of release. Meet the Parents has become the first movie since The Sixth Sense to hold the top spot for four consecutive weeks.

Opening in a mammoth 3,317 theaters this weekend was Blair Witch 2 which grossed a less-than-expected $13.2M. The sequel to the 1999 indie smash The Blair Witch Project averaged a humble $3,987 per venue. Given the huge theater total, the extensive marketing, the awareness of the franchise, the Halloween weekend launch, and little competition for the target audience of teens and young adults, most industry experts predicted that Blair Witch 2 would easily open at number one this weekend with a much larger gross. In fact, by premiering in 3,317 locations (with most multiplexes setting aside multiple auditoriums), the Artisan Entertainment release claimed the fifth widest launch in box office history behind Mission: Impossible 2 (3,653 theaters), Scream 3 (3,467), The Perfect Storm (3,407), and Wild Wild West (3,342) but could not deliver a powerful gross.

Reviews for the R-rated horror picture were brutal and initial exit polls indicate poor word-of-mouth. Blair Witch 2 finds a new group of thrillseekers in search of the legendary witch only to be victimized in the process. The predecessor also opened in the runnerup spot when it expanded nationwide in July 1999. The Blair Witch Project widened in its third weekend and captured a terrifying $29.2M from only 1,101 theaters on its way to grossing $140.5M domestically and $240M worldwide. The film quickly became a pop culture phenomenon leading its distributor, Artisan Entertainment, to greenlight a sequel and a prequel. Carrying a production cost of $15M, Blair Witch 2 should still become a profitable film for the company after worldwide theatrical, home video, television, merchandising, and soundtrack revenues are tallied.

Disney's durable drama Remember the Titans ranked third with $8M in its fifth weekend. Off only 19%, the Denzel Washington football tale has raised its mighty cume to $87.8M and is well on its way to becoming producer Jerry Bruckheimer's top-grossing film of the year surpassing Gone in Sixty Seconds and Coyote Ugly. Remember the Titans and Meet the Parents have become a formidable tag team this fall bringing the box office out of a recent slump and helping October sales reach new heights. The pair will easily collect over $275M domestically between them.

Fox's comedy Bedazzled slipped 40% in its second weekend and took in $7.8M. Starring Brendan Fraser and Elizabeth Hurley, the Harold Ramis-directed picture has grossed $24.1M in ten days. Fellow sophomore Pay it Forward enjoyed a better hold dipping just 29% to $6.8M for fifth place. The Warner Bros. release stars Kevin Spacey, Helen Hunt, and Haley Joel Osment and has taken in $19M in ten days. Both films look to reach $40-45M domestically.

Taking over the sixth spot was the new family comedy The Little Vampire which opened with $5.7M. Released by New Line just in time for Halloween, the PG-rated film stars Jonathan Lipnicki as a young boy who befriends a junior vampire. Launching in 2,009 theaters, the kids film averaged $2,847 per site.

John Travolta's new comedy Lucky Numbers failed to live up to its title as its opening weekend gross turned out to be a poor $4.5M. The Paramount title debuted wide in 2,497 theaters but averaged a pitiful $1,817 per venue marking one of the worst opening averages for the studio in recent years. Directed by Nora Ephron, Lucky Numbers stars Travolta as a television weatherman whose plot to fix the state lottery with the station's lotto ball girl (played by Lisa Kudrow) goes haywire.

Plagued by bad reviews, Lucky Numbers represents the second consecutive dismal box office showing for John Travolta following the summer's most infamous flop Battlefield Earth. Also, the R-rated dark comedy generated a debut that was on par with the actor's 1997 failure Mad City which bowed with $4.6M from 2,194 locations. A Paramount spokesperson expressed disappointment with the opening of Lucky Numbers but noted that the studio covered only one-third of the film's $63M budget. France's StudioCanal was responsible for the remainer and took overseas rights. Despite the split, Paramount is unlikely to recoup its investment (which also included domestic prints and advertising) given this weekend's performance. The long-term picture looks bleak as evidenced by the CinemaScore results for Lucky Numbers with mature adults giving a grade of F.

The political thriller The Contender dropped 30% in the polls to $2.5M bringing the cume of the DreamWorks release to $14M. Jackie Chan's The Legend of Drunken Master stumbled 37% in its second weekend to $2.4M lifting its ten-day sum to a modest $7.4M. The satirical comedy Best in Show reclaimed the tenth spot with $1.8M, down only 16%, lifting its cume to $9.2M from less than 500 theaters.

One re-released hit and a trio of autumn clunkers dropped out of the top ten over the weekend. The Exorcist captured $1.6M during the weekend before Halloween and raised its spooky total to a healthy $37.2M. The reissue of the 1973 suspense blockbuster turned out to be one the season's pleasant surprises and a $40M final seems likely which would put The Exorcist's lifetime gross in the neighborhood of $205M. New Line's demonic thriller Lost Souls plunged another 58% to $1.4M. With $15.2M in 17 days, the Winona Ryder film should conclude with a disappointing $17-19M.

The Ladies Man starring Tim Meadows fell 46% to $1.5M pushing its total to $11.9M to date. Produced for $11M, the Paramount comedy looks to end its run with $15-17M, or roughly half the amounts that recent Saturday Night Live-inspired films Superstar and A Night at the Roxbury generated. Robert Altman's Dr. T and the Women continued its quick erosion with $11.1M thus far with a final tally of $14M likely.

The top ten films grossed $67.9M over the weekend which was up 35% from last year when The House on Haunted Hill debuted in the top spot with $15.9M; and up 57% from 1998 when Vampires opened at number one with $9.1M.

Compared to projections, Blair Witch 2 and Lucky Numbers both opened below my respective forecasts of $18M and $12M. The Little Vampire, however, debuted very near my $6M prediction.

Take this week's NEW Reader Survey on the opening of Charlie's Angels. In last week's survey, readers were asked how much Meet the Parents would eventually gross. Of 1,674 responses, 20% said Under $125M, 70% selected $125-150M, and 10% thought Over $150M.

Read the Weekly Rewind column which examines the top November debuts. For a review of Blair Witch 2 visit The Chief Report.

Be sure to check back on Thursday for a complete summary, including projections, for next weekend when Charlie's Angels and The Legend of Bagger Vance both premiere.

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

# Title Oct. 27 - 29 Oct. 20 - 22 % Chg. Theaters Weeks AVG Cumulative Dist.
1 Meet the Parents $ 15,048,475 $ 16,015,185 -6.0 2,647 4 $ 5,685 $ 100,014,250 Universal
2 Blair Witch 2 13,223,887 3,317 1 3,987 13,223,887 Artisan
3 Remember the Titans 8,027,728 9,920,460 -19.1 2,803 5 2,864 87,767,175 Buena Vista
4 Bedazzled 7,829,426 13,106,526 -40.3 2,571 2 3,045 24,146,411 Fox
5 Pay it Forward 6,803,726 9,631,359 -29.4 2,130 2 3,194 19,035,222 Warner Bros.
6 The Little Vampire 5,719,627 2,009 1 2,847 5,719,627 New Line
7 Lucky Numbers 4,536,625 2,497 1 1,817 4,536,625 Paramount
8 The Contender 2,451,799 3,486,109 -29.7 1,639 3 1,496 13,986,191 DreamWorks
9 The Legend of Drunken Master 2,429,386 3,845,278 -36.8 1,345 2 1,806 7,379,757 Miramax
10 Best in Show 1,827,376 2,162,463 -15.5 497 5 3,677 9,239,552 Warner Bros.
11 The Exorcist (reissue) 1,585,848 2,910,788 -45.5 1,401 6 1,132 37,216,314 Warner Bros.
12 The Ladies Man 1,511,455 2,813,168 -46.3 1,823 3 829 11,898,184 Paramount
13 Lost Souls 1,369,140 3,237,772 -57.7 1,708 3 802 15,158,169 New Line
14 Dr. T and the Women 1,288,029 2,379,758 -45.9 1,204 3 1,070 11,080,265 Artisan
15 Almost Famous 695,384 1,240,303 -43.9 707 7 984 29,819,247 DreamWorks
16 Billy Elliot 573,744 489,415 17.2 37 3 15,507 1,586,245 Uni. Focus
17 Mohabbatein 570,000 53 1 10,755 570,000 Yash Raj Films
18 Bring It On 398,505 971,805 -59.0 857 10 465 66,664,570 Universal
19 Bamboozled 357,926 569,756 -37.2 243 4 1,473 1,518,155 New Line
20 Digimon 332,195 901,455 -63.1 958 4 347 9,009,288 Fox
Top 5 $ 50,933,242 $ 52,518,808 -3.0
Top 10 67,898,055 67,346,403 0.8
Top 20 76,580,281 75,993,210 0.8
Top 20 vs. 1999 76,580,281 62,270,251 23.0

Last Updated : October 30 at 8:15PM EDT

Written by Gitesh Pandya