Weekend Box Office (November 1 - 3, 2002)

THIS WEEKEND Disney was simply having a wonderful Christmas time with the top spot debut of the family sequel The Santa Clause 2 which easily outperformed the frame's other new release, Eddie Murphy's action-comedy I Spy, which suffered a disappointing third-place bow. Suspense fans continued to flock to The Ring which is on its way to the blockbuster circle after a terrific third weekend.

Eight years after the original comedy smash, Tim Allen's The Santa Clause 2 debuted in first place with $29M from an extremely wide 3,350 theaters, according to final studio figures. The G-rated kidpic averaged a jolly $8,659 per stocking. Ticket buyers were quite pleased with the product as moviegoers polled by CinemaScore.com gave the family film an overall A grade while the key under-21 segment gave it a A+.

Children and parents made up most of the audience, as expected, while females outnumbered males accounting for 54% of the crowd. A very high 93% of those polled by studio exit polls found Clause to be "excellent" or "very good." This bodes well for Disney which chose the early November frame as its launching pad to avoid the juggernaut Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets which bows in two weeks as well as the studio's own high-profile animated adventure Treasure Planet which aims to lure families over Thanksgiving. The original The Santa Clause opened with $19.3M from 2,183 theaters ($8,851 average) in November 1994 representing just 13% of its eventual $144.8M domestic haul.

Showing Greek Wedding-type legs, the suspense thriller The Ring delivered another incredible performance showing a miniscule 2% decline from last weekend with $18.1M in its third viewing. DreamWorks added 174 playdates and averaged $6,452 in 2,808 locations. That represented a scant 8% drop in The Ring's per-theater average - rare for any movie, much less a horror flick. To date, the Gore Verbinski-directed remake of a Japanese hit has grossed $64.5M in 17 days and is on a collision course with the $100M mark.

Eddie Murphy suffered his third disappointment of the year with the debut of the action-comedy I Spy which bowed in third with only $12.8M. Playing ultrawide in 3,182 locations, the PG-13 film averaged just $4,008. The Betty Thomas-directed pic finds Murphy and Owen Wilson playing a mismatched pair on an espionage mission. Produced for a reported $70M, I Spy did not impress too many critics and faired moderately well with moviegoers as those polled by CinemaScore.com gave the film a B grade. Murphy's last release, The Adventures of Pluto Nash, was one of the year's biggest bombs opening with a paltry $2.2M in August, while his buddy cop pic Showtime with Robert De Niro bowed to $15M last March.

The pranksters of Jackass: The Movie who dominated the charts last weekend fell a less-than-expected 44% to $12.7M. Paramount's $5M venture has grossed $42.1M in only ten days and looks to conclude with $70-75M. Future installments may not be too far behind.

Fellow sophomore Ghost Ship tumbled 42% to $6.7M and lifted its ten-day cume to $21.3M. The Warner Bros. horror entry should finish with $35-38M putting it below the levels of previous Halloween spookfests Thirteen Ghosts ($41.9M) and The House on Haunted Hill ($40.8M).

After an amazing ten-week run in the top five, My Big Fat Greek Wedding fell from grace, sort of, and claimed sixth place with $5.6M. Now in its 29th weekend of release, the ethnic comedy smash slipped just 9% and has collected a mammoth $185.2M. That breaks the eleven-year-old record for highest-grossing movie to never hit number one on any weekend. The benchmark was previously held by 1990's Dances With Wolves with $184.2M. Of course, ticket prices were much lower at that time so its admissions were higher. Greek Wedding also bumped the Kevin Costner Oscar winner from the number 50 spot on the list of all-time domestic blockbusters.

Buena Vista's Sweet Home Alabama dipped just 30% to $4.6M in its sixth weekend and upped it sum to $113.4M.

Sony expanded its Adam Sandler flick Punch-Drunk Love into wider national release and continued to see its average get diluted down. The Paul Thomas Anderson film grossed $4M from 1,252 theaters (up 771) averaging $3,198. While Love has performed well in the top markets, excitement in medium and smaller markets has been less pronounced. Cume to date is $10.9M and no major expansions are planned.

Universal's Red Dragon fell 42% to $2.7M for a $89M total. Membership in the century club now seems impossible without some sort of special re-release. Brown Sugar, from Fox Searchlight, took in $1.7M for a $24.6M cume to round out the top ten.

A pair of films fell out of the top ten. Artisan's kidpic Jonah: A VeggieTales Movie took in $1.5M, off 46%, raising the cume to $21.6M. Fox actioner The Transporter tumbled 54% to $1.3M and a $23.6M cume. Both pictures should conclude with about $25M each.

MGM/UA continued to roll out its award-winning documentary Bowling for Columbine which widened from 111 to 162 sites and shot up to within striking distance of the top ten with $1.5M. Sitting in 11th place, the Michael Moore film averaged a solid $9,514 per venue, off 2% from last weekend's average. Cume is $4.5M.

Star Wars Episode II made a sparkling debut on Imax screens this weekend grossing $1.4M from just 58 sites for a forceful $24,746 average. Artisan expanded Roger Dodger into 25 locations and took in $156,753 for a good $6,270 average and $221,584 cume. A widening into a dozen more cities is on tap for Friday.

Miramax expanded its arthouse pics Frida and Comedian and witnessed differing results. The Salma Hayek starrer grossed $1M from 47 theaters for a potent $21,295 average. Julie Taymor's biopic has taken in $1.3M and hits the top 20 markets next weekend. On the other hand, Jerry Seinfeld's concert documentary brought in just $689,436 for a not-so-funny $3,064 average and $1.1M total.

The top ten films grossed $97.9M which was down 24% from last year when Monsters Inc. opened at number one with a record $62.6M; but up 6% from 2000 when Charlie's Angels debuted in the top spot with $40.1M.

Compared to projections, The Santa Clause 2 opened very close to my $28M forecast while I Spy debuted well below my $26M prediction.

Take this week's NEW Reader Survey on Leonardo Dicaprio's two new films. In last week's survey, readers were asked which of this weekend's new films would have the best opening. Of 4,908 responses, 68% correctly guessed The Santa Clause 2 while 32% picked I Spy.

Be sure to check back on Thursday for a complete summary, including projections, for next weekend when 8 Mile and Femme Fatale both open.

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

# Title Nov 1 - 3 Oct 25 - 27 % Chg. Theaters Weeks AVG Cumulative Distributor
1 The Santa Clause 2 $ 29,008,696 3,350 1 $ 8,659 $ 29,008,696 Buena Vista
2 The Ring 18,117,187 18,488,259 -2.0 2,808 3 6,452 64,543,397 DreamWorks
3 I Spy 12,752,803 3,182 1 4,008 12,752,803 Sony
4 Jackass: The Movie 12,729,732 22,763,437 -44.1 2,530 2 5,032 42,121,857 Paramount
5 Ghost Ship 6,654,469 11,503,423 -42.2 2,787 2 2,388 21,349,562 Warner Bros.
6 My Big Fat Greek Wedding 5,623,149 6,209,500 -9.4 1,977 29 2,844 185,244,976 IFC Films
7 Sweet Home Alabama 4,598,229 6,524,217 -29.5 2,441 6 1,884 113,447,131 Buena Vista
8 Punch-Drunk Love 4,003,535 3,308,223 21.0 1,252 4 3,198 10,861,175 Sony
9 Red Dragon 2,728,595 4,660,890 -41.5 1,949 5 1,400 89,047,085 Universal
10 Brown Sugar 1,672,437 2,784,029 -39.9 854 4 1,958 24,592,014 Fox Searchlight
11 Bowling for Columbine 1,541,193 1,077,129 43.1 162 4 9,514 4,518,239 MGM/UA
12 Jonah: A VeggieTales Movie 1,493,324 2,754,102 -45.8 1,604 5 931 21,621,641 Artisan
13 Tuck Everlasting 1,475,385 2,579,831 -42.8 1,237 4 1,193 16,090,442 Buena Vista
14 Star Wars Episode II: IMAX 1,441,922 75 25 19,226 303,626,511 Fox
15 The Transporter 1,289,040 2,811,751 -54.2 1,114 4 1,157 23,550,484 Fox
16 The Truth About Charlie 1,257,085 2,270,290 -44.6 755 2 1,665 4,159,690 Universal
17 Barbershop 1,159,026 1,607,008 -27.9 1,173 8 988 72,708,530 MGM/UA
18 The Tuxedo 1,150,739 2,603,966 -55.8 1,255 6 917 48,220,585 DreamWorks
19 Frida 1,000,862 205,996 385.9 47 2 21,295 1,323,935 Miramax
20 Abandon 876,788 2,348,345 -62.7 1,731 3 507 9,819,915 Paramount
Top 5 $ 79,262,887 $ 65,488,836 21.0
Top 10 97,888,832 81,807,831 19.7
Top 20 110,574,196 99,172,135 11.5
Top 20 vs. 2001 110,574,196 139,315,789 -20.6

Last Updated : November 4, 2002 at 11:45PM EST