Weekend Box Office (November 2 - 4, 2001)

THIS WEEKEND The holiday movie season got off to an explosive start as three new films took control of over 10,000 screens and pumped nearly $100M into the marketplace setting the pace for what should be a scorching end-of-year run at the North American box office. The Disney/Pixar juggernaut Monsters, Inc. led the way by appealing to a broad audience, Sony's action film The One courted young men, and Paramount's thriller Domestic Disturbance scored with adults.

With its one eye gazing into the record books, the computer-animated comedy Monsters, Inc. opened triumphantly at number one with a jaw-dropping $62.6M in ticket sales, according to final studio figures, over the Friday-to-Sunday period making it the biggest opening ever for Disney and for an animated film. Those benchmarks were previously held by last summer's Pearl Harbor and 1999's Toy Story 2 with $59.1M and $57.4M respectively. Opening in 3,237 theaters, Monsters, Inc. averaged a monstrous $19,332 per location. With a reported $90M budget, the comical picture features Billy Crystal and John Goodman voicing a pair of monsters whose world is turned upside down when a human girl enters it.

The colossal bow of the G-rated blockbuster ranks sixth among the all-time largest opening weekends but what makes its debut so incredible is the fact that the animated film was not derived from pre-existing material. Most films that have launched north of $50M have been sequels (The Lost World), remakes (Planet of the Apes), or movies based on already recognizable subject matter (X-Men). With Monsters, Inc., Disney and Pixar gambled by offering brand new characters not based on any popular children's property and smacked a grand slam with it.

Disney reported that Monsters, Inc. played exceptionally well across the board to all demographic groups and that evening shows were selling out everywhere showing that the film is not just playing to families. Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the toon a glowing A+ grade while the studio's own exit polling showed that 100% of moviegoers rated the film "excellent" or "very good" indicating that long-term playability will be rock solid. Monsters, Inc. also got a box office boost by having the teaser trailer to Star Wars Episode II attached to it.

According to Buena Vista, Monsters, Inc. grossed $17.8M on Friday, surged 49% to $26.5M on Saturday, and slipped 31% to $18.2M on Sunday. The middle day stands as the second biggest Saturday in box office history behind the $26.9M that The Mummy Returns collected last May during it $68.1M bow.

The previous three films produced by Pixar have been released over Thanksgiving weekend and have grossed a staggering $1.2 billion at theaters worldwide. However with Warner Bros. planting its event film Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone on November 16, Disney wisely chose to schedule Monsters, Inc. two weeks ahead of the young wizard in order to establish itself in the marketplace. With Monsters, Inc. debuting with a towering $63.5M, the question now becomes - how big will Harry Potter open?

Those looking for some violence in their weekend movie choice found it in Jet Li's sci-fi action film The One which opened at number two with $19.1M. The PG-13 film played in 2,894 theaters and averaged a terrific $6,604 per site. Sony, which snagged worldwide rights, reported that The One played mostly to young males and drew a wide ethnic range of moviegoers. The $49M effects-driven picture earned a B grade from CinemaScore audiences and marks the biggest opening ever for the martial arts superstar beating last year's Romeo Must Die ($18M) as well as this year's Kiss of the Dragon ($13.3M). In what has been a difficult year for Sony, The One delivered the studio's third best opening of 2001 trailing the summer comedies America's Sweethearts ($30.2M) and The Animal ($19.6M).

John Travolta debuted in third place with the suspense thriller Domestic Disturbance which grossed $14M. The Paramount release bowed very wide playing in 2,910 theaters and averaged a good $4,822 per location. Directed by Harold Becker and co-starring Vince Vaughn and Teri Polo, the PG-13 film finds Travolta playing a father who fights to save his son from his evil new stepdad who brings with him a questionable past. Adult women were the primary ticket buyers as females made up 58% of the audience while 73% were age 25 or over, according to studio data. Produced for $53M, Domestic Disturbance enjoyed a sturdy 34% Friday-to-Saturday increase and earned a B grade from moviegoers polled by CinemaScore.

Slipping from first to fourth, Universal's sci-fi drama K-Pax declined a reasonable 42% to $10.1M in its second weekend. With $31.5M in ten days, the $48M Kevin Spacey starrer should reach about $60M. Also in its sophomore frame, the haunted house flick Thirteen Ghosts tumbled an understandable 48% to $7.9M. Produced for under $20M, the Warner Bros. release has scared up $27.7M in ten days and looks to end its domestic run with $40-45M.

Drew Barrymore's Riding in Cars With Boys enjoyed the smallest decline in the top ten easing 33% to $4.1M giving the Sony release $24.6M to date. Dropping 42% to $3.5M was the serial killer thriller From Hell which has now slashed up $26.2M in 17 days.

Denzel Washington's cop pic Training Day placed eighth with $3.1M for a $69.6M cume. The Bruce Willis film Bandits followed with $2.8M, off 44%, putting the total for the MGM crime comedy at $36.3M. Miramax's romantic comedy Serendipity rounded out the top ten with $2.4M boosting the John Cusack picture's sum to a healthy $43.5M.

USA Films witnessed a superb opening for the latest film from Joel and Ethan Coen, The Man Who Wasn't There, which grossed $664,404 from only 39 theaters for a sizzling $17,036 average per venue. Starring Billy Bob Thornton and Frances McDormand, the black-and-white film noir played in 17 markets and has generated spectacular reviews. USA will expand Man throughout the month and plans to be in over 200 theaters by Thanksgiving.

Also premiering in limited release was the French-language comedy Amelie which grossed $136,470 from only three theaters in New York and Los Angeles. After strong results from France, Germany and the United Kingdom, the hit film bowed in North America with a stellar $45,490 average per venue. Miramax is handling domestic distribution for Amelie.

Fox reported encouraging results for its Friday sneak previews of the Farrelly brothers comedy Shallow Hal. Of the 500 sneaks, 90-95% were sold out and 99% thought the film was "excellent" or "very good" according to the studio's exit polls. Males and females were evenly split and the audience was primarily under the age of 40. Starring Gwenyth Paltrow and Jack Black, Shallow Hal opens nationwide in over 2,700 theaters this Friday opposite the Warner Bros. crime drama Heist starring Gene Hackman and Danny DeVito.

Three modest fall performers dropped out of the top ten over the weekend. Robert Redford's prison drama The Last Castle fell over 50% in its second weekend to $1.7M bringing its 17-day cume to a disappointing $15.9M. Produced for an estimated $55M, the DreamWorks film should end up with only $20M.

New Line's horror flick Bones also saw sales get sliced in half and took in $1.4M in its sophomore frame pushing its ten-day total to a meager $5.7M. The $11M Snoop Dogg starrer looks to reach $8M before finding its true audience on video. Buena Vista's $11M comedy Corky Romano has grossed $22.2M in 24 days and should finish with about $25M.

The top ten films grossed an astounding $129.5M which was up 40% from last year when Charlie's Angels debuted in the top spot with $40.1M; and up an amazing 120% from 1999 when The Bone Collector opened at number one with $16.7M.

Compared to projections, Monsters, Inc. went well beyond my bullish $45M forecast. The One and Domestic Disturbance, however, were both on target with my respective projections of $20M and $14M.

Take this week's NEW Reader Survey on the box office potential of Monsters, Inc. In last week's survey, readers were asked how many weeks will Harry Potter spend at number one. Of 2,356 responses, 37% said Two, 39% guessed Three, 16% picked Four, and 8% voted Five or More.

Read the Weekly Rewind column which reports on the biggest opening weekends of November before this year. For a review of Monsters, Inc. visit The Chief Report.

Be sure to check back on Thursday for a complete summary, including projections, for next weekend when Shallow Hal and Heist both open nationwide.

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

# Title Nov 2 - 4 Oct 26 - 28 % Chg. Theaters Weeks AVG Cumulative Dist.
1 Monsters, Inc. $ 62,577,067 3,237 1 $ 19,332 $ 62,577,067 Buena Vista
2 The One 19,112,404 2,894 1 6,604 19,112,404 Sony
3 Domestic Disturbance 14,033,112 2,910 1 4,822 14,033,112 Paramount
4 K-Pax 10,065,475 17,215,275 -41.5 2,545 2 3,955 31,524,965 Universal
5 Thirteen Ghosts 7,875,510 15,165,355 -48.1 2,781 2 2,832 27,692,271 Warner Bros.
6 Riding in Cars with Boys 4,056,350 6,011,394 -32.5 2,554 3 1,588 24,562,107 Sony
7 From Hell 3,504,412 6,019,012 -41.8 1,947 3 1,800 26,246,578 Fox
8 Training Day 3,052,422 5,137,712 -40.6 1,805 5 1,691 69,569,698 Warner Bros.
9 Bandits 2,824,822 5,048,007 -44.0 2,116 4 1,335 36,270,462 MGM
10 Serendipity 2,393,304 3,811,923 -37.2 1,640 5 1,459 43,465,749 Miramax
11 The Last Castle 1,740,647 3,626,006 -52.0 1,813 3 960 15,941,255 DreamWorks
12 Bones 1,414,962 2,823,548 -49.9 847 2 1,671 5,721,006 New Line
13 Corky Romano 1,327,307 2,997,670 -55.7 1,410 4 941 22,151,063 Buena Vista
14 On the Line 1,007,610 2,307,063 -56.3 901 2 1,118 3,617,435 Miramax
15 Don't Say A Word 996,959 2,302,271 -56.7 884 6 1,128 53,051,306 Fox
16 Zoolander 731,540 1,618,333 -54.8 1,012 6 723 43,423,234 Paramount
17 The Others 678,453 434,170 56.3 1,663 13 408 96,080,075 Miramax
18 Hardball 674,314 947,875 -28.9 710 8 950 37,844,278 Paramount
19 The Man Who Wasn't There 664,404 39 1 17,036 683,947 USA Films
20 Life as a House 584,715 294,056 98.8 88 2 6,644 976,407 New Line
Top 5 $ 113,663,568 $ 49,548,748 129.4
Top 10 129,494,878 67,855,902 90.8
Top 20 139,315,789 80,706,392 72.6
Top 20 vs. 2000 139,315,789 99,975,283 39.4

Last Updated : November 6, 2001 at 10:00AM EST