Weekend Box Office (November 7 - 9, 1997)

THIS WEEKEND Giant insects invaded the box office over the weekend as the science-fiction action hit Starship Troopers arrived at number one with a solid $22.1M gross. The Sony movie landed in 2,971 theaters and boasted an average of $7,425 per location. For the year, it ranks as the ninth largest opening weekend and for Sony, Troopers ranks third trailing only Men in Black ($51.1M) and Air Force One ($37.1M). Troopers is a film about young warriors defending Earth and human civilization from the threat of an alien insect species. Director Paul Verhoeven chose to invest more of the reported $100M+ budget into special effects rather than starpower as Troopers features no big names on-screen. Opening weekends for Verhoeven's last three pictures include $8.1M for Showgirls, $15.1M for Basic Instinct, and $25.5M for Total Recall.

"Young males and sci-fi fans drove this picture" said Jeff Blake, Sony's head of distribution, on the performance of Troopers over the weekend. He also noted that the debut total was the third-largest in TriStar history behind 1991's Terminator 2 ($31.8M opening) and 1990's Total Recall. Disney co-financed Troopers and will share in revenue in both domestic and international markets. This is uncommon as most studios that jointly finance expensive films agree on one studio handling domestic distribution while the other handles overseas markets. Some recent films with domestic/overseas splits include Face/Off (Paramount/Disney), Air Force One (Sony/Disney), and Titanic (Paramount/Fox).

BeanStumbling into second place with a loud thud was Bean, the British comedy released by Gramercy, which collected an impressive $12.7M over the weekend. The Rowan Atkinson comedy has already been playing in Canada for three weeks and around the world for months bringing a worldwide gross of $135M into its U.S. debut. Bean easily posted the biggest debut in Gramercy's history beating the previous record of $6M by Candyman : Farewell to the Flesh in 1995. With a running-time of just 90 minutes and little in the way of comedy competition, Bean hit the bullseye with moviegoers and launched what could be a fantastic domestic run.

Playing in 1,948 theaters, Bean averaged $6,537 per site. It was certainly a gamble to unleash this nearly-mute comic character to an unfamiliar American audience but it paid off hansomely. With a lucrative U.S. run ahead, Bean should have no problem crossing the $200M barrier in global ticket sales. For reviews of Starship Troopers and Bean, visit Chief's Movie Review Page.

It has been a year of disappointments for Warner Brothers and the strikeouts continued over the weekend. John Travolta proved that he is not bulletproof as the Warner hostage-drama Mad City, also starring Oscar-winner Dustin Hoffman, crumbled with a horrible opening of $4.6M. Given the starpower of the two actors, the performance was a disaster for all involved. Travolta has had six hit movies over the last three years resulting in a combined domestic gross of over $562M. Mad City showed that audiences will not accept him in just anything and that he is not immune to failure. However, because of his recent track record, this poor showing should have little impact on his career and his films in 1998 (Primary Colors and A Civil Action) still have great chances for success. Apparently, the storyline in Mad City just wasn't interesting enough to attract a large audience.

Holdovers filled up the rest of the top five. After three weeks at number one, the slasher picture I Know What You Did Last Summer lost 31% and placed third with $6.5M. It has grossed $54.2M thus far. Devil's Advocate edged off 31% as well for fourth place with a $5.1M tally and Red Corner slipped 34% for fifth with $4.9M. Corner, which saw the largest drop in the top ten, looks on track for a final gross of about $22-25M. The smallest drop in the top ten was 16% by Boogie Nights. The other new release, Eve's Bayou starring Samuel L. Jackson, grossed just $3.3M and placed eighth with a good $4,989 average. In limited release, The Wings of the Dove, starring Helena Bonham Carter, grossed $184,000 in seven locations for $26,230 per site.

Leaving the party atmosphere of the top ten were In & Out ($60.8M to date) after seven weeks and Seven Years in Tibet ($34.1M to date) after four. Disney began its four-phase attack on the family audience by adding over 550 screens to the run of George of the Jungle allowing it to re-enter the top twenty and up its cume to $103M. On the agenda for the rest of the month are a reissue of The Little Mermaid, the rerelease of Hercules, and the new Robin Williams comedy Flubber.

The $22.1M opening of Starship Troopers was powerful, as expected, and came close to my projection of about $25M. Bean performed better than my prediction of around $8M while Mad City was a big surprise as it was nowhere near my forecast of $15M. Travolta's name did not sell as many tickets as I thought it would have. City will probably see a final gross of around $15M. Last Summer dropped by 31% which came close to my predicted 30% while Red Corner's 34% dip was a little better than my forecasted 40% decline.

Overall, the top ten films grossed $67.8M which was even with last year and down 2% from 1995. Be sure to check in on Thursday for a summary, including projections, for next weekend which will include the new releases The Jackal and The Little Mermaid. On Friday check in for the Fall 1997 wrapup which will include predicted final grosses.

Below are final studio figures for the weekend. Click on the title to jump to its official home page:

# Title Nov 7 - 9 Oct 31 - Nov 2 % Chg. Weeks Cumulative
1 Starship Troopers $ 22,058,773 1 $ 22,058,773
2 Bean 12,733,827 1,049,568 1113.2 4 19,742,986
3 I Know What You Did Last Summer 6,511,020 9,406,297 -30.8 4 54,211,282
4 Devil's Advocate 5,078,692 7,368,348 -31.1 4 44,981,007
5 Red Corner 4,905,133 7,403,362 -33.7 2 14,742,758
6 Mad City 4,649,742 1 4,649,742
7 Boogie Nights 3,940,924 4,681,934 -15.8 4 14,550,063
8 Eve's Bayou 3,287,846 1 3,287,846
9 Kiss the Girls 2,516,381 3,511,531 -28.3 6 55,012,316
10 Fairy Tale: A True Story 2,139,792 2,902,338 -26.3 3 9,972,529
Top 5 $ 51,287,445 $ 32,371,472 58.4
Top 10 67,822,130 45,571,178 48.8

    This column is updated three times each week : Thursday (upcoming weekend's summary), Sunday (post-weekend analysis with estimates), and Monday night (actuals). Source : Variety, EDI.

    Last Updated : November 10, 1997 at 11:45PM ESTHome