Weekend Box Office (November 8 - 10, 2002)

THIS WEEKEND Moviegoers lined up by the millions to see multi-platinum rapper Eminem make his feature film debut in Universal's urban drama 8 Mile which generated a monstrous $51.2M opening, according to final studio figures, surpassing all industry expectations and topping a robust box office frame. Though large, the final gross was over $3M less than originally estimated. Directed by Curtis Hanson (L.A. Confidential), the R-rated film bowed in only 2,470 theaters and averaged a colossal $20,745 per venue. The opening performance was especially powerful considering its restrictive rating and its theater count which was relatively low by event film standards. In the end, 8 Mile delivered the second largest opening ever for an R pic behind MGM's Hannibal which bowed to $58M from a wider 3,230 theaters in February of last year.

With a story based on Eminem's real life experiences, 8 Mile follows a pivotal week in the life of a poor white kid from Detroit who uses rapping as a means to escape his troubles. Fans of the controversial artist, mostly teens and young adults, made up a built-in audience for the film by running to their local multiplex the minute the highly-anticipated picture was available. The huge numbers, however, indicate that the picture may have caught the eyes of non-fans who were sold on the positive reviews and were curious to see what the headline-grabbing MC was all about.

8 Mile exploded on Friday with $19.76M in ticket sales, slipped 4% to $18.9M on Saturday, and dropped 33% to $12.6M on Sunday. The Eminem film posted the fourth best opening in the history of Universal after The Lost World ($72.1M), The Mummy Returns ($68.1M), and How the Grinch Stole Christmas ($55.1M). It also registered the fifth largest November bow trailing Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone ($90.3M), Monsters Inc. ($62.6M), Toy Story 2 ($57.4M), and Grinch. All those movies blasted off in over 3,000 theaters while 8 Mile opened in under 2,500 locations. 8 Mile also scored the third best opening average this year for a wide release after the megablockbusters Spider-Man ($31,769) and Star Wars Episode II ($25,317).

Produced for $41M, 8 Mile is well on its way to becoming yet another moneymaker for Eminem. In three short years, the real Slim Shady has conquered the music industry scoring number-one albums, breaking sales records, winning Grammys, and selling millions of records in the process. In fact, the 8 Mile soundtrack is currently the number one album in the country and the lead single "Lose Yourself" is atop the singles charts.

According to exit polls from Universal, the audience was understandably young and ethnically diverse, but surprisingly more female. Those under 25 accounted for 59% of the audience and almost half the crowd was black or latino. Females made up 53% of the audience. Fans were pleased with 8 Mile as the film earned a B+ grade from CinemaScore.com with the core under-21 segment giving it an A.

The $51M weekend figure may not even give an accurate reading on the exact audience size. Many underage fans not able to get into the R-rated picture may have purchased tickets to films with less restrictive ratings and snuck into the 8 Mile auditoriums. Scanning the rest of the top ten, movies with G, PG, and PG-13 ratings displayed remarkably low declines across the board while R pics all had the worst drops.

Last weekend's number one film, The Santa Clause 2, was knocked back to second place, but remained extremely jolly sliding just 15% to $24.7M. Disney's family comedy has grabbed $60M in only ten days but faces stiff competition for kids from next weekend's Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets as well as Disney's own Treasure Planet which launches over Thanksgiving weekend. Still, Clause 2 looks well on its way to a gross of around $130-150M.

Still displaying great legs in its fourth weekend was the suspense smash The Ring which scared up $15.5M for a decline of just 14%. The DreamWorks hit has grossed $85.6M thus far and should cross the $100M mark next weekend.

Eddie Murphy's I Spy dipped 31% to $8.8M in its second weekend raising the ten-day cume of the $70M film to $24.5M. Former top dog Jackass: The Movie dropped 44% to $7.1M in its third weekend pushing its 17-day total to $53.2M.

In its 30th weekend, My Big Fat Greek Wedding witnessed another uptick inching up 4% to $5.9M. With $192.9M in the bank, the IFC Films smash now sits at number 46 on the list of all-time domestic blockbusters after 1989's Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade ($197.2M). Of course, ticket prices were much lower thirteen years ago. Look for Greek Wedding to sprint past the $200M mark in another week.

Slipping 17% to seventh place was Buena Vista's Sweet Home Alabama with $3.8M weekend and $118.5M cume. Horror entry Ghost Ship tumbled 53% to $3.2M giving the Warner Bros. suspenser $26.2M after 17 days.

The studio also launched the erotic thriller Femme Fatale over the weekend which flopped with $2.78M from 1,066 locations. The Antonio Banderas-Rebecca Romijn-Stamos pic averaged just $2,604 and collected $3.4M since its Wednesday opening.

Rounding out the top ten was Salma Hayek's Frida which expanded from 47 to 319 theaters and saw its weekend gross climb to $2.75M. The Miramax release averaged a fiesty $8,634 and upped its sum to $4.5M.

Another limited-release winner flirting with the top ten was UA's Bowling for Columbine which widened from 162 to 222 playdates and grossed $1.6M. Michael Moore's documentary on America's gun culture averaged a strong $7,024 and lifted its cume to an impressive $6.8M. Next weekend, Columbine will surpass 1994's Hoop Dreams to become the highest-grossing doc ever.

Generating big numbers in a limited bow in New York and Los Angeles was the Focus Features drama Far From Heaven which commanded $211,279 from just six sites. The Julianne Moore film averaged a stellar $35,213 and adds more markets this Friday before a much wider expansion on Nov 22 into roughly 250 theaters.

A trio of films fell out of the top ten. Universal's Hannibal Lecter prequel Red Dragon took in $1.6M in its sixth frame, off 43%, hitting $91.5M overall. The $78M production should conclude with about $95M domestically. Fox Searchlight's Brown Sugar dropped 38% to $1M for a cume of $26M. Budgeted at under $10M, the romantic comedy looks to finish with around $28M. The Adam Sandler film Punch-Drunk Love fell 38% to $2.5M giving the Sony release $14.5M to date.

The top ten films grossed $125.8M which was up 12% from last year when Monsters Inc. remained at number one with $45.6M; and up 37% from 2000 when Charlie's Angels stayed in the top spot with $24.6M.

Compared to projections, 8 Mile blasted past my $25M forecast while Femme Fatale debuted on target with my $3M prediction.

Take this week's NEW Reader Survey on the opening of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. In last week's survey, readers were asked which of Leonardo Dicaprio's two new December releases would gross more domestically. Of 1,677 responses, 71% picked Catch Me If You Can while 29% selected Gangs of New York.

For a review of 8 Mile visit The Chief Report.

Be sure to check back on Thursday for a complete summary, including projections, for next weekend when Harry Potter and Half Past Dead both open.

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

# Title Nov 8 - 10 Nov 1 - 3 % Chg. Theaters Weeks AVG Cumulative Distributor
1 8 Mile $ 51,240,555 2,470 1 $ 20,745 $ 51,240,555 Universal
2 The Santa Clause 2 24,734,523 29,008,696 -14.7 3,352 2 7,379 60,038,513 Buena Vista
3 The Ring 15,507,802 18,117,187 -14.4 2,927 4 5,298 85,601,983 DreamWorks
4 I Spy 8,809,800 12,752,803 -30.9 3,182 2 2,769 24,487,959 Sony
5 Jackass: The Movie 7,106,194 12,729,732 -44.2 2,532 3 2,807 53,225,646 Paramount
6 My Big Fat Greek Wedding 5,854,005 5,623,149 4.1 1,975 30 2,964 192,857,165 IFC Films
7 Sweet Home Alabama 3,810,839 4,598,229 -17.1 2,004 7 1,902 118,548,539 Buena Vista
8 Ghost Ship 3,157,407 6,654,469 -52.6 2,361 3 1,337 26,171,019 Warner Bros.
9 Femme Fatale 2,776,248 1,066 1 2,604 3,430,876 Warner Bros.
10 Frida 2,754,118 1,000,862 175.2 319 3 8,634 4,506,816 Miramax
11 Punch-Drunk Love 2,501,670 4,003,535 -37.5 1,293 5 1,935 14,513,079 Sony
12 Red Dragon 1,562,320 2,728,595 -42.7 1,324 6 1,180 91,467,655 Universal
13 Bowling for Columbine 1,559,426 1,541,193 1.2 222 5 7,024 6,783,493 MGM/UA
14 Star Wars Episode II: IMAX 1,389,848 1,441,922 -3.6 58 2 23,963 305,564,854 Fox
15 Tuck Everlasting 1,086,229 1,475,385 -26.4 1,090 5 997 17,634,258 Buena Vista
16 Jonah: A VeggieTales Movie 1,062,891 1,493,324 -28.8 1,497 6 710 23,132,407 Artisan
17 Barbershop 1,057,007 1,159,026 -8.8 984 9 1,074 74,042,184 MGM/UA
18 Brown Sugar 1,037,627 1,672,437 -38.0 649 5 1,599 26,003,024 Fox Searchlight
19 The Tuxedo 649,104 1,150,739 -43.6 755 7 860 49,152,944 DreamWorks
20 The Transporter 588,301 1,289,040 -54.4 569 5 1,034 24,553,455 Fox
Top 5 $ 107,398,874 $ 79,262,887 35.5
Top 10 125,751,491 97,888,832 28.5
Top 20 138,245,914 110,574,196 25.0
Top 20 vs. 2001 138,245,914 122,376,869 13.0

Last Updated : November 11, 2002 at 7:00PM EST