Weekend Box Office (November 14 - 16, 1997)

The JackalTHIS WEEKEND The Jackal raced past the competition and easily took the number one spot with a $15.2M debut. Despite mixed-to-negative reviews, the starpower of Bruce Willis and Richard Gere was enough to make it the most popular movie for the frame and was Universal's biggest November opening since Back to the Future II which debuted to $27.8M in 1989. Jackal averaged $6,915 in 2,193 locations for the best per-theater average in the top ten. While the $15.2M performance stands as the best opening for Richard Gere this decade, and probably ever, it is not exactly one of the best for Willis. His last film The Fifth Element opened to $17M in May and eventually grossed $63.5M domestically. The Jackal should be able to perform well over the next few weeks being the only non-science-fiction action film around. Overseas, it should do exceptionally well as it will ride the coattails of Element which has been a huge international blockbuster with over $250M in worldwide ticket sales thus far.

The Little MermaidPlummeting 55% to second place was last weekend's top film Starship Troopers with $10M. The huge loss showed that the film has exhausted most of its core audience and is not benefiting from repeat business. The drop is extremely high even for a science fiction picture. Budgeted at over $100M, Troopers looks to finish its domestic run at around $65-70M and will have to rely on a powerful overseas release to break even.

Swimming into third place was Disney's reissue of the 1989 animated hit The Little Mermaid with $9.8M. Averaging $4,778 in 2,054 playdates, Mermaid posted one of the better results for recent Disney reissues by nearing the $10.3M opening of 1991's 101 Dalmatians reissue which went on to gross $60.8M. Mermaid, however, will only be in theaters until November 30th which should allow it to suffer only modest declines over the next two weekends as it tries to distract moviegoers' attention from the launch of Fox's rival animated film Anastasia. Mermaid originally opened this weekend in 1989 and grossed $6M on 994 screens on its way to a final tally of $83.7M. For reviews of The Little Mermaid and The Jackal visit Chief's Movie Review Page.

Speaking with Phil Barlow, President of Distribution for Disney, he stated that "this was an awfully successful launch of a reissue." He also said that the weekend performance greatly exceeded expectations which were hovering at around $6M. Barlow expects Mermaid to take a hit this coming weekend as "another animated film" opens and then come back strong in its final days of release over Thanksgiving weekend.

Off 38% from last weekend's U.S. opening, Bean took fourth place with an $8M take. With $32M in total sales to date, Bean should be able to clear the $50M mark domestically and has already reached $175M worldwide. More hard times hit Warner Bros. as their Bill Murray comedy The Man Who Knew Too Little opened in fifth place with just $4.6M. Stumbling into 2,036 theaters, it averaged $2,262 per site. Murray continues to struggle with ticket buyers as his last few films have also failed to catch fire at the box office - Larger Than Life ($8.3M total gross), Kingpin ($25M), Mad Dog & Glory ($10.7M). His last hit film was 1993's Groundhog Day which grossed $70.8M. Man will probably reach $10-12M before heading to a more successful life on video.

Elsewhere in the top ten Eve's Bayou displayed the smallest decline in the top ten, edging by just 23%, while the largest drop was by Troopers. Mad City, starring John Travolta and Dustin Hoffman, dropped 53% to eleventh place in its second frame with $2.2M. Opening in 407 theaters with $979,000 was the Wesley Snipes drama One Night Stand with a so-so average of $2,405. Playing to packed crowds at the Ziegfeld Theater in midtown Manhattan, Anastasia collected $121,000 over the Friday-to-Sunday period for a potent start to its domestic run. Fox Searchlight continued to slowly roll out Ang Lee's The Ice Storm as it expanded from 67 to 154 sites and collected $786,000. The Sigourney Weaver-Kevin Kline picture averaged a still solid $5,103 per theater. Also expanding was Miramax's Wings of the Dove moving from 7 to 77 locations and grossing $781,000 for a steamy $10,145 average.

Overall, my projections were fairly close to the box office performances over the weekend. The Jackal's $15.2M was less than, but close to, my $17M forecast. Mermaid's $9.8M showing was somewhat less than my $11M prediction. The Man Who Knew Too Little fared a little better than my $4M projection. Starship Troopers and Bean depreciated by more than my forecasts of 35% and 30% respectively.

So far the month of November has not been able to keep up with the record-setting pace of November 1996. Last year featured a non-stop barrage of big movies, big stars, and big openings. Each weekend offered a blockbuster $25M+ opening starting with Ransom's $34.2M debut followed by Space Jam ($27.5M), Star Trek : First Contact ($30.7M), and 101 Dalmatians ($33.5M). At the current pace, November 1997 should end up well below last year's level.

Overall, the top ten films grossed $62.9M which was down 7% from last year and down 9% from 1995. Be sure to check in on Thursday for a complete summary, including predictions, for the upcoming crowded weekend which includes the openings of Anastasia, Mortal Kombat : Annihilation, Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, and The Rainmaker.

For a seasonal wrapup, be sure to check out The Top 20 Films of the Fall 1997 Box Office.

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

# Title Nov 14 - 16 Nov 7 - 9 % Chg. Weeks Cumulative Dist.
1 The Jackal $ 15,164,595 1 $ 15,164,595 Univ.
2 Starship Troopers 10,034,337 22,058,773 -54.5 2 39,193,193 Sony
3 The Little Mermaid (reissue) 9,814,520 1 9,814,520 BV
4 Bean 7,938,313 12,733,827 -37.7 5 31,803,014 Gram.
5 The Man Who Knew Too Little 4,604,819 1 4,604,819 WB
6 I Know What You Did Last Summer 4,062,163 6,511,020 -37.6 5 60,379,357 Sony
7 Devil's Advocate 3,502,688 5,078,692 -31.0 5 50,524,294 WB
8 Red Corner 2,619,291 4,905,133 -46.6 3 19,195,587 MGM
9 Boogie Nights 2,577,634 3,940,924 -34.6 5 18,575,435 NL
10 Eve's Bayou 2,538,199 3,287,846 -22.8 2 6,925,575 Trmk
Top 5 $ 47,556,584 $ 51,287,445 -7.3
Top 10 62,856,559 67,822,130 -7.3

    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. Opinions expressed in this column are those solely of the author.

    Last Updated : November 18, 1997 at 11:10AM ESTHome