Weekend Box Office (November 15 - 17, 2002)

THIS WEEKEND Pottermania struck once again as the much-anticipated Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets drove millions of moviegoers to the turnstiles and generated the third largest opening weekend in box office history. The Warner Bros. wizard sequel grossed an eye-popping $88.4M over three days, according to final studio figures, averaging a scorching $23,997 from 3,682 theaters. Add in multiple bookings at multiplexes and the PG-rated fantasy adventure flooded the marketplace with 8,515 total prints - a new industry record.

The team behind last year's Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone was back together for the second installment. Director Chris Columbus once again took the helm and all major cast members also returned including Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, Emma Watson, Maggie Smith, Alan Rickman, and the late Richard Harris.

Chamber's opening weekend ranks third on the all time list trailing Spider-Man ($114.8M) and the first Harry Potter ($90.3M). The opening day of Chamber brought in $29,631,453, according to Warner Bros. distribution president Dan Fellman, and was followed by a 15% uptick on Saturday to $34,213,803 and a 28% drop to $24,512,232 on Sunday. Chamber's weekend haul was only 2% less than Stone's from this weekend last year with Friday accounting for most of the deficit. Saturday and Sunday were both slightly higher than a year ago.

Critics were enchanted by the Potter sequel with many calling it better than its predecessor. Moviegoers were in agreement as ticket buyers polled by CinemaScore.com gave the film a glowing A+ grade. Stone earned an A last November. According to studio exit polls, 95% described the latest tale of Harry, Ron, and Hermione as "excellent" or "very good" and 60% of the crowd consisted of children and parents.

Overseas, Chamber cast a spell on box offices in eight countries grossing an additional $54M, according to estimates, for a global cume of $142M. In the U.K., the Hogwarts clan opened with $29M, including previews, while the German bow was $15.7M. The last Potter went on to become the second largest blockbuster in the world with $966M in global ticket sales.

Most industry watchers were not expecting Chamber of Secrets to open bigger than Sorcerer's Stone as the hype leading into last year's debut was deafening since fans had been waiting for years to see their favorite wizard appear on the big screen for the first time. Next up for the series will be Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban which will be filmed next year, according to Fellman, and released in 2004 in June or November, depending on the production schedule.

After a surprisingly potent top spot debut, Eminem's urban drama 8 Mile tumbled 62% in its second weekend and grossed a still-strong $19.3M. The Curtis Hanson-directed film attracted a large share of the rapper's loyal audience last weekend leaving a smaller fan base left this weekend. After just ten days, the $41M picture has grossed $84.4M and looks to be on its way to about $120-130M. Although 8 Mile was expected to suffer a heavy decline this weekend, Universal was hoping for a smaller drop given the film's strong reviews and favorable exit polls. By comparison, the similarly R-rated youth pic Jackass: The Movie fell just 44% in its sophomore frame earlier this month, though it didn't have the Harry Potter juggernaut to deal with.

Disney's The Santa Clause 2 dropped 39% in its third frame to $15.1M boosting the value of its bag of gifts to $82.5M. The Tim Allen film held up well considering families were flocking to the Hogwarts trio in massive numbers this weekend. Slipping to fourth place was The Ring from DreamWorks which grossed $10.7M, off 31%, putting the horror hit in the century club with $100.7M and counting.

Opening in fifth place was the prison actioner Half Past Dead with $7.8M from 2,113 theaters for a mediocre $3,701 average. Starring Morris Chestnut, Steven Seagal, and Ja Rule, the PG-13 flick received mostly negative reviews but earned a decent B grade from CinemaScore.com.

Holding steady in sixth place was My Big Fat Greek Wedding with $4.7M, off 20% from last weekend. The ethnic comedy smash has pushed its cume to a towering $199.6M and will surpass the $200M mark on Monday, its 214th day of release. Already the highest-grossing romantic comedy ever, the $5M IFC Films hit now sits at number 44 on the list of all-time domestic blockbusters just ahead of the mega-budgeted Pearl Harbor ($198.5M).

Jackass: The Movie followed in seventh with $3.9M, off 46%, raising its total to $59.4M. Sony's I Spy crumbled 57% to $3.8M giving the Eddie Murphy flop just $30.7M.

Miramax's painter portrait Frida added 200 theaters and climbed two spots to eighth with $2.9M from 519 sites for a solid $5,615 average. Cume to date is $8.7M. Buena Vista's Sweet Home Alabama slipped 41% and grossed $2.2M in its eighth weekend lifting its tally to $121.9M.

UA's smash hit documentary Bowling for Columbine eased just 19% and claimed 11th place with $1.3M. The Michael Moore film averaged an encouraging $5,094 in its sixth frame and has taken in $8.8M thus far. The Warner Bros. films Ghost Ship and Femme Fatale fell out of the top ten and have reached grosses of $28.3M and $5.7M, respectively. Neither should make much more.

In limited release activity, Artisan opened the music documentary Standing in the Shadows of Motown in eleven markets with 23 theaters and grossed $114,442. Averaging a moderate $4,975, the PG-13 film will add a dozen new markets in each of the next two frames. Paramount Classics debuted the Korean blockbuster The Way Home in just three sites and grossed $28,794 for a solid $9,598 average. Focus Features expanded its acclaimed drama Far From Heaven from six to 54 theaters and grossed $902,667 for a sparkling $16,716 average. The Julianne Moore pic widens to 250 playdates on Friday.

The top ten films grossed $158.8M which was up 6% from last year when Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone opened at number one with $90.3M; and up 11% from 2000 when How the Grinch Stole Christmas debuted in the top spot with $55.1M.

Compared to projections, Harry Potter flew into the box office a bit higher than my $80M forecast while Half Past Dead opened on target with my $8M prediction.

Take this week's NEW Reader Survey on Die Another Day vs. Harry Potter. In last week's survey, readers were asked how big the opening of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets would be. Of 4,070 responses, 45% said Under $80M, 45% correctly guessed $80-100M, and 10% picked over $100M.

For a review of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets visit The Chief Report.

Be sure to check back on Thursday for a complete summary, including projections, for next weekend when Die Another Day, Friday After Next, and The Emperor's Club all open.

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

# Title Nov 15 - 17 Nov 8 - 10 % Chg. Theaters Weeks AVG Cumulative Distributor
1 Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets $ 88,357,488 3,682 1 $ 23,997 $ 88,357,488 Warner Bros.
2 8 Mile 19,344,025 51,240,555 -62.2 2,496 2 7,750 84,440,250 Universal
3 The Santa Clause 2 15,102,078 24,734,523 -38.9 3,346 3 4,513 82,517,083 Buena Vista
4 The Ring 10,662,183 15,507,802 -31.2 2,882 5 3,700 100,684,335 DreamWorks
5 Half Past Dead 7,820,536 2,113 1 3,701 7,820,536 Sony
6 My Big Fat Greek Wedding 4,713,464 5,854,005 -19.5 1,812 31 2,601 199,574,370 IFC Films
7 Jackass: The Movie 3,875,319 7,106,194 -45.5 2,413 4 1,606 59,350,870 Paramount
8 I Spy 3,806,001 8,809,800 -56.8 2,611 3 1,458 30,734,169 Sony
9 Frida 2,914,103 2,754,118 5.8 519 4 5,615 8,661,275 Miramax
10 Sweet Home Alabama 2,233,774 3,810,839 -41.4 1,469 8 1,521 121,886,286 Buena Vista
11 Bowling for Columbine 1,263,380 1,559,426 -19.0 248 6 5,094 8,798,505 MGM/UA
12 Femme Fatale 1,248,414 2,776,248 -55.0 1,066 2 1,171 5,688,420 Warner Bros.
13 Punch-Drunk Love 1,210,367 2,501,670 -51.6 867 6 1,396 16,500,392 Sony
14 Ghost Ship 1,117,492 3,157,407 -64.6 1,175 4 951 28,250,829 Warner Bros.
15 Star Wars Episode II: IMAX 909,917 1,389,848 -34.5 58 3 15,688 307,022,303 Fox
16 Far From Heaven 902,667 211,279 327.2 54 2 16,716 1,253,231 Focus
17 Real Women Have Curves 520,378 526,357 -1.1 147 5 3,540 2,608,530 Newmarket
18 Red Dragon 507,835 1,562,320 -67.5 552 7 920 92,472,055 Universal
19 Barbershop 502,008 1,057,007 -52.5 725 10 692 74,793,128 MGM/UA
20 Jonah: A VeggieTales Movie 475,298 1,062,891 -55.3 718 7 662 24,100,098 Artisan
Top 5 $ 141,286,310 $ 107,398,874 31.6
Top 10 158,828,971 125,751,491 26.3
Top 20 167,486,727 138,245,914 21.2
Top 20 vs. 2001 167,486,727 157,223,927 6.5

Last Updated : November 18, 2002 at 6:30PM EST