Weekend Box Office (November 17 - 19, 2000)

THIS WEEKEND Four new films powered their way into the top five led by a record-breaking debut by How The Grinch Stole Christmas. The abundance of commercially appealing movies sent the box office soaring to its largest non-holiday gross ever as the top four pictures alone collected over $100M. With theatrical activity booming, and the lucrative Thanksgiving holiday frame just days away, year-to-date ticket sales could move into December ahead of 1999's record pace.

Funnyman Jim Carrey celebrated the holidays early with a mammoth $55.1M opening for the feature adaptation of the Dr. Seuss classic How The Grinch Stole Christmas, according to final studio figures. Attacking 3,127 theaters, The Grinch averaged a scorching $17,615 per location. The Universal release claimed the fifth-biggest opening weekend in history following The Lost World ($72.1M), Star Wars Episode I ($64.8M), Mission: Impossible 2 ($57.8M), and Toy Story 2 ($57.4M). Directed by Ron Howard, and produced by Imagine Entertainment, the wacky tale features elaborate sets, costumes, make-up, and special effects which help explain the hefty $117M pricetag.

Backed by an expensive marketing campaign, The Grinch successfully reached all demographic groups, according to a Universal spokesperson, as fans disregarded mixed reviews and went for the sheer entertainment value. The distributor reported a $15.75M opening day gross on Friday followed by a phenomenal $22.7M in sales on Saturday, for an encouraging 44% increase, and a $16.6M tally on Sunday. Rated PG, The Grinch gave Carrey the best debut of his career which has been somewhat shaky in recent years. Ten of the comedian's last eleven films have opened at number one with last winter's Man on the Moon being the notable exception.

Ron Howard also reached a career-best as The Grinch surpassed the $34.2M opening of 1996's hit thriller Ransom. Universal has now seen its last five releases all open on top. With the busy Thanksgiving holiday right around the corner, and Christmas still to come, The Grinch should linger around theaters for several weeks to come and collect a rich bounty in the process.

Despite the intense competition for family audiences that The Grinch created, Paramount's The Rugrats in Paris : The Movie premiered with strength in second with $22.7M. The animated sequel bowed in 2,934 theaters and averaged $7,743 per venue. The 1998 original debuted this very weekend as well and grossed $27.3M on its way to $100.5M. Based on the popular Nickelodeon television series, the Rugrats sequel was produced for $30M and looks well on its way to becoming yet another profitable animated feature for Paramount. The studio reported a $6M gross on Friday, $10M on Saturday (up 67%), and $6.7M take for Sunday.

After a two-week stint atop the box office world, the independent women of Charlie's Angels stepped back to third place declining a moderate 46% to $13.4M. With $93.3M in 17 days, the Sony release is still aiming for a final domestic gross of $140-150M. A number one opening greeted Angels in Mexico this weekend and 27 more international debuts are scheduled for next weekend. Meanwhile in the United States, Charlie's Angels still holds the top spot on Billboard's soundtrack album sales charts helping to make the PG-13 film a true multimedia hit. Columbia Pictures has already begun developing a script for a sequel and hopes that Cameron Diaz, Drew Barrymore, and Lucy Liu will reprise their action heroine roles.

Arnold Schwarzenegger witnessed his weakest action opening in over a decade with the sci-fi thriller The 6th Day which arrived in a crowded marketplace with $13M. Sony launched the effects-heavy cloning picture in 2,516 theaters and averaged a moderate $5,175. Adult males made up the largest portion of the crowd for the $82M production. Jeff Blake, president of worldwide marketing and distribution, noted that Schwarzenegger movies usually double their domestic tallies overseas and that the film invades major markets like Japan and Germany in mid-December. Typically, Arnold's action vehicles open north of $20M while his comedies debut with less than $15M. The 6th Day debuted on Friday with $4.3M and rose 24% to $5.35M on Saturday, according to Sony.

Registering a solid debut in fifth place was Miramax's romantic comedy Bounce with $11.4M. Starring Ben Affleck and Gwenyth Paltrow, the film played in the fewest theaters of any movie in the top ten with 1,918 locations but delivered a strong $5,956 average. The opening for Bounce came as good news for both stars. Paltrow's last release Duets tanked with a $2M opening in September while Affleck's spring films Reindeer Games and Boiler Room debuted with only $8.1M and $5.7M respectively. Not surprisingly, Bounce performed best with adult women.

Dropping a reasonable 41% to sixth place was the military drama Men of Honor, starring Robert De Niro and Cuba Gooding Jr., with $7.9M pushing its ten-day cume to $24.9M. Produced for $38M, the Fox release looks to end up in the neighborhood of $50M.

Adam Sandler's devilish comedy Little Nicky fell a disturbing 52% from its disappointing opening weekend and collected $7.8M. With a reported budget of $70-80M, the New Line film has grossed just $26.5M in ten days and should finish with $40-45M.

Meet the Parents continued to perform well sliding 38% to $6.4M boosting its blockbuster cume to $138.5M. The Warner Bros. sci-fi release Red Planet crashed in its second voyage dropping 68% to a $2.8M weekend take. The $80M space flick has collected a mere $13.5M in ten days and should vanish quickly with a final gross of $15-20M. Tenth place went to the golf drama The Legend of Bagger Vance which tumbled 55% to $2.8M for a $25.2M total to date.

In limited release, Lions Gate premiered the Trimark picture What's Cooking? in 40 theaters in 15 major markets and took in $144,586. Averaging $3,615, the Thanksgiving tale stars Joan Chen, Alfre Woodard, and Julianna Margulies and opened the Sundance Film Festival last January.

Paramount Classics expanded its critical hit You Can Count On Me from 8 to 35 theaters and watched sales increase to $301,478. With $462,176 in ten days, the potential Oscar contender averaged an impressive $8,614 per site.

Four movies fell out of the top ten over the weekend. After a glorious seven-week season, Denzel Washington's football drama Remember the Titans dropped to $2.3M and a $107.1M cume. With a production cost of $27M, the Buena Vista release should conclude with $110-115M.

Britain's Billy Elliot has reached $8.4M to date domestically and looks to grow to $14-16M giving it a successful Stateside run and a winning first release for Universal Focus. Pay It Forward, starring Kevin Spacey, Helen Hunt, and Haley Joel Osment, has collected $31.1M thus far and should end with roughly $33M. The Fox comedy Bedazzled has taken in $35.9M and is set to finish with under $38M.

The top ten films grossed a staggering $143.3M over the weekend which was up 41% from last year when The World Is Not Enough debuted in the top spot with $35.5M; and up 59% from 1998 when The Rugrats Movie opened at number one with $27.3M.

Compared to projections, How The Grinch Stole Christmas soared much higher than my $28M forecast. Rugrats in Paris and Bounce both debuted close to my predictions of $20M and $9M, respectively. The 6th Day arrived a few notches below my $18M projection.

Take this week's NEW Reader Survey on which December film you most want to see. In last week's survey, readers were asked how The 6th Day would perform compared to last year's End of Days which grossed $67M domestically. Of 3,526 responses, 64% said Better while 36% chose Worse.

Read the Weekly Rewind column which looks at Thanksgiving weekend 1995. For a review of How The Grinch Stole Christmas visit The Chief Report.

Be sure to check back on Wednesday for a complete summary, including projections, for next weekend when Unbreakable and 102 Dalmatians both debut.

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

# Title Nov. 17 - 19 Nov. 10 - 12 % Chg. Theaters Weeks AVG Cumulative Dist.
1 How The Grinch Stole Christmas $ 55,082,330 3,127 1 $ 17,615 $ 55,082,330 Universal
2 Rugrats in Paris 22,718,184 2,934 1 7,743 22,718,184 Paramount
3 Charlie's Angels 13,361,646 24,606,860 -45.7 3,037 3 4,400 93,258,819 Sony
4 The 6th Day 13,020,883 2,516 1 5,175 13,020,883 Sony
5 Bounce 11,423,716 1,918 1 5,956 11,423,716 Miramax
6 Men of Honor 7,906,419 13,339,465 -40.7 2,118 2 3,733 24,918,784 Fox
7 Little Nicky 7,753,107 16,063,904 -51.7 2,910 2 2,664 26,506,194 New Line
8 Meet the Parents 6,367,685 10,342,995 -38.4 2,412 7 2,640 138,513,485 Universal
9 Red Planet 2,818,384 8,721,296 -67.7 2,703 2 1,043 13,516,530 Warner Bros.
10 The Legend of Bagger Vance 2,817,983 6,315,993 -55.4 2,109 3 1,336 25,220,736 DreamWorks
11 Remember the Titans 2,347,742 5,182,414 -54.7 1,659 8 1,415 107,099,672 Buena Vista
12 Billy Elliot 1,774,290 2,603,380 -31.8 497 6 3,570 8,403,080 Uni. Focus
13 Pay it Forward 1,075,509 3,025,447 -64.5 1,415 5 760 31,146,175 Warner Bros.
14 Best in Show 745,822 1,232,772 -39.5 408 8 1,828 13,970,190 Warner Bros.
15 Bedazzled 700,489 2,510,770 -72.1 931 5 752 35,943,868 Fox
16 Blair Witch 2 360,614 1,936,038 -81.4 642 4 562 25,933,572 Artisan
17 You Can Count On Me 301,478 118,170 155.1 35 2 8,614 462,176 Par. Classics
18 Lucky Numbers 248,719 723,802 -65.6 1,050 4 237 9,534,013 Paramount
19 What Lies Beneath 245,488 63,304 287.8 400 18 614 154,441,745 DreamWorks
20 Requiem for a Dream 224,188 242,014 -7.4 46 7 4,874 1,338,894 Artisan
Top 5 $ 115,606,759 $ 73,074,520 58.2
Top 10 143,270,337 92,712,524 54.5
Top 20 151,294,676 101,318,635 49.3
Top 20 vs. 1999 151,294,676 112,379,655 34.6

Last Updated : November 20 at 8:30PM EST

Written by Gitesh Pandya