Weekend Box Office (November 24 - 26, 2000)

THIS WEEKEND The blockbuster holiday hit Dr. Seuss' How The Grinch Stole Christmas remained the most popular movie in North America over a record-breaking Thanksgiving session and led the box office to its biggest weekend in history. Over the five-day Wednesday-to-Sunday period, moviegoers spent nearly a quarter of a billion dollars on tickets giving theater owners a badly needed windfall. Disney opened a pair of films and took second and third place, respectively, with the thriller Unbreakable and the family comedy 102 Dalmatians.

Jim Carrey held a firm grip on the number one spot with The Grinch which displayed remarkable legs slipping a scant 5% from its monster debut to collect $52.1M over the three-day span, according to final studio figures. Across the entire five-day holiday period, the Ron Howard-directed film grossed a staggering $73.5M and watched its total soar to $137.1M in only ten days. Playing in 3,134 theaters, The Grinch averaged a sizzling $16,630 over three days. Universal was ecstatic over the amazing staying power of the big-budget holiday smash while rival distributors were impressed as well with one insider stating that "everyone in the business underestimated the power of this film."

The Grinch stormed through the $100M barrier in only eight days matching Mission: Impossible 2's speed from earlier this year. With the holiday season just getting underway, the Jim Carrey behemoth should easily pass the $200M mark and could surpass the Tom Cruise spy flick's $215.4M to become the year's highest-grossing film. Universal has joined forces with a handful of promotional partners like Toys R Us, Visa, and Kelloggs to boost consumer awareness and hopes that repeat business will keep the PG-rated film stealing dollars through Christmas and New Year's.

Delivering a strong second place opening, the suspense thriller Unbreakable, starring Bruce Willis and Samuel L. Jackson, grossed $30.3M over the weekend and $46M over the five-day holiday period. Written and directed by The Sixth Sense's M. Night Shyamalan, the Buena Vista title launched in 2,708 theaters and averaged a fantastic $11,200 per location over the three days. Unbreakable scored the second-best Thanksgiving opening in box office history after Toy Story 2's $80.1M five-day haul from last year. The PG-13 picture finds Willis as a seemingly superhuman man and Jackson as the one who can unlock the secret to his mysterious abilities.

With three huge family films fighting over young ones, Unbreakable was strategically positioned by Buena Vista to attract mature audiences looking for a serious picture over the holiday weekend. Last year's The Sixth Sense opened in August 1999 with $26.7M from 2,161 theaters for a $12,347 average. The popular ghost story became a runaway hit taking in a mammoth $293.5 million domestically and over $660 million worldwide making it one of the ten highest-grossing movies in history. With no new competitors next weekend, Unbreakable should remain in the runnerup spot for another week and cross the $100M mark by mid-December.

Entering a crowded family marketplace, Disney's live-action sequel 102 Dalmatians debuted with $19.9M over the Friday-to-Sunday session and $26.2M over the long five-day period. The Glenn Close film bowed in 2,704 locations and averaged a solid $7,353 over three days. Though a strong third-place debut, 102 Dalmatians opened 42% below the $45.1M Thanksgiving launch of 1996's 101 Dalmatians. With families having the choice of seeing The Grinch and Rugrats as well, the intense competition seemed to diminish the audience size for the puppy picture.

After this weekend's landmark performance, a true contest is shaping up between Buena Vista and Universal for this year's market share crown. Buena Vista has led the industry for most of the year, but with the runaway success of The Grinch and Meet the Parents, Universal has become a serious contender for the top spot. Still in its arsenal for the year, Disney has the animated film The Emperor's New Groove while Universal has the Christmas release The Family Man starring Nicolas Cage.

Another children's movie, Paramount's Rugrats in Paris, followed in fourth with $17.4M in three days and $22.5M over the five-day frame. The animated sequel declined a reasonable 23% from its debut and pushed its total to $47.6M in ten days. That puts the G-rated film 17% behind the pace of 1998's The Rugrats Movie which also opened on the weekend before Thanksgiving and collected $57.9M in ten days on its way to $100.5M. Produced for $30M, Rugrats in Paris could find its way to $80-85M.

Cameron Diaz, Drew Barrymore, and Lucy Liu found their heroic selves in fifth place with the action-adventure film Charlie's Angels which took in $10.2M in three days and $13.5M over five days. Off 24%, the Sony hit watched its cume rise to $108.7M becoming the year's 17th release to top nine digits at the domestic box office. Around the world, Angels invaded 27 territories with explosive results including number one debuts in countries like Australia, Italy, France, South Korea, and the United Kingdom, according to a studio spokesman.

Miramax's romantic comedy Bounce dropped 32% in its second weekend collecting $7.8M over three days. With a reported production cost of $35M, the Ben Affleck-Gwenyth Paltrow film has grossed $24.2M in ten days and should find its way to $40-45M.

Arnold Schwarzenegger's sci-fi action movie The 6th Day fell apart in its second weekend taking in $7.5M during the three-day period and $10M over five days. Off 42%, the $82M Sony title raised its ten-day cume to $25M and seems headed for a domestic final of around $40M. Hopes of profitability lie in overseas box office and worldwide video sales where Schwarzenegger still delivers.

Robert De Niro locked up the eighth and ninth positions with the military drama Men of Honor and the blockbuster comedy Meet the Parents, respectively, which both held up very well. Honor, the top ten's only R-rated picture, grossed $6.8M and $9.1M over the long holiday frame slipping just 13%. Parents edged up 2% to $6.5M over three days and $8.8M over five days. Cumulative totals now stand at $35.4M for Men of Honor and $148.4M for Meet the Parents.

Rounding out the top ten was Adam Sandler's Little Nicky with $4.7M over three days. Down 40%, New Line's effects-enhanced comedy is disappearing fast with only a $33.8M tally to date.

Premiering in limited release, Fox Searchlight's costume drama Quills took in an impressive $249,383 from only nine theaters. Averaging a robust $27,709 per site, the period piece saw five-day sales of $324,456. Starring Geoffrey Rush, Kate Winslet, Joaquin Phoenix, and Michael Caine, Quills played in New York, Los Angeles, Toronto, San Francisco, and Boston and will add 13 more cities on December 15 before expanding into all major markets on Christmas Day.

Paramount Classics expanded its drama You Can Count On Me from 35 to 53 theaters and grossed $514,537 over three days. The total to date stands at $1.13 million and additional theaters will be added before the yuletide holiday.

A pair of November releases fell out of the top ten over the weekend. DreamWorks' The Legend of Bagger Vance, starring Will Smith and Matt Damon, upped its cume to $28.3M after its fourth weekend and should conclude with $30-35M. The $80M sci-fi flop Red Planet continued to crumble reaching a feeble $15.6M to date and looks to end its run with not much more.

The top ten films grossed a record-setting $163.2M over the three-day weekend which was up 14% from last year when Toy Story 2 debuted in the top spot with $57.4M; and up 45% from 1998 when A Bug's Life opened at number one with $33.3M.

Compared to projections, Unbreakable and 102 Dalmatians both opened lower than my respective forecasts of $40M and $35M. The Grinch shot ahead of my $38M prediction.

Take this week's NEW Reader Survey on which Dr. Seuss story should be the next to become a motion picture. In last week's survey, readers were asked which of seven December releases they wanted to see most. Of 5,772 responses, 51% selected Vertical Limit, 11% picked Proof of Life, 11% chose What Women Want, 9% said Cast Away, 8% went with The Family Man, 6% selected Miss Congeniality, and 3% picked The Emperor's New Groove.

Read the Weekly Rewind column which looks back at Thanksgiving weekend 1995. For a review of Unbreakable visit The Chief Report.

Be sure to check back on Thursday for a complete summary, including projections, for next weekend.

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

# Title Nov. 24 - 26 Nov. 17 - 19 % Chg. Theaters Weeks AVG Cumulative Dist.
1 How The Grinch Stole Christmas $ 52,118,445 $ 55,082,330 -5.4 3,134 2 $ 16,630 $ 137,095,800 Universal
2 Unbreakable 30,330,771 2,708 1 11,200 46,010,629 Buena Vista
3 102 Dalmatians 19,883,351 2,704 1 7,353 26,236,096 Buena Vista
4 Rugrats in Paris 17,405,678 22,718,184 -23.4 2,937 2 5,926 47,565,777 Paramount
5 Charlie's Angels 10,206,316 13,361,646 -23.6 2,838 4 3,596 108,656,067 Sony
6 Bounce 7,762,647 11,423,716 -32.0 2,014 2 3,854 24,174,710 Miramax
7 The 6th Day 7,510,352 13,020,883 -42.3 2,516 2 2,985 25,020,012 Sony
8 Men of Honor 6,848,283 7,906,419 -13.4 2,126 3 3,221 35,382,562 Fox
9 Meet the Parents 6,487,795 6,367,685 1.9 2,159 8 3,005 148,350,120 Universal
10 Little Nicky 4,680,198 7,753,107 -39.6 2,776 3 1,686 33,831,817 New Line
11 Billy Elliot 2,027,900 1,774,290 14.3 494 7 4,105 11,308,185 Uni. Focus
12 Remember the Titans 2,021,543 2,347,742 -13.9 1,194 9 1,693 110,300,868 Buena Vista
13 The Legend of Bagger Vance 1,923,649 2,817,983 -31.7 1,877 4 1,025 28,298,533 DreamWorks
14 Red Planet 1,143,281 2,818,384 -59.4 2,054 3 557 15,615,881 Warner Bros.
15 Best in Show 842,186 745,822 12.9 350 9 2,406 15,144,652 Warner Bros.
16 Pay it Forward 564,236 1,075,509 -47.5 602 6 937 32,059,159 Warner Bros.
17 You Can Count On Me 514,537 301,478 70.7 53 3 9,708 1,132,662 Par. Classics
18 Requiem for a Dream 273,118 224,188 21.8 78 8 3,502 1,748,854 Artisan
19 Bedazzled 266,067 700,489 -62.0 417 6 638 36,420,340 Fox
20 Quills 249,383 9 1 27,709 324,456 Fox Searchlight
Top 5 $ 129,944,561 $ 115,606,759 12.4
Top 10 163,233,836 143,270,337 13.9
Top 20 173,059,736 151,294,676 14.4
Top 20 vs. 1999 173,059,736 153,759,265 12.6

Last Updated : November 27 at 10:15PM EST

Written by Gitesh Pandya