Weekend Box Office (November 26 - 28, 1999)

THIS WEEKEND Is this economy booming or what? North American moviegoers spent like crazy over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend as a number of appealing films drove the box office to its largest gross in history. The top four films alone sucked an eye-popping $172M from the wallets of moviegoers over the five-day period led by the phenomenal debut of Toy Story 2. Thrillseekers embraced The World Is Not Enough, End of Days, and Sleepy Hollow as the top ten movies collected a never-before-seen $143M over the Friday-to-Sunday session as the marketplace expanded immensely to accommodate all the exciting titles.

Shattering records left and right, Toy Story 2 sent seismic quakes throughout the box office with a gargantuan $57.4M opening gross over the Friday-to-Sunday period and a towering $80.1M haul over the five-day Thanksgiving holiday weekend, according to final studio figures. Launching ultrawide in 3,236 theaters (a new November record), Toy Story 2 filled up the seats averaging $17,734 per location over the three-day period and a staggering $24,754 over the five days.

Produced by Disney and Pixar, Toy Story 2 set new opening weekend records for Thanksgiving (beating A Bug's Life's $45.7M five-day tally from last year) and for the month of November beating The Waterboy's $39.4M Friday-to-Sunday debut last year. Toy Story 2 also smashed the records for the biggest Disney opening and largest animated film debut beating The Lion King's $40.9M roar from June 1994 which held both benchmarks for well over five years. Overall, Toy Story 2's $57.4M Friday-to-Sunday opening is the third biggest in box office history behind only The Lost World ($72.1M) and Star Wars Episode I ($64.8M).

The computer-animated sequel reunited the voices of Tom Hanks and Tim Allen and attracted moviegoers of all ages. Buena Vista reported that the film generated the best exit poll scores of any film in company history - animated or live action. The Mouse House was all smiles as they ruled the lucrative Thanksgiving holiday weekend for the sixth consecutive year and saw year-to-date domestic grosses surge past $1 billion for the second straight year on the strength of Toy Story 2. With all its momentum, it looks as if nothing may stop Buena Vista from claiming the annual market share crown for the fifth time in six years.

The original Toy Story opened over Thanksgiving weekend in 1995 with $29.1M in three days and $39.1M over the five-day frame. From there, it displayed spectacular legs and held on well during the holidays spending eight weeks in the top five. It grossed $184.9M when it left theaters in April 1996 and then was rereleased over Memorial Day weekend allowing it to coast to a $191.8M final as it played all summer.

People looking for more explosive entertainment over the holiday weekend found it in the James Bond adventure The World Is Not Enough which grossed $23.2M in three days and $34M in five days. Down a reasonable 35% from its debut frame, the 19th assignment for Agent 007 saw its cume rocket to a sizzling $75.5M in only ten days. By comparison, the last two Bond pics, 1997's Tomorrow Never Dies and 1995's Goldeneye, grossed $62.2M and $57.2M respectively in their initial ten days of release. World stars Pierce Brosnan in his third turn as the British superspy along with French actress Sophie Marceau, Scotsman Robert Carlyle and American Denise Richards.

The second weekend for Bond was very healthy indicating that audiences will still pay to see the big-budget adventures of the unstoppable hero. World is absorbing ticket dollars at the same rate as Goldeneye, another Bond pic released on the weekend before Thanksgiving. World's $35.5M debut was 35.5% ahead of Goldeneye's while its ten-day tally of $75.5M stands 32% ahead. If World continues to depreciate like Goldeneye, a final domestic haul of $135-140M seems likely making it the highest-grossing installment in the franchise to date. Overseas, World has already launched powerfully in Singapore and Malaysia and attacked Australia, Israel, South Africa, and the United Kingdom over the weekend. In the U.K., World delivered the fourth biggest opening weekend in British history with a mammoth $10M over the weekend making it the biggest Bond yet.

Moviegoers spent $20.5M watching Arnold Schwarzenegger battle Satan in the new supernatural thriller End of Days. The Universal release finds the action star protecting a young woman who was chosen to mate with the devil before the year 2000. Opening in 2,592 theaters, End of Days averaged a fiery $7,918 per site and grossed $31.5M over the five-day weekend. While the opening performance was very good, it was not spectacular and did not reach the Friday-to-Sunday heights of many of Schwarzenegger's previous action films. Terminator 2 debuted with $31.8M in 1991, True Lies opened with $25.9M in 1994, Total Recall premiered with $25.5M in 1990, and Arnold's last headlining film Eraser debuted with $24.6M. All four of those pictures were summer releases while his winter films have usually been comedies.

Universal reported that End of Days fared best with the male action crowd and performed well across ethnic and urban areas. Once the world's biggest box office star, Schwarzenegger needed a hit in order to justify his stature in the industry and to prove that unlike his action hero peers (Stallone, Seagal, Van Damme) he can still draw large audiences into the multiplexes with an explosive thrilling picture. The R-rated End of Days, which also starred Robin Tunney and Gabriel Byrne as Satan, was backed by an aggressive marketing campaign and was released at a time when people have the end of the millennium on their minds.

According to Universal, End of Days carries a production cost of $83M though other reports have pegged it at $100M. Whatever the accurate budget, the studio covered 40% of the cost and is handling domestic distribution while Buena Vista International has the picture internationally. Schwarzenegger action flicks tend to gross about 55-60% of their worldwide totals in overseas markets. Since End of Days deals with the coming of the year 2000, BVI is wasting no time rolling out the film around the world with simultaneous launches this weekend across Scandanavia, Italy, Argentina, and Singapore. Arnold and Satan will invade Germany, South Korea, Malaysia, and the United Kingdom in the coming weeks hoping to wreak havoc on a global scale.

The Headless Horseman decapitated moviegoers in fourth place as Sleepy Hollow seized $18.4M over the Friday-to-Sunday period and $26.9M over the five-day Thanksgiving frame. The Tim Burton thriller has now grossed an impressive $61.6M in its first ten days but fell a relatively high 39% from last weekend. So far Sleepy Hollow is performing much like Paramount's other recent pre-Thanksgiving entry - 1996's Star Trek : First Contact. Both films debuted with $30-31M during the weekend before the Turkey frame and generated $61-62M in ten days. The Trek film ended with $92M domestically while the Johnny Depp starrer looks to finish with $95-100M.

Pokémon slipped to fifth place with $7.1M over the three-day frame and raised its total to $77.7M. Down 43%, the Warner Bros. toon grossed $9.1M over the five-day holiday weekend but is fading fast.

Universal's crime thriller The Bone Collector fared well despite all the action competition taking in $5.5M over the weekend and $7.5M over the five-day session. Easing a slim 16%, the Denzel Washington-Angelina Jolie pic has collected $53.7M thus far and looks headed for about $65-70M.

Also enjoying a low decline, the Kevin Smith religious satire Dogma scored $3.4M and $5M over the long holiday frame. Off only 17%, the Lions Gate release stars Matt Damon and Ben Affleck and has grossed $21M to date putting it on course for a $30-35M final tally at its current pace. Dogma is already the highest-grossing film ever for both the director and the distributor.

Fox's Anywhere But Here dipped a scant 13% taking in $2.8M over the three-day frame raising its cume to $14.6M. Al Pacino claimed ninth with The Insider which dipped a mild 12% to $2.5M bringing its cume to $22.1M. The quirky comedy Being John Malkovich attracted many believers as the critically-acclaimed picture jumped 10% and grossed $2M putting its total at $11.9M while still playing in less than 600 theaters.

Debuting in eleventh place was director Joel Schumacher's Flawless starring Robert De Niro which opened with just $1.6M. Launching in a medium 478 theaters, the $15M MGM/UA release averaged a not-so-perfect $3,327 per site. Flawless features De Niro as a security guard who is aided by a drag queen after suffering a stroke. Since its Wednesday opening, the comedic drama has grossed $2M.

Elsewhere at the box office, The Sixth Sense climbed to $272.3M while Double Jeopardy reached $112.3M.

Stumbling out of the top ten were New Line's romantic comedy The Bachelor and Sony's adventure film The Messenger. Chris O'Donnell's $26M wedding flick has grossed $19.9M thus far and looks to tie the knot with $21-23M overall. Luc Besson's lavish tale of Joan of Arc has failed to conquer the North American box office with just $12.7M in ticket sales so far with a weak $15-16M final gross imminent.

Compared to projections, Toy Story 2 opened much stronger than my $37M three-day forecast while The World Is Not Enough was very close to my $25M prediction. End of Days debuted below my $26M projection, but Sleepy Hollow and Pokémon were both near my respective forecasts of $21M and $6M. Flawless premiered close to my $1M prediction.

Take this week's NEW Reader Survey on Arnold Schwarzenegger and Terminator 3. In last week's survey, readers were asked if Toy Story 2 would open bigger than the 1995 original. Of 2,337 responses, 82% correctly said it would while 18% thought it would not.

Be sure to read the Weekly Rewind column which reports on Thanksgiving weekend from 1995. Read the new Fall 1999 Box Office Review which looks back at the winners and losers of the season past. For reviews of Toy Story 2, The World Is Not Enough, and Sleepy Hollow visit The Chief Report.

The top ten films over the weekend grossed a record $142.9M which was up 27% from last year when A Bug's Life opened at number one with $33.3M, and up 50% from 1997 when Flubber debuted on top with $26.7M.

Be sure to check back on Thursday for a complete summary, including projections, for next weekend when Star Wars Episode I returns to the box office for a special charity run.

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

# Title Nov. 26 - 28 Nov. 19 - 21 % Chg. Theaters Weeks AVG Cumulative Dist.
1 Toy Story 2 $ 57,388,839 $ 300,163 3,236 2 $ 17,734 $ 80,481,962 Buena Vista
2 The World Is Not Enough 23,237,746 35,519,007 -34.6 3,163 2 7,347 75,508,007 MGM/UA
3 End of Days 20,523,595 2,592 1 7,918 31,509,775 Universal
4 Sleepy Hollow 18,414,444 30,060,467 -38.7 3,067 2 6,004 61,638,812 Paramount
5 Pokémon 7,105,860 12,502,869 -43.2 3,043 3 2,335 77,724,392 Warner Bros.
6 The Bone Collector 5,487,535 6,531,270 -16.0 2,505 4 2,191 53,747,635 Universal
7 Dogma 3,409,224 4,082,765 -16.5 1,292 3 2,639 21,013,088 Lions Gate
8 Anywhere But Here 2,822,227 3,249,861 -13.2 1,666 3 1,694 14,613,282 Fox
9 The Insider 2,480,294 2,829,625 -12.3 1,672 4 1,483 22,052,444 Buena Vista
10 Being John Malkovich 2,044,834 1,866,210 9.6 589 5 3,472 11,908,584 USA
11 Flawless 1,590,155 478 1 3,327 2,005,617 MGM/UA
12 The Sixth Sense 1,542,524 1,615,192 -4.5 1,017 17 1,517 272,318,916 Buena Vista
13 The Best Man 1,201,750 1,336,535 -10.1 506 6 2,375 31,344,960 Universal
14 The Messenger 1,201,493 2,275,613 -47.2 1,972 3 609 12,720,381 Sony
15 American Beauty 1,170,667 1,293,020 -9.5 585 11 2,001 66,524,764 DreamWorks
16 The Bachelor 1,138,217 2,430,414 -53.2 1,333 4 854 19,860,833 New Line
17 Double Jeopardy 1,008,383 1,437,283 -29.8 840 10 1,200 112,336,525 Paramount
18 Music of the Heart 780,118 1,000,288 -22.0 794 5 983 13,452,635 Miramax
19 The House on Haunted Hill 710,128 1,538,406 -53.8 1,041 5 682 38,641,297 Warner Bros.
20 The Omega Code 501,232 780,368 -35.8 299 7 1,676 11,489,374 Providence
Top 5 $ 126,670,484 $ 88,696,378 42.8
Top 10 142,914,598 101,348,101 41.0
Top 20 153,759,265 112,379,655 36.8

Last Updated : November 29 at 9:00PM EST

Written by Gitesh Pandya