Weekend Box Office (November 28 - 30, 1997)

THIS WEEKEND The Thanksgiving holiday weekend saw audiences feast on two new releases while some of last weekend's leftovers were still appetizing. Final three-day grosses put Disney's Flubber at number one with an opening gross of $26.7M as it scored with family audiences, and $35.9M over the five-day holiday weekend. Debuting extremely wide in 2,641 theaters, the Robin Williams remake of The Absent-Minded Professor took in a gooey $10,119 per site over the Friday-to-Sunday period. Flubber will be able to outperform the last two Williams comedies Fathers Day ($28.7M) and Jack ($58.6M) and be able to join his last blockbuster The Birdcage ($124M) in the $100M club.

Flubber's opening was indeed a powerful launch to what could be a long and lucrative run for the family picture during the upcoming holiday season. Its opening five-day gross, however, fell short of those of the last two Disney movies opened over Thanksgiving weekend. Last year, the live-action 101 Dalmatians, starring Glenn Close, bagged a hefty $45.1M over the Wednesday-to-Sunday period while in 1995 Toy Story, featuring the voices of Tom Hanks and Tim Allen, collected $39.1M over the same five-day period. Flubber did open better than Mrs. Doubtfire, though. The 1993 Robin Williams comedy debuted over Thanksgiving weekend for a five-day tally of $22.6M. Final grosses for those three holiday films were $136.2M for Dalmatians, $191.8M for Toy Story, and $219.1M for Doubtfire. For a review of Flubber visit Chief's Movie Review Page.

Right on Flubber's tail was Alien : Resurrection which opened in second place with a three-day chomp of $16.5M with a five-day haul of $25.8M. The Fox sequel, starring Sigourney Weaver and Winona Ryder, launched in 2,415 locations for an alien-busting Friday-to-Sunday average of $6,822 per theater. With an average gross of $5.5M per day over the three-day weekend, Resurrection nearly cloned the $5.8M opening daily average of its predecessor Alien3 which grossed $23.1M over the four-day Memorial Day Weekend frame in 1992. Fox was also able to unleash its teaser for next summer's sci-fi picture X-Files : The Movie to those who turned out for Resurrection.

Resurrection's high levels of violence and gore could be a liability to its longevity. Next weekend's turnout will indicate whether the sci-fi pic will have a solid run or if it will crash and burn like Starship Troopers. Adding in ticket sales from France and Switzerland, Resurrection is off to a worldwide tally of $52M including grosses from its other openings as it also invaded Austria, Germany, Ireland, Malaysia, The Netherlands, The Philippines, Singapore, Spain, Sweden, and the United Kingdom over the weekend.

As expected, the Alien sequel attracted more diehard moviegoers during its initial days of release as Wednesday and Thursday grosses accounted for 36% ($9.3M) of the entire five-day gross whereas Flubber's audience was spread more evenly and saw just 26% ($9.2M) of its total sales on those first two days.

Both Alien and Flubber joined the list of big Thanksgiving weekend movies. For three-day grosses of recent hits during this holiday frame check The Top 20 Thanksgiving Films of the 1990s.

Dropping a notch to third place was Fox's stablemate Anastasia which grossed an enchanting $11.8M over the three-day period - down 16% from last weekend. After ten days of wide release its cumulative total stands at $31.3M and continues to show that audiences will pay to see non-Disney animated films. Together with Resurrection, Fox accounted for 30% of all ticket sales in the top ten.

Adult dramas did very well as The Rainmaker and Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil were basically unchanged compared to last weekend. Rainmaker's three-day gross of $10.6M was even with last weekend's sum and allowed it to nab fourth place. The John Grisham legal thriller's total gross over ten days is now $26.9M. Midnight, in seventh place, gained 2% with a take of $5.3M. The Clint Eastwood-directed drama averaged $4,933 per theater, fourth best in the top ten, as it added 256 locations. Rounding out the top five was The Jackal which collected $7.6M over the Friday-to-Sunday period and has a cumulative total of $40.6M. The strong results for these pictures could be an indication of many parents opting for a movie of their own instead of joining their kids for Flubber or Anastasia.

Last weekend's black belt champ Mortal Kombat : Annihilation was decapitated by the competition and plunged from first to sixth place with a take of $6.8M. Demoted to a pink belt, the New Line fantasy/martial arts flick slipped a mighty 60% and that's comparing a holiday weekend to a non-holiday frame. By comparison, the original Mortal Kombat in 1995 dropped 56% in its second weekend.

Opening in limited release was the possible Oscar contender Welcome to Sarajevo from Miramax. The Woody Harrelson starrer landed in 5 theaters and grossed $66,920 over the Friday-to-Sunday period for an explosive average of $13,384. Since opening on Wednesday, Sarajevo has totaled $89,000. The NC-17 drama Bent from MGM collected $109,243 in a dozen theaters over the weekend for a healthy average of $9,104 per site. Its total since Wednesday stands at $145,000. The Sweet Hereafter from Fine Line averaged $7,382 in 15 playdates for a three-day gross of $110,732 and a total gross thus far of $763,000.

Two movies fell out of the top ten including the Bill Murray comedy The Man Who Knew Too Little which stands at $11.2M and looks to end its run at around $15M. The other was the Sony hit horror film I Know What You Did Last Summer which spent six weeks in the top ten, has amassed $67M thus far, and is on its way to the $75M region. Completing her 17-day swim at theaters everywhere, the reissue of Disney's The Little Mermaid swam away with $23.9M in ticket sales which is not bad for a movie played on the Disney Channel and readily available on home video. Added to the gross of the 1989 original release, Mermaid's lifetime domestic theatrical gross now stands at $108.3M.

My projection of $28M for Flubber was very close to its gross of $26.7M while my $25M forecast for Alien : Resurrection was too optimistic as its take came in at $16.5M.

Overall, the top ten films grossed $95M which was down 11% from last year and up 60% from 1995 when Thanksgiving was a week earlier. Be sure to check in again on Thursday for a complete review, including projections, of next weekend's box office.

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

# Title Nov 28 - 30 Nov 21 - 23 % Chg. Weeks Cumulative Dist.
1 Flubber $ 26,725,207 1 $ 35,892,031 BV
2 Alien : Resurrection 16,474,092 1 25,789,455 Fox
3 Anastasia 11,837,750 14,104,933 -16.1 3 31,311,194 Fox
4 The Rainmaker 10,615,122 10,626,507 -0.1 2 26,887,272 Par.
5 The Jackal 7,565,475 9,024,095 -16.2 3 40,585,655 Univ.
6 Mortal Kombat : Annihilation 6,789,482 16,771,694 -59.5 2 27,784,741 NL
7 Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil 5,327,105 5,233,658 1.8 2 13,540,439 WB
8 The Little Mermaid (reissue) 3,990,314 5,687,421 -29.8 3 23,947,879 BV
9 Bean 2,955,340 4,288,080 -31.1 7 42,000,126 Gram.
10 Starship Troopers 2,753,437 4,707,484 -41.5 4 51,005,214 Sony
Top 5 $ 73,217,646 $ 56,214,650 30.2
Top 10 95,033,324 75,964,306 25.1

    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 : December 2, 1997 at 10:30AM ESTHome