Weekend Box Office (November 30 - December 2, 2001)

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THIS WEEKEND For the third consecutive weekend, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone topped the North American box office despite a strong second-place debut by the military action film Behind Enemy Lines. Potter and Disney's Monsters, Inc. both crossed the $200M mark over the weekend making them the fourth and fifth films this year to reach that distinguished level.

Once again, Harry Potter led the way at theaters with $23.6M, according to final studio figures, falling a hefty 59% from last weekend's Thanksgiving holiday frame. The Warner Bros. hit averaged $6,439 per theater (second-best in the top ten) and has raised its cume to a massive $219.7M in just 17 days. While Harry Potter set new industry records for best first and second weekend grosses, it could not break the benchmark for largest third weekend gross which is still held by Titanic with $33.3M. Potter now sits at number 26 on the all-time domestic blockbusters list between last summer's Rush Hour 2 ($225.7M) and 1993's Mrs. Doubtfire ($219.2M).

After demolishing box office records in its first two weeks, Harry Potter is now slowing down its pace. A final gross in the vicinity of $300M now seems likely. Last year this weekend, How the Grinch Stole Christmas dropped a slimmer 48% in its third frame and raised its 17-day total to $172M, or 66% of its eventual $260M haul. With its holiday theme, Grinch remained extremely strong throughout December. The slowing Potter may not have the same legs during the holiday season due to its larger weekly declines - especially with the December 19 bow of The Lord of the Rings on the horizon.

Gunning down the number two spot was Fox's Navy rescue film Behind Enemy Lines which took in a strong $18.7M in its opening weekend. Playing in 2,770 theaters, the PG-13 film averaged a solid $6,764 per venue giving it the best average in the top ten. Enemy stars Owen Wilson as a downed U.S. pilot in Bosnia and Gene Hackman as the commanding officer who leads the rescue efforts.

Fox took a chance and moved the release date of the $40M film from January 18 to the post-Thanksgiving slot. With holiday shopping distracting adults and exam season preoccupying students, studios have mostly left the weekend after the Thanksgiving frame open. In fact, the last movie to generate a powerful opening on this weekend was Star Trek VI ten years ago when it launched with $18.2M and a $10,068 average. With Fox's successful test, other studios may begin programming films into the post-Turkey slot in the coming years.

"We couldn't be happier," remarked Fox distribution president Bruce Snyder who noted the importance of being the first of a handful of war films in the coming months to reach theaters. Adult men made up the core audience with 54% male and 54% being 25 or older. Moviegoers were generally pleased with Behind Enemy Lines as those polled by CinemaScore gave the action picture a B+. The studio's own exit polls had 80% marking the film "excellent" or "very good" and those saying they would definitely recommend the picture rated in the "high 60 percent range," according to Snyder.

Robert Redford and Brad Pitt held steady in third place with the thriller Spy Game which grossed $11M in its second weekend. Down a reasonable 49% from the holiday weekend, the Universal release has taken in $46.7M in 12 days. With a $90M production cost, Spy Game should find its way to $70-75M domestically and could soar to a higher gross in international territories.

Disney and Pixar watched their blockbuster hit Monsters, Inc. cross the $200M mark on Saturday, its 30th day of release, with a weekend take of $9.1M. Now standing tall with $204M, the animated comedy ranks 35th on the list of all-time domestic blockbusters between The Exorcist's lifetime cume of $204.6M and last May's The Mummy Returns with $202M.

Dropping 49% to fifth place was the Martin Lawrence comedy Black Knight with $5.5M and a 12-day total of $22.8M. Budgeted at roughly $35M, the Fox release should find its way to $35-40M. The studio's other November comedy, Shallow Hal, placed sixth with $4.5M, down 47%, for a cume of $61.1M.

Buena Vista's snowboarding pic Out Cold declined only 40% to $2.7M for a sum of $10.3M after 12 days. The PG-13 film should reach $18-20M. John Travolta took eighth place with Domestic Disturbance which grossed $1.9M in its fifth weekend for a $42.4M total.

The French-language comedy Amelie powered its way into the top ten despite playing in a mere 218 theaters with a weekend gross of $1.4M. Averaging a solid $6,232 in its fifth weekend of limited release, the Miramax title has upped its cume to an impressive $9.8M. Amelie joins an elite group of foreign-language films to have cracked the top ten at the North American box office including Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and Life is Beautiful. Both of those films won the Oscar for foreign-lingo pic. But that wasn't the only remarkable achievement for Amelie this weekend. The Jean-Pierre Jeunet picture also won Best Film and Best Director at the annual European Film Awards held in Berlin on Saturday.

Rounding out the top ten was the action drama Heist with Gene Hackman and Danny DeVito which collected $1.2M, off 62%, for a $22M overall haul.

In limited release, Miramax opened the long-delayed western Texas Rangers and grossed a pitiful $319,516. Playing in 402 theaters, the Dylan McDermott-James Van Der Beek film averaged an embarrassing $795 per venue. Warner Bros. went into 18 theaters in New York, Los Angeles, Toronto, and San Francisco with the period piece The Affair of the Necklace which grossed $125,523. Averaging $6,974 per site, the Warner Bros. film stars Oscar winner Hilary Swank and attracted mixed reviews.

A pair of films dropped out of the top ten over the weekend. New Line's Life as a House took in $1.1M, down 48%, for a $13.8M total on its way to $16-18M. Jet Li's sci-fi actioner The One tumbled 63% to $772,858 for a $43.1M cume. The $75M Sony release should end up with just under $45M.

Paramount Classics expanded the Ed Burns film Sidewalks of New York from 99 to 208 theaters and collected $608,572. The romantic comedy averaged a mild $2,926 per site and has grossed $1.4M in 12 days.

The top ten films grossed $79.7M which was even with last year when How the Grinch Stole Christmas remained in the top spot with $27.1M; and up 16% from 1999 when Toy Story 2 stayed at number one with $27.8M.

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Compared to projections, Behind Enemy Lines opened close to my $17M forecast.

Take this week's NEW Reader Survey on the opening weekend gross of Ocean's Eleven. In last week's survey, readers were asked which of five December releases they wanted to see the most. Of 1,507 responses, 38% picked Ocean's Eleven, 18% selected Vanilla Sky, 17% said The Majestic, 15% voted for Ali, and 12% picked Not Another Teen Movie.

Read the Weekly Rewind column which reports on Thanksgiving weekend 1995. For a review of Harry Potter visit The Chief Report.

Be sure to check back on Thursday for a complete summary, including projections, for next weekend when Ocean's Eleven debuts.

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# Title Nov 30 - Dec 2 Nov 23 - 25 % Chg. Theaters Weeks AVG Cumulative Dist.
1 Harry Potter $ 23,642,327 $ 57,487,755 -58.9 3,672 3 $ 6,439 $ 219,670,289 Warner Bros.
2 Behind Enemy Lines 18,736,133 2,770 1 6,764 18,736,133 Fox
3 Spy Game 11,013,350 21,689,125 -49.2 2,770 2 3,976 46,692,115 Universal
4 Monsters, Inc. 9,105,664 24,055,001 -62.1 3,390 5 2,686 204,025,728 Buena Vista
5 Black Knight 5,522,248 11,102,948 -50.3 2,534 2 2,179 22,783,562 Fox
6 Shallow Hal 4,525,000 8,516,424 -46.9 2,429 4 1,863 61,101,477 Fox
7 Out Cold 2,718,839 4,531,665 -40.0 2,011 2 1,352 10,288,443 Buena Vista
8 Domestic Disturbance 1,912,678 4,008,337 -52.3 1,850 5 1,034 42,381,154 Paramount
9 Amelie 1,358,649 1,811,595 -25.0 218 5 6,232 9,754,200 Miramax
10 Heist 1,182,497 3,113,033 -62.0 1,252 4 944 22,005,215 Warner Bros.
11 Life as a House 1,096,158 2,121,159 -48.3 950 6 1,154 13,833,668 New Line
12 The Wash 794,185 1,649,089 -51.8 535 3 1,484 7,885,172 Lions Gate
13 The One 772,858 2,075,363 -62.8 973 5 794 43,074,250 Sony
14 Les Boys III 721,350 115 1 6,273 721,350 Christal
15 K-Pax 675,640 1,727,020 -60.9 889 6 760 49,252,340 Universal
16 Sidewalks of New York 608,572 545,132 11.6 208 2 2,926 1,421,610 Par. Class.
17 The Man Who Wasn't There 596,865 954,389 -37.5 247 4 2,416 5,434,558 USA Films
18 Thirteen Ghosts 578,141 1,077,838 -46.4 568 6 1,018 40,442,401 Warner Bros.
19 Serendipity 559,639 479,686 16.7 1,008 8 555 48,730,193 Miramax
20 Texas Rangers 319,516 402 1 795 319,516 Miramax
Top 5 $ 68,019,722 $ 122,851,253 -44.6
Top 10 79,717,385 138,700,810 -42.5
Top 20 86,440,309 148,222,147 -41.7
Top 20 vs. 2000 86,440,309 86,085,208 0.4

Last Updated : December 3, 2001 at 9:00PM EST