Weekend Box Office (December 1 - 3, 2000)

THIS WEEKEND With no new releases opening, Universal's holiday smash How The Grinch Stole Christmas swiped the top spot at the North American box office for the third consecutive weekend with $27.1M in ticket sales, according to final studio figures. Dropping a moderate 48% from its Thanksgiving weekend feast, the Jim Carrey blockbuster has watched its total gross surge to a staggering $172M in only 17 days. The post-holiday hold was better than the 52% decline that last year's Toy Story 2 experienced over the same period.

In less than three weeks of release, Grinch has already become Universal's highest-grossing picture since 1997's The Lost World and ranks as the seventh biggest blockbuster in the studio's history tied with another Ron Howard-directed film - 1995's Apollo 13. For the year to date, Grinch has quickly risen to fourth place behind Mission: Impossible 2 ($215.4M), Gladiator ($186.6M), and The Perfect Storm ($182.6M) and will overtake all three before Christmas weekend.

In its second weekend of release, M. Night Shyamalan's suspense thriller Unbreakable collected $14.4M declining 52% in the process. The PG-13 film stars Bruce Willis and Samuel L. Jackson and has grossed a solid $66.3M in 12 days. Released by Buena Vista, Unbreakable could find its way to $110-120M at the domestic box office. Given Willis' enormous pull in overseas markets, international sales should be able to surge well ahead of that sum.

The canine comedy 102 Dalmatians fell 58% in its second weekend and collected $8.3M. After 12 days, the Disney family film has taken in $36.6M, or 42% less than the $63.7M that 1996's 101 Dalmatians had grossed after the same amount of time. So far, the sequel is depreciating at the same rate as the original which fell a similar 58% in its second weekend on its way to a $136.2M total. Should 102 Dalmatians continue to follow the same path, a final gross of close to $80M would result for the Glenn Close picture.

With Universal and Disney controlling the top three spots, a close race for the year's market share crown continues to unfold. Universal now trails by only $50M even though it has released fewer movies this year. Both distribution companies will enjoy sales of over $1 billion in the year 2000, but bragging rights come January will depend on the staying power of the current releases coupled with the performances of the studios' final releases of the season - Disney's animated feature The Emperor's New Groove opening December 15 and Universal's uplifting holiday tale The Family Man bowing December 22.

Studios generally refrain from opening new films on the weekend after Thanksgiving since consumers shift their attention to holiday shopping and make moviegoing less of a priority. Next weekend will see three new pictures launch - the hostage thriller Proof of Life, the avalanche actioner Vertical Limit, and the fantasy adventure Dungeons & Dragons. Warner Bros. plans to open Proof of Life in over 2,700 theaters while Sony crashes into roughly 2,300 locations with Vertical Limit. New Line will go nationwide with Dungeons & Dragons as well.

Paramount's Rugrats in Paris suffered the worst decline in the top ten tumbling 63% to $6.5M in its third weekend. The animated sequel pushed its cume to $55.6M after 17 days putting it 18% behind the pace of its 1998 predecessor, The Rugrats Movie, which also opened on the weekend before Thanksgiving. Made for $30M, Rugrats in Paris should make its way to around $75M and enjoy a healthy life on video.

Fighting crime in fifth place was the action hit Charlie's Angels which dropped 51% to $5M. After its fifth weekend, the $92M extravaganza has grossed $115.4M and should be able to reach $130M domestically. Across the Atlantic, Angels delivered number one openings in both Germany and Spain this weekend and watched its international cume soar to roughly $50M, according to Sony marketing and distribution chief Jeff Blake.

Enjoying a good hold was the romantic drama Bounce, starring Ben Affleck and Gwenyth Paltrow, which grossed $4.4M. Down 43%, the Miramax title has taken in $30.3M thus far. Bounce was budgeted at $35M and should go on to bring in $40-45M.

The military drama Men of Honor slid only 39% to $4.2M for seventh place and lifted its cume to $41.2M. The Fox release was produced for $38M and should eventually reach $50-55M.

Arnold Schwarzenegger's The 6th Day is shaping up to be the actor's lowest-grossing action film in over a decade. The Sony release fell 47% this weekend to $4M and put its 17-day sum at $30.6M. Carrying a negative cost of $82M, the effects-heavy cloning thriller is set to conclude its domestic run in the vicinity of $40M.

Robert De Niro's comedy Meet the Parents collected $3.8M, off 41%, and boosted its total to $153.2M. Budgeted at $51M, the Universal blockbuster seems on its way to $165-170M domestically.

Adam Sandler's latest comedy Little Nicky rounded out the top ten with $2.2M for a $36.7M cume. Produced for nearly $80M, the New Line release looks to finish with around $40-45M.

Warner Bros. offered movie fans an early treat with a Saturday evening sneak preview of Proof of Life which generated positive results. Describing the audience, studio distribution president Dan Fellman remarked "the picture was mostly 25 and older and skewed a little more female." He also stated that most showings were near capacity and that exit polls were "excellent." Proof of Life opens across North America this Friday.

In limited release, Fox Searchlight's costume picture Quills was still red hot averaging a scorching $23,037 per theater in only nine locations. The weekend take of $207,337 was off just 17% from its Thanksgiving debut giving the period piece a remarkable hold. With $640,439 in the bank, Quills will widen to about 60 theaters on December 15 and then expand to roughly 200 sites on Christmas Day as it campaigns for the attention of critics and Academy members.

Miramax platformed the reissue of the classic Beatles film A Hard Day's Night in New York and Los Angeles and took in a stellar $50,445 from only two theaters. With a new greatest hits album from the Fab Four hitting the top of the album sales charts, and endless television programs geared towards the group, the extra publicity certainly helped to fill the seats for Night which expands into ten additional markets on Friday.

Also generating strong numbers with arthouse customers was Paramount Classics' You Can Count On Me which grossed $390,489. Off only 24%, the sibling drama averaged an impressive $7,368 and put its cume at $1.64M. The film expands further on December 22.

The top ten films grossed $80M which was up 17% from last year when Toy Story 2 remained in the top spot with $27.8M; and up 31% from 1998 when A Bug's Life sat at number one with $17.2M.

Compared to projections, How the Grinch Stole Christmas was very close to my $28M forecast. Unbreakable and 102 Dalmatians came in a little below my respective predictions of $16M and $10M.

Take this week's NEW Reader Survey on action stars Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone. In last week's survey, readers were asked which Dr. Seuss story should be the next to become a motion picture. Of 1,729 responses, 47% selected The Cat in the Hat, 31% picked The Sneetches, and 22% said Green Eggs and Ham.

Read the Weekly Rewind column which reports on the top December openings. For reviews of How The Grinch Stole Christmas and Unbreakable visit The Chief Report.

Be sure to check back on Thursday for a complete summary, including projections, for next weekend when Vertical Limit, Proof of Life, and Dungeons & Dragons all open.

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

# Title Dec. 1 - 3 Nov. 24 - 26 % Chg. Theaters Weeks AVG Cumulative Dist.
1 How The Grinch Stole Christmas $ 27,096,630 $ 52,118,445 -48.0 3,138 3 $ 8,635 $ 171,996,090 Universal
2 Unbreakable 14,440,935 30,330,771 -52.4 2,708 2 5,333 66,346,208 Buena Vista
3 102 Dalmatians 8,295,041 19,883,351 -58.3 2,704 2 3,068 36,603,358 Buena Vista
4 Rugrats in Paris 6,506,221 17,405,678 -62.6 2,937 3 2,215 55,574,878 Paramount
5 Charlie's Angels 5,020,164 10,206,316 -50.8 2,751 5 1,825 115,422,099 Sony
6 Bounce 4,415,726 7,762,647 -43.1 2,014 3 2,193 30,326,487 Miramax
7 Men of Honor 4,176,811 6,848,283 -39.0 2,188 4 1,909 41,211,622 Fox
8 The 6th Day 4,011,583 7,510,352 -46.6 2,516 3 1,594 30,563,207 Sony
9 Meet the Parents 3,823,050 6,487,795 -41.1 2,317 9 1,650 153,198,610 Universal
10 Little Nicky 2,223,324 4,680,198 -52.5 2,470 4 900 36,748,272 New Line
11 Billy Elliot 1,341,300 2,027,900 -33.9 510 8 2,630 13,205,040 Uni. Focus
12 The Legend of Bagger Vance 1,014,720 1,923,649 -47.3 1,535 5 661 29,726,567 DreamWorks
13 Remember the Titans 1,006,166 2,021,543 -50.2 1,191 10 845 111,595,958 Buena Vista
14 Red Planet 748,561 1,143,281 -34.5 1,453 4 515 16,689,623 Warner Bros.
15 Best in Show 487,565 842,186 -42.1 350 10 1,393 15,777,255 Warner Bros.
16 You Can Count On Me 390,489 514,537 -24.1 53 4 7,368 1,644,637 Par. Classics
17 Pay it Forward 367,920 564,236 -34.8 531 7 693 32,549,288 Warner Bros.
18 Cyberworld 264,003 249,383 5.9 37 2 7,135 3,221,221 Fox Searchlight
19 Bedazzled 240,922 266,067 -9.5 454 7 531 36,730,986 Fox
20 Requiem for a Dream 214,077 273,118 -21.6 78 9 2,745 2,083,431 Artisan
Top 5 $ 61,358,991 $ 129,944,561 -52.8
Top 10 80,009,485 163,233,836 -51.0
Top 20 86,085,208 173,059,736 -50.3
Top 20 vs. 1999 86,085,208 75,585,996 13.9

Last Updated : December 4 at 8:15PM EST

Written by Gitesh Pandya