Weekend Box Office (December 5 - 7, 1997)

THIS WEEKEND Holding onto the top spot over one of the slowest frames of the year, Flubber gave Disney its fifth, and probably last, weekend at number one in 1997. The Robin Williams goo-fest bagged $11.3M in its second weekend, down a hefty 58% from last weekend's three-day total, with its 12-day cume standing at $50M. Flubber's post-holiday performance measures up to last year's 101 Dalmatians, which also opened on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, and dropped 58% as well in its sophomore session. Dalmatians, however, had amassed $63.7M after its first 12 days before reaching a final tally of $136.2M.

With the year coming to a close, Disney boasts only three films that reached number one at the weekend box office. Con Air, famous for knocking The Lost World out of the driver's seat, spent one frame at the top while G.I. Jane and Flubber each spent two weekends there for a total of five weekends for the studio. Disney-owned Miramax, which is considered a separate distributor, landed at number one with Cop Land in August and should return to the top with the launch of the much-anticipated Scream 2 this coming weekend.

Alien : Resurrection tumbled 60% from last weekend's three-day total but managed to hold onto the bridesmaid position with $6.7M. By comparison, the last installment of the Sigourney Weaver franchise, Alien3, fell 64% during its second round in 1992 but that was a three-day frame compared to a four-day holiday opening. With the second-largest drop in the top ten, Resurrection is fading fast but should be able to finish its domestic run with $50-60M while international grosses should account for a much higher sum. After 12 days of release, Resurrection has totaled $36.2M in ticket sales. Alien3 reached roughly the same level but after only its first 10 days.

Showing some good signs of longevity, The Rainmaker climbed a notch to finish third with a gross of $5.7M. The Paramount adaptation of the best-selling John Grisham book lost 47% and boosted its 17-day sum to a respectable $34.5M. Rounding out the top five were Anastasia, down 57%, with a weekend take of $5.1M and The Jackal, off 47%, with $4M. The Jackal has now spent four weekends in the top five which is quite impressive at a time when movies open big and then fade fast.

Adding another 182 cinemas to its run, Clint Eastwood's Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil edged up one place to sixth with $2.9M. The Warner Bros. murder tale claimed the second-lowest dropoff and fourth-best per-theater average in the top ten. Popping its head back into the top ten was Sony's I Know What You Did Last Summer which also had by far the smallest decline of the group easing just 29%.

The weekend's best per-theater averages went to Flubber with $4,257 and Alien : Resurrection with $2,728 while the weakest averages in the top ten went to Bean and Starship Troopers with $728 and $682 respectively.

The only new release to make a name for itself was the critics' favorite Good Will Hunting starring the men from the number one and three movies. The Rainmaker's Matt Damon, who also co-wrote the screenplay, stars with Robin Williams. Hunting opened in just seven theaters in New York City and Los Angeles but collected $273,000 for a superb $38,987 average. Miramax will add screens during Christmas weekend and again in January.

With only $42.2M, the top ten films registered the third-lowest total of the year after the two weekends following Labor Day in September. This is nothing unusual as the weekend following the Thanksgiving frame traditionally sees audiences distracted by holiday shopping and family activities which lead to lower theatrical activity.

Compared to my projections, Flubber's 58% drop was close to my 55% predicted loss. Alien : Resurrection's 60% fall was on target with my anticipated 60% projected drop. For three-day grosses of recent hits during Thanksgiving weekend check The Top 20 Thanksgiving Films of the 1990s.

Overall, the top ten films grossed $42.2M which was down 22% from last year and down 10% from 1995. Be sure to check in again on Thursday for a complete review, including projections, of the coming weekend which features the new releases Scream 2, For Richer or Poorer, and Home Alone 3 plus audience reactions from the opening day in New York of Steven Spielberg's Amistad.

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

# Title Dec 5 - 7 Nov 28 - 30 % Chg. Weeks Cumulative Dist.
1 Flubber $ 11,292,933 $ 26,725,207 -57.7 2 $ 50,015,818 BV
2 Alien : Resurrection 6,660,086 16,474,092 -59.6 2 36,247,479 Fox
3 The Rainmaker 5,656,333 10,615,122 -46.7 3 34,452,097 Par.
4 Anastasia 5,093,749 11,837,750 -57.0 4 37,915,876 Fox
5 The Jackal 4,006,115 7,565,475 -47.0 4 46,221,860 Univ.
6 Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil 2,946,639 5,327,105 -44.7 3 17,803,033 WB
7 Mortal Kombat : Annihilation 2,609,157 6,789,482 -61.6 3 31,362,809 NL
8 I Know What You Did Last Summer 1,346,415 1,907,467 -29.4 8 68,762,319 Sony
9 Bean 1,308,701 2,955,340 -55.7 8 43,695,108 Gram.
10 Starship Troopers 1,265,132 2,753,437 -54.1 5 52,925,082 Sony
Top 5 $ 32,709,216 $ 73,217,646 -55.3
Top 10 42,185,260 95,033,324 -55.6

    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 8, 1997 at 9:20PM ESTHome