Weekend Box Office (December 7 - 9, 2001)

*** Box Office Guru Holiday Store - DVDs, posters, and more! ***

THIS WEEKEND Warner Bros. dominated the North American box office with the powerful opening of the casino heist remake Ocean's Eleven which bumped the studio's three-time chart-topper Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone to second place. Boasting an all-star ensemble cast featuring George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Andy Garcia, Matt Damon, and Julia Roberts, Ocean's Eleven made off with a spectacular $38.1M in winnings, according to final studio figures, making it the biggest December opening in history surpassing What Women Want's $33.6M from last year. Playing in 3,075 theaters, Ocean's Eleven averaged a brawny $12,393 per location.

With no other new films opening in wide release, the Steven Soderbergh-directed picture easily commanded the attention of moviegoers looking for more mature fare after recent youth-oriented megahits Harry Potter and Monsters, Inc. Ocean's Eleven generated the best debut ever for most of the cast which also included Don Cheadle, Elliot Gould, Carl Reiner, Bernie Mac, Scott Caan, and Casey Affleck. Previous career-bests include Julia Roberts' Runaway Bride ($35.1M) and Brad Pitt's Interview with the Vampire ($36.4M). George Clooney, however, has seen two bigger openings from a pair of Warner Bros. summer tentpole pics - 1997's Batman & Robin ($42.9M) and 2000's The Perfect Storm ($41.3M).

Audiences certainly enjoyed Ocean's Eleven as moviegoers polled by CinemaScore gave the PG-13 film a B+ grade. Saturday sales increased a decent 17% over Friday. While long-term prospects look encouraging, the profit potential for the studio may be somewhat limited due to reported backend participation deals that many of the bigger stars took in order to lower their usual asking prices to help keep the budget manageable. Still, Soderbergh should score his third consecutive $100M hit after Erin Brockovich and Traffic solidifying his stature as Hollywood's second-most famous Steven.

After a three-week reign, Harry Potter took a step back to second place grossing $14.7M. Off a reasonable 38%, the Warner Bros. release has upped its towering cume to $239.7M. After only 24 days, the Chris Columbus-directed adventure sits at number 21 on the list of all-time domestic blockbusters after Twister which took in $241.9M in 1996. Worldwide, Harry Potter has rocketed to an unbelievable $479M in less than a month becoming the number one global grosser of 2001 sprinting past Shrek's $453M.

With both Ocean's Eleven and Harry Potter doing stellar end-of-year business, Warner Bros. became the first studio in 2001 to break the $1 billion mark in box office sales. With roughly $1.06 billion worth of tickets sold to date, and the Jim Carrey vehicle The Majestic set for a December 21 release, the studio could exceed the $1.26 billion that Sony Pictures collected in 1997 to set a new one-year sales record for a studio. Of course, ticket prices have risen significantly since four years ago when Sony led the way with Men in Black, Air Force One, and My Best Friend's Wedding.

Fox's military action film Behind Enemy Lines crumbled faster than the Taliban army dropping 57% in its second mission to $8M for a ten-day total of $31.2M. Budgeted at $40M, the Gene Hackman-Owen Wilson picture looks to complete its tour of duty with $50-55M.

Holding steady in fourth place was Disney's Monsters, Inc. with $6.6M pushing its cume to a mighty $212.4M. New outtakes were added to the end of the film this weekend in order to entice fans to return for another trip. The strategy helped as the animated comedy slipped only 28% from last weekend. Monsters, Inc. now sits at number 32 on the list of all-time domestic blockbusters behind Mission: Impossible 2's cume of $215.4M.

With Brad Pitt fans flocking to see him in Ocean's Eleven, moviegoers abandoned his espionage thriller Spy Game which tumbled 59% in its third weekend to $4.5M bringing its 19-day tally to $53.9M. Martin Lawrence saw a 43% drop for his comedy Black Knight which took in $3.2M for a $27.1M cume overall. Shallow Hal, the highest-grossing live-action comedy since American Pie 2, followed in seventh with $2.6M, off 43%, for a $64.8M total.

Buena Vista's snowboarding flick Out Cold fell 49% to $1.4M giving it a chilly $12.2M gross. The French hit Amelie remained in ninth place with $1M boosting its cume to a terrific $11.3M while still playing in just 221 theaters. John Travolta rounded out the top ten with the thriller Domestic Disturbance which grossed $922,279, down 52%, for a $43.7M sum.

The Gene Hackman-Danny DeVito caper pic Heist dropped from the top ten in its fifth weekend with $453,646. With $22.9M to date, the Warner Bros. release should finish with about $24M.

The top ten films grossed $81M which was up 5% from last year when How the Grinch Stole Christmas remained in the top spot with $18.6M; and up 17% from 1999 when Toy Story 2 stayed at number one with $18.2M.

Visit the NEW Box Office Guru Holiday Store with savings on dozens of gift ideas including DVDs, posters, CDs, calendars, and more.

Compared to projections, Ocean's Eleven opened on target with my $38M forecast.

Take this week's NEW Reader Survey on Steven Spielberg's E.T. In last week's survey, readers were asked whether Ocean's Eleven would open with at least $25M. Of 2,056 responses, 83% said Yes, while 17% said No.

Read the Weekly Rewind column which looks at Tom Cruise's recent box office track record. For a review of Ocean's Eleven visit The Chief Report.

Be sure to check back on Thursday for a complete summary, including projections, for next weekend when Vanilla Sky and Not Another Teen Movie both debut.

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

# Title Dec 7 - 9 Nov 30 - Dec 2 % Chg. Theaters Weeks AVG Cumulative Dist.
1 Ocean's Eleven $ 38,107,822 3,075 1 $ 12,393 $ 38,107,822 Warner Bros.
2 Harry Potter 14,737,696 23,642,327 -37.7 3,672 4 4,014 239,659,542 Warner Bros.
3 Behind Enemy Lines 8,042,009 18,736,133 -57.1 2,844 2 2,828 31,180,676 Fox
4 Monsters, Inc. 6,597,454 9,105,664 -27.5 2,884 6 2,288 212,391,025 Buena Vista
5 Spy Game 4,473,550 11,013,350 -59.4 2,770 3 1,615 53,946,190 Universal
6 Black Knight 3,155,226 5,522,248 -42.9 2,233 3 1,413 27,060,883 Fox
7 Shallow Hal 2,577,048 4,525,000 -43.0 2,217 5 1,162 64,784,820 Fox
8 Out Cold 1,396,830 2,718,839 -48.6 1,651 3 846 12,242,292 Buena Vista
9 Amelie 1,005,599 1,358,649 -26.0 221 6 4,550 11,303,432 Miramax
10 Domestic Disturbance 922,279 1,912,678 -51.8 1,471 6 627 43,722,973 Paramount
11 Life as a House 639,486 1,096,158 -41.7 1,068 7 599 14,846,545 New Line
12 The Wash 532,896 794,185 -32.9 461 4 1,156 8,725,106 Lions Gate
13 Heist 453,646 1,182,497 -61.6 804 5 564 22,862,066 Warner Bros.
14 Les Boys III 438,482 721,350 -39.2 116 2 3,780 1,481,641 Miramax
15 Thirteen Ghosts 411,660 578,141 -28.8 463 7 889 41,016,269 Warner Bros.
16 The One 356,829 772,858 -53.8 517 6 690 43,646,951 Sony
17 Training Day 352,772 221,281 59.4 441 10 800 75,685,034 Warner Bros.
18 The Man Who Wasn't There 340,502 596,865 -43.0 259 5 1,315 5,969,582 USA Films
19 K-Pax 332,095 675,640 -50.8 738 7 450 49,761,550 Universal
20 Sidewalks of New York 308,298 608,572 -49.3 225 3 1,370 1,894,886 Par. Class.
Top 5 $ 71,958,531 $ 68,019,722 5.8
Top 10 81,015,513 79,717,385 1.6
Top 20 85,182,179 86,440,309 -1.5
Top 20 vs. 2000 85,182,179 85,037,691 0.2

Last Updated : December 10, 2001 at 10:15PM EST