Weekend Box Office (December 10 - 12, 1999)

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THIS WEEKEND Tom Hanks was expected to win the gold and silver medals at the box office, but the order of his films surprised many observers. The animated incumbent, Toy Story 2, made it three weeks in a row atop the charts as the new Hanks film The Green Mile debuted just $233,000 behind in second place according to final weekend results. Deuce Bigalow : Male Gigolo showed some virility with a solid third place opening while most Thanksgiving holdovers were finally pushed to the side. Meanwhile a pair of critically-acclaimed films got off to impressive starts with their platform debuts. Overall, breadth was lacking as only nine films managed to gross over $1M this weekend.

Toy Story 2 remained the most popular film in North America for the third consecutive weekend as it barely edged out the debut of The Green Mile with $18.25M according to final figures. After 19 days of wide release, the Disney/Pixar smash hit has grossed a mammoth $140.35M and eased just 34% from last weekend giving it the second smallest decline in the top ten. Toy Story 2 should surpass $175M by the turn of the century despite incoming competition from the family films Bicentennial Man and Stuart Little which both open on Friday.

The face AND voice of Tom Hanks could be found in second place as the acclaimed prison drama The Green Mile opened with $18M according to final studio figures. Directed by Frank Darabont (The Shawshank Redemption), the Warner Bros. release was locked down in 2,875 joints and averaged $6,267 giving it the best per-theater average in the top ten. The Green Mile features Hanks as the head guard of a Louisiana prison of death row inmates in 1935 who comes across the miraculous powers of a colossal, but timid, prisoner convicted of murdering two young girls. With a three-hour length, theaters could only offer a few showings per print per day which probably held back overall grosses. But the $60M film's 33% Friday-to-Saturday increase bodes well for the picture's future during the holidays as good word-of-mouth coupled with excellent reviews should keep its momentum going.

"These are the best exit polls we've ever had for any release" said Warner Bros. distribution head Dan Fellman. If The Green Mile displays strong legs in the weeks ahead, it could certainly gross over $100M giving Tom Hanks the tenth such blockbuster of his career. Last December, the two-time Oscar winner and Meg Ryan joined forces in You've Got Mail which opened with a similar $18.4M leading to a domestic gross of $115.8M.

Weekend estimates released on Sunday morning had Toy Story 2 with $18.7M and The Green Mile with $18.57M. Both final weekend grosses were lower than studio projections with Buena Vista off by $450,000 for its hit toon and Warners off by $550,000 for its jail tale.

Comedian Rob Schneider enjoyed a nice opening for his comedy Deuce Bigalow : Male Gigolo which brought in $12.2M in its first weekend of release. Turning tricks in 2,151 theaters, the Buena Vista release averaged a solid $5,683 despite receiving horrible reviews. In Deuce Bigalow, the Saturday Night Live alum stars as a fish tank cleaner who becomes a male prostitute in order to make some fast cash. The studio should take much of the credit for the R-rated film's impressive debut as it promoted it as being from the producers of Big Daddy and released the movie at a time when there was little competition from other comedies. Plus Bigalow's target audience of young males had already seen the other testosterone flicks in release and so Deuce became an easy top choice. However, with Saturday sales increasing only 16% over Friday's, long-term prospects may be iffy.

James Bond retreated two steps to fourth with a $6.2M take for The World Is Not Enough. Off 42%, the MGM/UA action film has surged to $99.4M and is set to hit the $100M mark on Tuesday, its 26th day of release. Arnold Schwarzenegger's millennium thriller End of Days crumbled 51% in its third coming with $4.7M. The Universal release has now banked $53.3M and is losing steam as it heads for the holidays.

Dropping 47% to $4.7M, Tim Burton's Sleepy Hollow sliced up a sixth place finish putting its total to date at $81.4M. Denzel Washington's crime thriller The Bone Collector followed in seventh with $1.7M and a $60.8M cume. Eighth place was claimed by Dogma which grossed $1.2M pushing its total to $26.4M.

Suffering one of the worst declines in the top ten was Pokemon which tumbled 50% to ninth with $1.2M. After a month of release, the Warner Bros. title (which also boasts the nation's best-selling soundtrack) has collected a splendid $82.4M though over 60% of that amount was achieved during the film's five-day opening frame. The studio is now preparing to unleash the next Pokemon installment next summer announcing a tentative July 21 release date for the sequel. Meanwhile, in its home country of Japan, the third Pokemon film is being readied for a Summer 2000 launch and is sure to invade North America sometime afterwards.

Rounding out the top ten was Being John Malkovich which slipped just 29% to $962,925. Now in its seventh weekend, the Spike Jonze-directed picture has brought in a solid $15.3M at the box office. Malkovich was just named one of the year's ten best films by The National Board of Review and earned the best screenplay honor from the Los Angeles Film Critics Association making it a top contender when Golden Globe and Academy Award nominations are announced later this winter.

A pair of well-reviewed films fell out of the top ten over the weekend. Anywhere But Here, starring Susan Sarandon and Natalie Portman, managed to push its cume to $17.6M. The Fox picture should go on to conclude with about $20M.

Buena Vista's tobacco industry drama The Insider took a 57% fall and put its sum at $24.9M. The Al Pacino-Russell Crowe film should end up collecting around $27-29M in its ashtray. This weekend, The Insider was showered with awards from the Los Angeles Film Critics Association which named the Michael Mann film best picture of the year plus gave it honors for best actor (Crowe), best supporting actor (Christopher Plummer), and best cinematography (Dante Spinotti). Earlier in the week, The Insider was named one of 1999's top films by The National Board of Review which also awarded Crowe the best actor honor.

Miramax platformed the critically-acclaimed picture The Cider House Rules in New York and Los Angeles and scored $110,098 from eight sites giving it an encourging $13,762 per theater. The National Board of Review last week gave John Irving its award for best screenplay of the year for Cider House.

Also premiering in New York and Los Angeles, with four theaters in each town, was the Depression-era saga Cradle Will Rock directed by Tim Robbins. Buena Vista brought in $93,998 for a strong average of $11,750 per site. Starring an ensemble cast including John Cusack, Susan Sarandon, Bill Murray, and Emily Watson, Cradle will expand into more big cities on Christmas weekend and widen further in January. Robbins last directed the Oscar-winning Dead Man Walking which opened four years ago with a $29,567 average from four theaters.

On Thursday, December 9th, Star Wars Episode I : The Phantom Menace concluded its one-week charity run collecting $2,160,781 in ticket sales in seven days which will be donated to a number of local organizations courtesy of Fox, Lucasfilm, and partcipating theaters. The George Lucas prequel now stands at $429,870,576 in domestic grosses and has collected over $916M across the globe.

Buena Vista reported a strong response to Saturday sneak previews for the Robin Williams family film Bicentennial Man. Fox countered with a second round of sneaks for its Jodie Foster-Chow Yun-Fat film Anna and the King. Both pictures open nationwide this coming Friday. Elsewhere at the domestic box office, The Sixth Sense reached $274.5M while Double Jeopardy climbed to $113.5M.

Compared to projections, The Green Mile debuted much lower than my $26M forecast. However, Toy Story 2 and Deuce Bigalow were both very close to my respective predictions of $19M and $12M.

Visit the new Box Office Guru Holiday Store with over 100 gift ideas on sale for the holidays including DVDs, videos, games, music, electronics, and more.

Take this week's NEW Reader Survey on the upcoming holiday releases. In last week's survey, readers were asked whether The Green Mile would open with at least $25M. Of 2,202 responses, 34% correctly answered no while 66% voted yes.

Be sure to read the Weekly Rewind column which looks at the biggest December openings of the decade. This Wednesday's new column will look at the box office performances this year of some of the leading ladies in Hollywood. For a review of The Green Mile visit The Chief Report.

The top ten films over the weekend grossed $69.2M which was up 7.5% from last year when Star Trek : Insurrection topped the charts with $22.1M, and even with 1997 when Scream 2 launched with a record $32.9M.

Be sure to check back on Thursday for a complete summary, including projections, for next weekend when Bicentennial Man, Anna and the King, and Stuart Little all hit theaters before the holidays.

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# Title Dec. 10 - 12 Dec. 3 - 5 % Chg. Theaters Weeks AVG Cumulative Dist.
1 Toy Story 2 $ 18,249,880 27,760,276 -34.3 3,257 4 $ 5,603 $ 140,350,365 Buena Vista
2 The Green Mile 18,017,152 2,875 1 6,267 18,017,152 Warner Bros.
3 Deuce Bigalow 12,224,016 2,151 1 5,683 12,224,016 Buena Vista
4 The World Is Not Enough 6,158,132 10,650,145 -42.2 3,063 4 2,010 99,409,816 MGM/UA
5 End of Days 4,747,080 9,642,415 -50.8 2,652 3 1,790 53,269,630 Universal
6 Sleepy Hollow 4,716,222 8,868,259 -46.8 3,065 4 1,539 81,360,813 Paramount
7 The Bone Collector 1,706,040 3,197,860 -46.7 2,031 6 840 60,833,400 Universal
8 Dogma 1,187,927 2,122,307 -44.0 1,162 5 1,022 26,385,319 Lions Gate
9 Pokémon 1,184,559 2,343,365 -49.5 2,426 5 488 82,369,077 Warner Bros.
10 Being John Malkovich 962,925 1,363,626 -29.4 630 7 1,528 15,294,721 USA
11 Anywhere But Here 741,244 1,319,257 -43.8 1,113 5 666 17,551,221 Fox
12 The Sixth Sense 666,926 966,524 -31.0 856 19 779 274,477,963 Buena Vista
13 American Beauty 603,130 780,219 -22.7 595 13 1,014 68,500,984 DreamWorks
14 The Insider 569,334 1,328,825 -57.2 823 6 692 24,931,288 Buena Vista
15 The Best Man 393,020 585,095 -32.8 457 8 860 32,668,660 Universal
16 Flawless 361,377 925,013 -60.9 483 3 748 4,029,045 MGM/UA
17 Double Jeopardy 311,925 538,007 -42.0 573 12 544 113,502,740 Paramount
18 Liberty Heights 290,923 73,880 293.8 42 4 6,927 730,454 Warner Bros.
19 Mysteries of Egypt (IMAX) 246,456 198,814 24.0 23 79 10,715 25,949,741 Destination
20 The Bachelor 241,206 566,103 -57.4 578 6 417 21,025,181 New Line
Top 5 $ 59,396,260 $ 60,118,955 -1.2
Top 10 69,153,933 68,596,335 0.8
Top 20 73,579,474 75,585,996 -2.7

Last Updated : December 13 at 8:30PM EST

Written by Gitesh Pandya