Weekend Box Office (December 17 - 19, 1999)

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THIS WEEKEND A miniscule mouse sent moviegoers running into theaters as Stuart Little led all films at the box office beating out the combined grosses of two other high profile new releases. A-list stars Robin Williams and Jodie Foster, who have three Oscars and eleven $100M blockbusters between them, were no match for the adventurous mouse as Bicentennial Man and Anna and the King both opened to weaker sales. Meanwhile, the highly-praised Magnolia featuring Tom Cruise and an ensemble cast got off to a terrific start in limited release.

A talking mouse was the top draw at North American cinemas over the weekend as Sony's new family film Stuart Little opened at number one with $15M in ticket sales, according to final figures, pushing three-week champ Toy Story 2 down to third place. The studio unleashed the rodent ultrawide in 2,878 theaters and averaged a solid $5,218 per house. Stuart Little comes from Rob Minkoff who co-directed The Lion King and stars Geena Davis, Jerry Maguire's Jonathan Lipnicki, and the voice of Michael J. Fox as the title character. Carrying a hefty $103M pricetag, Stuart Little is now set to take advantage of a nation of children getting out of school and wanting to be taken to the movies. The picture enjoyed a splendid 71% surge in Saturday sales which is quite good, even for a kidpic which normally has a high Friday-to-Saturday increase.

Given the double Disney dose of Toy Story 2 and Bicentennial Man, families had plenty to chose from this weekend but Stuart Little prevailed despite stiff competition. Sony can certainly use a hit this year as the studio has only had three number one openings in 1999 - March's 8MM, June's Big Daddy, and September's Blue Streak. Grosses for Stuart Little should help propel Sony past the $600M mark in year-to-date ticket sales next weekend as the company looks set to finish the year in sixth place among studios in annual theatrical box office market share.

Remaining in second place was the critically-acclaimed Tom Hanks prison drama The Green Mile which grossed $12.7M in its second sentence. Down just 30%, the three-hour Warner Bros. hit had the lowest decline in the top ten and has collected a solid $36.7M in ten days despite having fewer showtimes per day than all other major releases. Directed by Frank Darabont (The Shawshank Redemption) and based on the best-selling book by Stephen King, The Green Mile remained a popular choice among moviegoers this weekend and is well-positioned to take advantage of the expanding box office over the next two weeks. Powered by the starpower of Hanks, good reviews, and positive word-of-mouth, the $60M death row picture should be able to reach the $100M milestone early next year.

After three weeks at number one, Toy Story 2 dropped two spots to third place with $12.1M vaulting its cume to a stellar $156.4M. This year has now given birth to a record eight blockbusters grossing more than $150M each. Toy Story 2 managed to hold on well despite the new competition for the family audience sliding 34% from last weekend. However, the previous Disney/Pixar computer-animated Thanksgiving release, A Bug's Life, dipped just 11% this same weekend last year. Repeating a maneuver that was popular with that insect toon, Disney will add fake bloopers to the end credits of Toy Story 2 this coming weekend in hopes of increasing repeat business.

Buena Vista's raunchy comedy Deuce Bigalow : Male Gigolo displayed fine stamina in its sophomore weekend slipping 32% to $8.3M pushing its ten-day sum to $24.3M. The Rob Schneider pic has successfully found its place as the major adult comedy in the marketplace and should go on to gross $50-60M at the box office.

Bicentennial Man, the new family film from the Mrs. Doubtfire duo of Robin Williams and director Chris Columbus, opened with a mediocre $8.2M. The story of an android that wants to be human landed in 2,518 locations and averaged $3,270 per site. With a reported cost of $90M, the Disney title will need to gain some momentum over the holidays if it wants a chance for success. In mid-December 1995, Williams' special-effects holiday entry Jumanji debuted with just $11.1M but eventually rode off to $100.5M domestic cume. Disney will be hoping that the Christmas and New Years boom will keep traffic flowing for their Bicentennial Man as well.

Jodie Foster's first film as a mother saw a disappointing debut as the lavish period piece Anna and the King opened with just $5.2M. The Fox release, directed by Andy Tennant (Ever After) and also starring Chow Yun-Fat, bowed in 2,132 theaters and averaged a mild $2,450 per kingdom. Two weekends of sneak previews did little to encourage moviegoers to see Anna this weekend but with the film's core audience of adult women preoccupied with holiday shopping and festivities, the Thailand-set drama may not reach its true potential until Christmas. Foster, who was reportedly paid $15M to star in this movie, last hit theaters with 1997's Contact which opened with $20.6M and eventually reached a domestic cume of $100.9M.

Superspy James Bond sipped martinis in seventh place as The World Is Not Enough was off 35% with $4M. With $105.4M in the bank so far, the MGM/UA blockbuster should surpass the $106.4M domestic tally of 1995's Goldeneye by Christmas and still has its eyes set on matching the $125.3M of 1997's Tomorrow Never Dies to become the biggest Bond ever. The World Is Not Enough is the 17th and final Bond film to feature the late Desmond Llewelyn as the gadget guru Q. The beloved actor died in a car crash on Sunday in England at age 85.

Dropping to eighth place was End of Days, Universal's satanic thriller starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, which grossed $3M bringing its cume to $57.9M. Paramount's Sleepy Hollow placed ninth with $3M pushing its total to $85.9M. The Bone Collector rounded out the top ten with $1M giving the Denzel Washington crime pic $62.4M.

New Line Cinema finally had something to smile about as the critically-acclaimed picture Magnolia opened exclusively in New York and Los Angeles with a potent $193,604 from just seven theaters. With a strong $27,658 average, the three-hour drama from Boogie Nights director Paul T. Anderson boasts an impressive cast including Jason Robards, William H. Macy, Julianne Moore, and Tom Cruise. Also in limited release, USA Films' Topsy-Turvy, which was named the year's best picture by the New York Film Critics Circle, opened with $32,718 from only two theaters.

Three films fell out of the top ten over the weekend. The quirky comedy Being John Malkovich is making the "Ten Best" lists of numerous critics and has taken in $16.5M to date while playing in under 600 theaters. The USA Films release should reach $20M though award recognitions could push that sum higher. The religious satire Dogma, starring Matt Damon and Ben Affleck, dropped 40% to $711,167 putting its total to date at $27.7M. Director Kevin Smith's $10M film screened in fewer than 1,300 theaters during its run and should end up grossing a solid $30M domestically.

Warner Bros. hit it big this season with Pokémon : The First Movie which has collected an impressive $83.1M at the domestic box office. Though most ticket sales were achieved in its first week, the animated pop culture phenomenon looks to achieve $85M by the end of its run which is a winfall considering the studio only paid modest amounts for acquiring and releasing the picture. Plus Pokémon has claimed the hottest selling soundtrack in America for five consecutive weeks.

Compared to projections, Stuart Little opened a few notches higher than my $12M forecast. Both The Green Mile and Toy Story 2 were close to my respective predictions of $13M and $11M. However, Bicentennial Man and Anna and the King did not come anywhere near my projections of $17M and $13M, respectively.

Visit the 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 heated Oscar race for Best Picture. In last week's survey, readers were asked which of five holiday films they were looking forward to the most. Of 2,888 responses, 31% picked Man on the Moon, 29% chose Bicentennial Man, 18% selected The Talented Mr. Ripley, 13% said Any Given Sunday, and 10% picked Anna and the King.

Be sure to read the Weekly Rewind column which looks at the box office performances this year of some of the leading ladies in Hollywood. This Wednesday's new column reports on the top Christmas Weekend movies this decade. For reviews of Man on the Moon, The Talented Mr. Ripley, and The Green Mile visit The Chief Report.

The top ten films over the weekend grossed $72.6M which was up 4% from last year when You've Got Mail opened at number one with $18.4M, but down 20% from 1997 when the mighty Titanic began its historic voyage with a $28.6M debut giving it the first of fifteen consecutive weeks atop the box office.

Be sure to check back on Thursday for a complete summary, including projections, for next weekend's Christmas frame when holiday films like Man on the Moon, Any Given Sunday, The Talented Mr. Ripley, and Galaxy Quest all storm into theaters nationwide.

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# Title Dec. 17 - 19 Dec. 10 - 12 % Chg. Theaters Weeks AVG Cumulative Dist.
1 Stuart Little $ 15,018,223 2,878 1 $ 5,218 $ 15,018,223 Sony
2 The Green Mile 12,765,678 18,017,152 -29.1 2,875 2 4,440 36,667,800 Warner Bros.
3 Toy Story 2 12,129,833 18,249,880 -33.5 3,228 5 3,758 156,354,721 Buena Vista
4 Deuce Bigalow 8,311,252 12,224,016 -32.0 2,162 2 3,844 24,343,790 Buena Vista
5 Bicentennial Man 8,234,926 2,518 1 3,270 8,234,926 Buena Vista
6 Anna and the King 5,223,416 2,132 1 2,450 5,223,416 Fox
7 The World Is Not Enough 4,101,449 6,158,132 -33.4 2,625 5 1,562 105,354,963 MGM/UA
8 End of Days 3,047,325 4,747,080 -35.8 2,409 4 1,265 57,895,205 Universal
9 Sleepy Hollow 3,022,605 4,716,222 -35.9 2,564 5 1,179 85,924,145 Paramount
10 The Bone Collector 979,440 1,706,040 -42.6 1,113 7 880 62,412,565 Universal
11 Being John Malkovich 751,248 962,925 -22.0 491 8 1,530 16,488,703 USA
12 Dogma 711,167 1,187,927 -40.1 662 6 1,074 27,682,036 Lions Gate
13 Pokémon 537,573 1,184,559 -54.6 1,804 6 298 83,127,955 Warner Bros.
14 American Beauty 527,468 603,130 -12.5 452 14 1,167 69,298,106 DreamWorks
15 The Sixth Sense 491,668 666,926 -26.3 623 20 789 275,176,668 Buena Vista
16 The Insider 364,797 569,334 -35.9 433 7 842 25,535,953 Buena Vista
17 The Cider House Rules 331,858 110,098 201.4 36 2 9,218 490,840 Miramax
18 The House on Haunted Hill 302,119 175,042 72.6 615 8 491 39,874,732 Warner Bros.
19 The Best Man 257,580 393,020 -34.5 318 9 810 33,040,275 Universal
20 Liberty Heights 251,424 290,923 -13.6 42 5 5,986 1,064,364 Warner Bros.
Top 5 $ 56,459,912 $ 59,396,260 -4.9
Top 10 72,834,147 69,153,933 5.3
Top 20 77,361,049 73,579,474 5.1

Last Updated : December 20 at 7:30PM EST

Written by Gitesh Pandya