Weekend Box Office (December 24 - 26, 1999)
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THIS WEEKEND Christmas may be a time for family films, but R-rated thrillers from Oscar-winning directors led the box office this year over the holiday frame. With Christmas Eve falling on a Friday, overall weekend grosses were reduced a bit as moviegoers are traditionally busy with last minute shopping and traveling plus many theaters close early resulting in less showtimes. Four new releases were sprinkled across the top ten while another batch of titles debuted in limited release. Most distributors' Sunday estimates were overly optimistic as final results saw healthy declines. Total box office revenue for the weekend did not reach the dizzying heights of the last two years when Patch Adams and Titanic ruled.
Al Pacino took control of the box office over Christmas weekend with the football saga Any Given Sunday which opened at number one with $13.6M according to final studio figures. Directed by Oliver Stone, the Warner Bros. entry averaged a solid $5,423 per stadium and has grossed $20.6M since its Wednesday kickoff. Any Given Sunday finds Pacino as a veteran coach of a Miami football team trying to keep his squad from destroying itself. Cameron Diaz, Jamie Foxx, Dennis Quaid, James Woods, and L.L. Cool J. also star. Any Given Sunday rushed for maximum yardage and delivered the best opening weekend ever for Stone and for Pacino in a starring role. In fact the $55M pigskin thriller gave Pacino his first number one opening for a starring vehicle since Sea of Love in September 1989. Plus, Any Given Sunday helped Warner Bros. reach a company record $1 billion in box office sales for 1999.
Coming in a close second with only two days of ticket sales was Paramount's The Talented Mr. Ripley which opened on Saturday, Christmas Day, and grossed $12.7M over the weekend. Opening in 2,307 sites, the Matt Damon film scored the best per-theater average in the top ten with $5,522. Ripley was easily North America's number one movie on Saturday and Sunday but with the extra Friday sales, Any Given Sunday finished with the weekend lead by less than one million dollars. Directed by Academy Award winner Anthony Minghella (The English Patient), Ripley stars Jude Law, Gwenyth Paltrow, and Cate Blanchett and has garnered the support of plenty of critics. According to Paramount, the film's budget was in the mid-$30M range and was jointly financed by Miramax. The film's five Golden Globe nominations should keep it a popular title with adult patrons.
Last weekend's top film, Stuart Little, took in another $11.8M in ticket sales in its sophomore frame. Sony's tale of the talking mouse eased 21% from its debut and has collected $39.5M in its trap after ten days. So far, Stuart Little has performed much like last year's animated film The Prince of Egypt which also opened the weekend before Christmas and grossed $40.1M in its first ten days on its way to a $101.3M final.
After originally estimating a $12.5M weekend, Disney reported a $10.4M gross for Toy Story 2 which represents a 15% decrease over last weekend. Toy Story 2 has catapulted itself into the Top 40 among all-time domestic blockbusters with its $177.5M cume. The family film features the voices of Tom Hanks and Tim Allen (who each have live-action movies elsewhere in the top ten) and should shatter the $200M mark next weekend making it the fourth release of 1999 to reach that level. A $250M+ domestic haul for Toy Story 2 seems very likely.
The Green Mile dropped 27% to $9.3M in its third try and was the only picture in the top ten to actually exceed its original weekend estimate. The Tom Hanks death row saga has locked down $53.1M and held up relatively well considering all the new competition for adults.
For the past six years, Jim Carrey's eight releases have all opened at number one at the box office. But every good streak comes to an end. The funnyman's latest picture, Man on the Moon, saw Carrey in a different type of role, in a different type of movie, and generated a different type of gross debuting in sixth place with $7.5M over the Christmas weekend. Directed by Milos Forman (The People vs. Larry Flynt, Amadeus), Man on the Moon launched in 2,079 theaters and averaged a modest $3,615 per site. Since its Wednesday debut, the $52M Andy Kaufman biopic, which was backed with one of the most extensive marketing campaigns of any holiday release, has grossed a mild $12.3M.
Moon failed to eclipse the openings of Jim Carrey's recent hits as it delivered the worst debut performance of any of the comedian's films since hitting it big in 1994. However, the Universal picture has garnered some of the best reviews ever in Carrey's career including Golden Globe nods for Best Picture and Best Actor. Man on the Moon has also made the Ten Best lists of numerous film critics this year. If audiences accept Carrey in this more serious film, then the grosses could stabilize in the weeks ahead making it into a hit. The studio reported that Moon fared well in upscale markets but sales were softer in other areas.
Galaxy Quest, a sci-fi comedy starring Tim Allen and Sigourney Weaver, opened respectably in seventh place with $7M. DreamWorks released the film on Saturday, Christmas Day, so the weekend gross includes only two days of play and not the traditional three. Warping into 2,412 locations, Galaxy Quest averaged a good $2,907 per theater over the two days. When comparing all films by their Saturday-Sunday performance, the $60M space adventure actually ranked sixth overall.
Placing eighth with an audience 18% smaller than last weekend was Bicentennial Man starring Robin Williams with $6.8M. After ten days of release, the expensive Disney picture has grossed $21M and could be heading for a $50-55M final.
Loitering in ninth place was Deuce Bigalow with $5.2M in its third frame. The $18M Rob Schneider comedy has amassed a commendable $34.4M in 17 days. On the other hand, Jodie Foster's $75M period piece Anna and the King slipped 15% from its weak debut last weekend and grossed $4.5M over the Santa frame. After ten days, the Fox title has collected just $13.2M and should finish its domestic reign with $30-35M with hopes that a solid international release will help offset the costly budget.
With all the new Christmas presents in theaters this weekend, a quartet of films fell out of the top ten. The James Bond blockbuster The World Is Not Enough grossed $2.7M in its sixth outing pushing its domestic tally to $111.3M. The $100M MGM/UA franchise picture should end its run with about $120-125M putting it in between 1995's Goldeneye and 1997's Tomorrow Never Dies which enjoyed domestic cumes of $106.4M and $125.3M respectively. Around the globe, World continues to smash records as it surged past its domestic take with hot Christmas openings in Brazil, Mexico, and most of Latin America.
Paramount's Tim Burton pic Sleepy Hollow chopped up another $1.5M raising its total to $89.3M. The $70M thriller should finish its run with about $95M and stands as Johnny Depp's highest-grossing film ever. The Bone Collector spent seven weeks in the top ten and has collected $63.1M to date. The $48M Universal crime pic is set to close its case with roughly $65M.
Arnold Schwarzenegger scared up $1.3M this weekend with End of Days putting its evil total at $60.7M. Universal's $83M devilish thriller looks to end its domestic days with $65-70M. Meanwhile, Buena Vista International is aiming for a bigger score with Christmas openings in Australia, Japan, Thailand, Taiwan, and New Zealand which could push the overseas tally past domestic this weekend.
With the Oscar-qualifying deadline of December 31st rapidly approaching, there was much activity in the limited release world. Girl, Interrupted starring Winona Rider and Angelina Jolie opened in nine theaters in New York, Los Angeles, and Toronto and grossed $95,399. The Sony release averaged a good $10,600 per site, has collected $183,230 since its Tuesday premiere, and expands on January 14th.
Fox Searchlight unveiled the Roman Empire pic Titus, starring Anthony Hopkins, in two theaters on Christmas Day and grabbed $22,313 in only two days.
Robert Carlyle and Emily Watson hit theaters Christmas Day with the drama Angela's Ashes which was based on the best-selling book by Frank McCourt. The Paramount film took in $54,628 in two days in only six theaters giving it a solid $9,105 average over the Saturday-Sunday period. Angela's Ashes widens on January 14th.
Averaging $10,712 per venue in its first weekend was Snow Falling on Cedars from Universal. The critically acclaimed Ethan Hawke romance brought in $32,135 from three theaters and has grossed $51,175 since its Wednesday debut. It expands on January 7th.
Not seeing the same type of success was Play it to the Bone starring Woody Harrelson and Antonio Banderas which opened on Saturday with a two-day gross of just $3,366 from one exclusive Los Angeles theater. Buena Vista goes nationwide on January 14th. The distributor also moved the Tim Robbins-directed film Cradle Will Rock into 38 locations and scored $137,318. Averaging only $3,614 over the holiday weekend, Cradle has upped its cume to $413,381.
Compared to projections, Any Given Sunday opened very close to my $13M forecast. The Talented Mr. Ripley surged ahead of my $7M prediction while Stuart Little was below my $14M projection. Toy Story 2 came in close to my $12M forecast but Man on the Moon did not reach my $15M prediction. Galaxy Quest debuted just one notch above my $6M projection.
Take this week's NEW year-end Reader Survey on your favorite blockbuster of 1999. In last week's survey, readers were asked which recent award-winning film has the best chance of winning the Oscar for Best Picture. Of 1,584 responses, 66% chose American Beauty, 16% picked The Insider, 11% selected Topsy-Turvy, and 7% said Three Kings.
Be sure to read the Weekly Rewind column which looks back at the Christmas box office during this decade. This Wednesday's new column will report on the number one film from each weekend in 1999. For reviews of Man on the Moon, The Talented Mr. Ripley, and Angela's Ashes visit The Chief Report.
Visit the Box Office Guru Holiday Store with over 100 gift ideas on sale for including DVDs, videos, games, music, electronics, and more.
The top ten films over the weekend grossed $88.8M which was down 30% from last year when Patch Adams opened at number one with $25.3M, and down 26% from 1997 when the mighty Titanic ruled the yuletide frame with a record $35M.
Be sure to check back on Thursday for a complete summary, including projections, for next weekend's busy New Years frame which sees the launch of The Hurricane starring Denzel Washington.
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|#||Title||Dec. 24 - 26||Dec. 17 - 19||% Chg.||Theaters||Weeks||AVG||Cumulative||Dist.|
|1||Any Given Sunday||$ 13,584,625||2,505||1||$ 5,423||$ 20,630,471||Warner Bros.|
|2||The Talented Mr. Ripley||12,738,237||2,307||1||5,522||12,738,237||Paramount|
|4||Toy Story 2||10,376,676||12,129,833||-14.5||3,185||6||3,258||177,545,321||Buena Vista|
|5||The Green Mile||9,264,116||12,675,678||-26.9||2,875||3||3,222||53,056,604||Warner Bros.|
|6||Man on the Moon||7,515,585||2,079||1||3,615||12,274,205||Universal|
|8||Bicentennial Man||6,780,948||8,234,926||-17.7||2,767||2||2,451||21,037,489||Buena Vista|
|9||Deuce Bigalow||5,211,199||8,311,252||-37.3||2,162||3||2,410||34,444,936||Buena Vista|
|10||Anna and the King||4,468,421||5,223,416||-14.5||2,132||2||2,096||13,175,277||Fox|
|11||The World Is Not Enough||2,707,694||4,101,449||-34.0||1,712||6||1,582||111,278,273||MGM/UA|
|13||End of Days||1,306,110||3,047,325||-57.1||1,030||5||1,268||60,710,885||Universal|
|14||The Cider House Rules||712,008||331,858||114.6||328||3||2,171||1,375,208||Miramax|
|15||Liberty Heights||377,580||251,424||50.2||111||6||3,402||1,580,170||Warner Bros.|
|17||All About My Mother||310,696||107,894||188.0||92||6||3,377||1,531,150||Sony Classics|
|18||Being John Malkovich||302,111||751,248||-59.8||247||9||1,223||17,307,726||USA|
|19||The Bone Collector||246,690||979,440||-74.8||372||8||663||63,115,060||Universal|
|Top 5||$ 57,779,753||$ 56,459,912||2.3|
This column is updated three times each week : Thursday (upcoming weekend's summary), Sunday (post-weekend analysis with estimates), and Monday night (actuals). Source : EDI, Exhibitor Relations. Opinions expressed in this column are those solely of the author.
Last Updated : December 27 at 10:00PM EST
Written by Gitesh Pandya