Weekend Box Office (December 29, 2000 - January 1, 2001)

THIS WEEKEND With another box office year coming to an end, moviegoers spent heavily over New Year's weekend as overall ticket sales climbed even higher than last weekend's holiday tally. The top ten looked mostly the same since no new films have opened in wide release since Christmas Day.

The island adventure Cast Away topped the box office charts for the second weekend in a row with $40M over the four-day holiday weekend, according to final studio figures. Fox added 155 theaters and averaged a muscular $13,670 per location. After only eleven days of release, Cast Away has grossed a staggering $109.7M. The Robert Zemeckis-directed film has become the fastest Tom Hanks picture (excluding animated releases) to cross the $100M mark beating 1998's Saving Private Ryan which needed 17 days.

The runnerup spot once again went to Hollywood heavyweight Mel Gibson whose romantic comedy What Women Want collected another $26.4M. The Paramount release has grossed a stellar $115.8M after just 18 days and is on course to become the action hero's top grossing picture ever.

The combined strength of Cast Away and What Women Want has been the driving force behind the late-year box office surge which will allow the year to beat 1999's record gross. The two hits have also become notable achievements for the talent involved. Cast Away has become the ninth live-action film for Hanks to reach the $100M mark and the seventh for Zemeckis. What Women Want is the seventh such blockbuster for Gibson. Helen Hunt, who stars in both pictures, now has four $100M smashes to her credit. For the year 2000, nineteen releases have reached the milestone with a small handful of other December titles having a chance to join the club later.

Warner Bros. claimed the third spot with the comedy Miss Congeniality which took in $19.2M in its second weekend. The Sandra Bullock film rose two spots from last weekend and experienced a healthy 39% improvement over its Christmas weekend debut. After eleven days, Miss Congeniality has brought in $46.4M and is on its way to becoming Bullock's highest-grossing film since 1996's A Time To Kill which collected $108.8M.

The Family Man starring Nicolas Cage ranked fourth with $16.7M over four days, down a notch from last weekend. After eleven days, the Universal release has banked a good $43.1M.

With kids on vacation, Disney's animated comedy The Emperor's New Groove saw a strong 53% spike in sales and grossed $14.7M in its third frame. Up a spot from Christmas weekend, the G-rated film has lifted its 18-day tally to an impressive $50.8M.

Universal's holiday smash How The Grinch Stole Christmas dropped a couple of spots to sixth with $9M. With its namesake holiday now history, the Jim Carrey blockbuster suffered the biggest decline among all wide releases however its cume still climbed to an astronomical $253.4M putting it at number 14 on the all-time domestic blockbuster list.

Despite a tremendous fourth-quarter resurgence by Universal, Buena Vista ended the year 2000 as the market share leader for the third consecutive time. Disney finished the year with roughly $11M more in ticket sales than Universal with both distributors grossing about $1.1 billion each. Universal, however, had less movies in release and spent less on marketing making its showing, which was a company record, even more impressive. In the annual market share race, the rest of Hollywood's top distributors should finish the year in the following order : Warner Bros., Paramount, DreamWorks, Fox, Sony, Miramax, New Line, and MGM/UA.

Sony's action-thriller Vertical Limit followed in seventh with $8.3M giving it $51.9M to date. The horror entry Dracula 2000 took a hit and grossed $7.3M giving the Miramax title $21.6M in eleven days. The teen comedy Dude, Where's My Car took ninth with $5.8M in its third weekend giving the Fox film $35.6M in 18 days.

After the disappointing performance of The Legend of Bagger Vance, Matt Damon suffered another setback with the weak debut of the romantic drama All The Pretty Horses. Released by Miramax, the western tale collected only $4.9M in its first full four-day weekend giving it a poor $9M since its Monday debut. Horses averaged a feeble $3,140 over four days indicating a rough road ahead.

Arthouse sensation Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon took in a stellar $4.5M from just 162 sites and upped its cume to an amazing $13.5M from limited play.

A number of acclaimed films made their mark in limited release. Finding Forrester with Sean Connery collected $3M from 200 theaters for a sparkling $15,100 average. With a $5.3M cume to date, the Gus Van Sant picture will widen on January 12. Steven Soderbergh's award-winning drug tale Traffic opened with $250,580 from four theaters for a towering $62,645 average. Its total since Wednesday is $371,664 and USA Films will expand the picture next weekend into about 1,500 theaters.

The New Line release Thirteen Days with Kevin Costner grossed $182,650 from eight sites for a superb $22,831 average.  Like many films currently in limited release, the Cuban missile crisis thriller goes nationwide on January 12. Shadow of the Vampire brought in $150,171 for Lions Gate and a solid $25,029 average in six venues. The distributor will wait until January 26 to widen the picture.

The top ten films grossed a colossal $152.3M over the four-day New Year's weekend which was up from last year's three-day frame when Stuart Little reclaimed the top spot with $16M; and up from 1998's three-day session when Patch Adams remained at number one with $19.1M.

Take this week's NEW Reader Survey on whether The Grinch will reach $300M in domestic grosses. In last week's survey, readers were asked if they were happy with the choice of Steve Martin as Oscar host. Of 1,864 responses, 84% said yes while 16% voted no.

Read the Weekly Rewind column on the Christmas weekend box office of 1992. For reviews of Cast Away, What Women Want, and The Family Man visit The Chief Report.

Be sure to check back on Thursday for a complete summary, including projections, for next weekend when Traffic opens nationwide.

Happy New Year to all the readers of BoxOfficeGuru.com!

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Last Updated : January 2 at 9:30PM EST

Written by Gitesh Pandya