The Scorpion King kept its box office crown despite dropping 51 percent to $17.6 million.
Changing Lanes held fast in second place with $9 million. Life Or Something Like It opened third to a not so lively $6.7 million. Jason X scared up $6.5 million to open fourth. Murder by Numbers claimed fifth place with $6.3 million.
With only King really driving the marketplace, key films -- those grossing $500,000 or more -- totaled $76.4 million, up nearly 22 percent from last year's $62.6 million. Business fell by about 22 percent from the previous weekend's $98.1 million.
Looking ahead, distribution executives are anticipating that Columbia's kickoff of Spider-Man this Friday (May 3) will generate huge opening weekend grosses. Most insiders expect an opening of at least $70 million and some are speculating about $80 million in ticket sales for the film's first three days.
Between the current success of Scorpion King, the anticipated strength of Spider-Man and the expected blockbuster launch May 16 of 20th Century Fox and Lucasfilm's Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones, the pre-summer should provide Hollywood with a sizzling start to the traditional summer season.
THE TOP TEN
Universal's PG-13 rated adventure spinoff The Scorpion King in association with World Wrestling Federation Entertainment and Alphaville was number one again in its second week, still flexing its box office muscles with an ESTIMATED $17.57 million (-51%) at 3,449 theaters (+ 5 theaters; $5,095 per theater). Its cume is approximately $60.8 million, heading for $100 million in domestic theaters.
Scorpion's average per theater was the highest for any film playing in wide release this weekend.
"To have $60 million in 10 days is something to celebrate," Universal distribution president Nikki Rocco said Sunday morning.
"I think the (marketing) strategy was right. The opening date was right. And now we'll probably coast, hopefully, to $100 million."
What Universal has established, Rocco added, "is that you can take a film that has high visibility and open it any time of the year and have excellent results. Scorpion King is such a huge success for our studio. It's going to be profitable. We launched a new charismatic star (The Rock). We launched a new release date (mid-April) for this type of event film. It was the launch of a new franchise and it could be done off-season. If this is any indication, the industry is in for a gangbuster summer. There are a lot of high profile films and that's good for the business."
Paramount's R rated road rage drama Changing Lanes held at a steady speed in second place in its third week with an ESTIMATED $9.0 million (-19%) at 2,642 theaters (theater count unchanged; $3,407 per theater). Its cume is approximately $44.5 million.
Directed by Roger Michell, it stars Ben Affleck and Samuel L Jackson.
"It's (on its way domestically to) $65-70 million, I think," Paramount distribution president Wayne Lewellen said Sunday morning. "It's holding very well. It goes back to (the idea that) when you don't have a lot of product coming into the marketplace, whatever is there gets an opportunity to breathe. We'll see what happens this weekend with Spider-Man. We should be a good alternative to that."
20th Century Fox's opening of Regency Enterprises' PG-13 rated drama Life Or Something Like It was an uneventful third with an ESTIMATED $6.65 million at 2,606 theaters ($2,552 per theater).
Directed by Stephen Herek, it stars Angelina Jolie and Edward Burns.
New Line Cinema's R rated horror genre sequel Jason X
kicked off in fourth place to a solid ESTIMATED $6.5 million at 1,878 theaters ($3,461 per theater).
Directed by Jim Isaac, it stars Kane Hodder.
"It was in the range of our expectations," New Line distribution president David Tuckerman said Sunday morning.
Noting that the picture was not an expensive negative, Tuckerman pointed out, "We don't have to do very much to break even."
Asked who the audience was, Tuckerman said, "It's under 25, that's for sure. And I saw with my own eyes the other night, it looks pretty close to being 50-50 between men and women."
Castle Rock Entertainment's Murder by Numbers fell two pegs to fifth place in its second week via Warner Bros. with a quiet ESTIMATED $6.31 million (-32%) at 2,663 theaters (theater count unchanged; $2,370 per theater). Its cume is approximately $18.3 million.
Directed by Barbet Schroeder, it stars Sandra Bullock.
Buena Vista/Disney's G rated family appeal baseball drama The Rookie slid two bases to place sixth in its fifth week with a still strong ESTIMATED $5.4 million (-16%) at 2,543 theaters (+36 theaters; $2,128 per theater). Its cume is approximately $60.6 million.
Directed by John Lee Hancock, it stars Dennis Quaid.
20th Century Fox's PG rated animated feature Ice Age fell one notch to seventh place in its seventh week, still holding nicely with an ESTIMATED $4.63 million (-22%) at 2,594 theaters (-226 theaters; $1,782 per theater). Its cume is approximately $165.4 million, heading for $175 million or more in domestic theaters.
Directed by Chris Wedge, it features the voices of Ray Romano, John Leguizamo and Denis Leary.
Columbia's R rated thriller Panic Room slipped three rungs to eighth place in its fifth week, holding okay with an ESTIMATED $4.2 million (-30%) at 2,463 theaters (-362 theaters; $1,705 per theater). Its cume is approximately $87.7 million, on its way to $90 million-plus in domestic theaters.
Directed by David Fincher, it stars Jodie Foster.
20th Century Fox and Regency Enterprises' PG-13 rated thriller High Crimes dropped one level to ninth place in its fourth week with a calm ESTIMATED $3.01 million (-23%) at 2,060 theaters (-349 theaters; $1,460 per theater). Its cume is approximately $35.0 million, heading for $40 million.
Directed by Carl Franklin, it stars Ashley Judd and Morgan Freeman.
Rounding out the Top Ten was Columbia's R rated romantic comedy The Sweetest Thing, down three notches in its third week with an unsweetened ESTIMATED $2.9 million (-43%) at 2,124 theaters (-646 theaters; $1,365 per theater). Its cume is approximately $21.2 million.
Directed by Roger Kumble, it stars Cameron Diaz, Christina Applegate and Selma Blair.
This weekend also saw the arrival of Castle Rock Entertainment's R rated thriller The Salton Sea via Warner Bros., making waves at 15 theaters with an ESTIMATED $0.175 million ($11,700 per theater).
Directed by DJ Caruso, it stars Val Kilmer, Vincent D'Onofrio, Doug Hutchison and Peter Sarsgaard.
"We had a good opening with Salton Sea," Warner Bros. Distribution president Dan Fellman said Sunday morning. "Our number one gross was the Archlight (in Hollywood), which in two days grossed $30,000. The Criterion in Santa Monica grossed $18,300. It's off to a good start and we'll see (where it) goes from here. We're going to add a few more cities on May 10 and some more on May 17."
Sony Pictures Classics' PG-13 skateboarding film Dogtown and Z-Boys kicked off at 20 theaters to an energetic ESTIMATED $0.11 million ($5,263 per theater).
Directed by Stacy Peralta, it is narrated by Sean Penn.
There were no national sneak previews this weekend.
On the expansion front this weekend IFC Films' unrated erotic drama Y Tu Mama Tambien went wider in its seventh week with an ESTIMATED $1.0 million (even) at 283 theaters (+42 theaters; $3,525 per theater). Its cume is approximately $7.2 million.
Directed by Alfonso Cuaron, it stars Maribel Verdu, Gael Garcia Bernal and Diego Luna.
USA Films' R rated romantic comedy Monsoon Wedding added theaters in its 10th week with a still tempting ESTIMATED $0.79 million (+7%) at 239 theaters (+50 theaters; $3,295 per theater). Its cume is approximately $8.2 million.
Directed by Mira Nair, it was produced by Nair and Caroline Baron.
IFC Films' PG rated romantic comedy My Big Fat Greek Wedding expanded in its second week with a bigger and fatter ESTIMATED $0.74 million (+24%) at 141 theaters ($5,265 per theater). Its cume is approximately $1.6 million.
Directed by Joel Zwick, it stars Nia Vardalos and John Corbett.
Lions Gate Films PG-13 rated comedy thriller The Cat's Meow expanded in its third week to a hopeful ESTIMATED $0.47 million at 135 theaters (+124 theaters; $3,445 per theater). Its cume is approximately $0.75 million.
Directed by Peter Bogdanovich, it stars Kirsten Dunst, Eddie Izzard, Edward Herrmann, Cary Elwes, Joanna Lumley and Jennifer Tilly.
Paramount Classics' PG-13 rated romantic comedy The Triumph of Love went wider in its second week with a slow ESTIMATED $82,000 at 46 theaters (+28 theaters; $1,790 per theater). Its cume is approximately $0.17 million.
Directed by Clare Peploe, it stars Mira Sorvino, Fiona Shaw, Jay Rodan, Rachael Stirling and Ben Kingsley.
Universal's international division reported Sunday morning that About A Boy opened in first place in the U.K. to a terrific $3.9 million for two days on 433 playdates. The film captured a 34 percent share of the U.K. market, performing 20 percent ahead of the studio's past hit Notting Hill and 22 percent ahead of its current hit Ali G Inda House.
The Scorpion King opened in 23 more countries this weekend. Among the film's early results:
In Germany it opened number one with $1.3 million on 668 playdates its first three days.
In Italy it got off to a strong start opening on Wednesday with a holiday on Thursday. In its first two days, it grossed $443,000 on 230 playdates.
In the Netherlands it opened in first place with $225,000 on 84 playdates.
In Spain it opened to $636,000 on 289 playdates in its first two days.
King was number one in Argentina with $43,000 on 50 playdates. It was first in Brazil with $535,000 on 187 playdates, a 36 percent share of the market. In Mexico it finished first with $920,000 on 303 playdates, also a 36 percent market share.
King also enjoyed success in holdover situations. In Australia, it grossed $650,000 on 191 playdates, down 35% from its opening. It ranked second to the opening of We Were Soldiers with $1.0 million on 195 playdates.
In the U.K., King grossed $1.0 million (-32%) on 407 playdates. It was third in the market, behind About A Boy and Bend it Like Beckham, which grossed $1.3 million (-35%) on 395 playdates.
Ali G Inda House, Universal's latest film from Working Title, was 14th in its sixth week of release in the U.K. Its Friday-Saturday gross was $90,000 on 147 playdates. Its cume after 37 days is $14.3 million.
Forty Days and Forty Nights, which Universal is releasing internationally, opened in Australia last Thursday to an outstanding $600,000 on 150 playdates. It moved up one rung to third place Saturday.
E.T. opened Saturday in Japan to an estimated $395,000. Japan is celebrating its Golden Week holiday, which is expected to have a good effect at the box office.
Key films -- those grossing more than $500,000 -- took in approximately $76.36 million, up about 21.98 percent from last year when they totaled $62.6 million.
Key films this weekend were down about 22.19 percent from the previous weekend of this year's total of $98.13 million.
Last year, Warner Bros. and Franchise Films' opening week of Driven was first with $12.17 million at 2,905 theaters ($4,191 per theater); and Miramax and Universal's third week of Bridget Jones's Diary was second with $7.53 million at 2,532 theaters ($2,973 per theater). The top two films one year ago grossed $19.7 million. This year, the top two films grossed an ESTIMATED $26.6 million.
American Pie 2 enjoyed the weekend's sweetest slice of box office pie.
Universal launched its R rated youth appeal comedy sequel Pie 2 in first place to a record setting ESTIMATED $45.1 million at 3,063 theaters ($14,724 per theater).
Pie 2's average per theater was the highest for any film playing in wide release this weekend.
Directed by J.B. Rogers, it stars Jason Biggs, Shannon Elizabeth, Alyson Hannigan, Chris Klein, Natasha Lyonne, Thomas Ian Nicholas, Tara Reid, Seann William Scott, Mena Suvari, Eddie Kaye Thomas and Eugene Levy.
"The first one opened to $18.7 million," Universal distribution president Nikki Rocco said Sunday morning, referring to the original American Pie, which after its July 9, 1999 launch went on to gross $102.7 million in domestic theaters.
Now with the sequel's blockbuster opening, Rocco said, "With Friday's business, Universal became the number one (distributor in terms of domestic) market share for the year. We've been number one for the summer. We became number one for the year. We're well over $600 million in domestic box office grosses as of now."
Rocco also pointed to a number of records set by Pie 2: "This picture is the biggest R rated comedy. It's the second highest opening for an R rated film ever, just behind our own Hannibal (in which Universal was partnered with MGM). It's the third biggest comedy ever (of any type), not just R rated. It's the fourth movie that Universal has opened consecutively to over $40 million. Our records show that no other studio has done that twice in a row. And it's the fourth number one movie in a row for Universal."
Universal's outstanding success this year includes its first place openings of The Mummy Returns the weekend of May 4-6 to $68.1 million, The Fast and the Furious the weekend of June 22-24 to $40.1 million, Jurassic Park III the weekend of July 20-22 to $50.8 million (and a five day cume of $81.4 million) and now Pie 2 with an ESTIMATED $45.1 million.
Focusing on the sequel's profitability, Rocco observed, "It made back more than its production cost, which was $30 million."
All told, she added, "I'm delighted with the results of this picture. This is our own home grown franchise and it's so exciting that audiences were anxious to revisit characters that they fell in love with for the first time."
Rocco said that the studio's exit polls for Pie 2 were outstanding, showing that its audience was 53 percent female and 47 percent male. "67 percent of the audience was under the age of 25, as expected," she said. "For that core audience, the Top Two Boxes (excellent and very good) scored 94 percent. Overall, it scored 90 percent in the Top Two Boxes. For the core audience, the definite recommend was 73 percent against a norm of 50 percent. Overall, the definite recommend was 69 percent, which is fabulous."
New Line Cinema's PG-13 rated action comedy blockbuster sequel Rush Hour 2 dropped one rung to second place in its second week with a still impressive ESTIMATED $31.48 million (-53%) at 3,118 theaters ($10,095 per theater). Its cume is approximately $131.9 million, heading for $175-200 million.
Directed by Brett Ratner, it stars Jackie Chan and Chris Tucker.
Buena Vista/Disney's G rated family comedy The Princess Diaries held on to third place in its second week with a still royal ESTIMATED $14.1 million (-38%) at 2,706 theaters (+169 theaters; $5,211 per theater). Its cume is approximately $51.9 million, heading for $85-100 million.
Directed by Garry Marshall, it stars Julie Andrews and Anne Hathaway.
Dimension Films' opened its PG-13 thriller The Others in fourth place to a promising ESTIMATED $13.67 million at 1,678 theaters ($8,147 per theater).
Directed by Alejandro Amenabar, it stars Nicole Kidman.
"We'll be in profit by the end of the week on this one. It was made for $17 million all-in," Miramax L.A. president Mark Gill said Sunday morning. "Cruise/Wagner did a brilliant job creatively and economically. I think Nicole Kidman becomes a serious Oscar contender after the great reviews she got. So we're excited about that."
Asked about Kidman's prospects as an awards contender, Gill added, "She's just gotten astonishingly great reviews, so I think there's almost no doubt she'll be a serious Oscar contender."
Given the film's strong opening, Gill said, "We're on about a thousand screens less than everybody else, so we'll about 500 more this coming week. At $8,147 a screen, (exhibitors) will be ringing our phones (asking for prints of The Others)."
Did all the media attention Kidman's been getting as the result of her divorce from Tom Cruise hurt or help the film's opening? "There's no doubt that publicity gets attention," Gill replied. "But the key to this, of course, is you can all the attention in the world, but if people don't like what they're seeing they don't go. So the movie had to deliver and the advertising had to look like it was presenting a good movie. Mercifully, all that was true.
"The movie is fantastic. It reminds me a lot of Hitchcock movies. But, you know, pick your favorite influence. It's more psychological than it is anything else. As a consequence, it's, I think, better and scarier not to rely on blood and gore. It gets you there in other ways. The Spanish director Alejandro Amenabar brought a ton of style to it. It's a really great movie."
20th Century Fox's PG-13 sci-fi action adventure Planet of the Apes fell three pegs to fifth place in its third week with a quieter ESTIMATED $13.32 million (-52%) at 3,405 theaters (-125 theaters; $3,910 per theater). Its cume is approximately $148.7 million, heading for $175-180 million in domestic theaters.
Directed by Tim Burton and produced by Richard D. Zanuck, it stars Mark Wahlberg, Tim Roth, Helena Bonham Carter and Michael Clarke Duncan.
Universal and Amblin Entertainment's PG-13 rated action adventure fantasy sequel Jurassic Park III slipped two notches to sixth place in its fourth week with a still impressive ESTIMATED $7.3 million (-41%) at 3,175 theaters (-287 theaters; $2,299 per theater). Its cume is approximately $160.2 million, heading for $175 million or more in domestic theaters.
Directed by Joe Johnston, JP III stars Sam Neill, William H. Macy, Tea Leoni, Alessandro Nivola, Trevor Morgan, Michael Jeter, John Diehl and Bruce A. Young.
Warner Bros.' PG rated comedy Osmosis Jones kicked off in seventh place to a calm ESTIMATED $5.58 million at 2,305 theaters ($2,419 per theater).
Directed by Peter Farrelly & Bobby Farrelly, it stars Chris Rock, Laurence Fishburne, David Hyde Pierce, Brandy Norwood, William Shatner, Molly Shannon, Chris Elliott and Bill Murray.
Revolution Studios and Columbia Pictures' PG-13 rated romantic comedy America's Sweethearts slid three slots to eighth place in its fourth week with a less romantic ESTIMATED $4.6 million (-43%) at 2,686 theaters (-325 theaters; $1,713 per theater). Its cume is approximately $83.4 million, heading for $100 million in domestic theaters.
Directed by Joe Roth, it stars Julia Roberts, Billy Crystal, Catherine Zeta-Jones and John Cusack.
MGM's PG-13 rated comedy hit Legally Blonde fell two rungs to ninth place in its fifth week with a still attractive ESTIMATED $3.82 million (-35%) at 2,031 theaters (+505 theaters; $1,881 per theater).
Blonde, which cost only $18 million to produce, has a cume of approximately $78.7 million and is on its way to a very profitable $85 million in domestic theaters.
Directed by Robert Luketic, the Marc Platt production stars Reese Witherspoon, Luke Wilson, Selma Blair, Matthew Davis, Victor Garber and Jennifer Coolidge with a special appearance by Raquel Welch.
Rounding out the Top Ten was MGM's R rated thriller Original Sin, down four pegs in its second week with a slow ESTIMATED $3.05 million (-52%) at 2,194 theaters ($1,391 per theater). Its cume is approximately $12.49 million.
Written and directed by Michael Christofer, it stars Antonio Banderas and Angelina Jolie.
This weekend also saw the arrival of Dimension Films' new expanded version of its PG rated youth appeal action comedy Spy Kids Special Edition with an unfunny ESTIMATED $1.43 million at 1,676 theaters ($851 per theater). Its cume (including its original run, which began with its $26.5 million opening the weekend of Mar. 30 - Apr. 1) is approximately $109.0 million.
Directed by Robert Rodriguez, it stars Antonio Banderas and Carla Gugino.
"Video and DVD are coming up in September so this was sort of the pre-amble to that," Miramax L.A. president Mark Gill said Sunday morning. (Dimension is a unit of Miramax Films, which is owned by Disney.)
Fox Searchlight Pictures R rated thriller The Deep End kicked off to a very encouraging ESTIMATED $0.14 million at 6 theaters ($23,415 per theater) in Los Angeles and New York. Its cume after five days is approximately $0.2 million.
Written produced and directed by Scott McGehee and David Siegel, it stars Tilda Swinton, Goran Visnjic and Jonathan Tucker.
"That's significantly higher than our excellent opening on Sexy Beast (earlier this summer), which was $18,009 per theater," Fox Searchlight distribution president Stephen Gilula said Sunday morning. "We'll be adding theaters this week, both expanding in New York and L.A. and another nine markets, so we'll go up to over 50 theaters by this Friday. And we have an expansion the following week, which will take us up to around 200 theaters."
Focusing on the promising kick off for Deep, Gilula noted, "We're very, very excited. It just shows, again, that there's a really avid moviegoing audience in the summertime for alternative, thoughtful movies in addition to the mega-movies. When the critics embrace a film, as they did with this--particularly with Tilda Swinton's performance--the crowds have come. It's a crowded marketplace (this summer) with the sheer number of films opening, so (our marketing department, under Nancy Utley) did a great job of getting the word out.
"It's actually been, I think, a fairly good summer (for specialized films), going back to Anniversary Party and Sexy Beast and then The Closet and Made and now The Deep End. There really is an alternative audience in the summertime that is looking for this type of product."
Gilula added that Beast in its ninth weekend did about $198,000 at 29 theaters, "which takes it to $5,964,500, which means we'll cross $6 million by Wednesday or Thursday. That's a tremendous result for us. It's also the number one limited release film for the summer."
USA Films' R rated sci-fi thriller Session 9 arrived to a quiet ESTIMATED $0.083 million at 30 theaters ($2,750 per theater).
Directed by Brad Anderson, it stars David Caruso, Peter Mullan, Brendan Sexton III, Steven Gevedon and Josh Lucas.
Paramount Classics' PG-13 rated drama An American Rhapsody opened to a drab ESTIMATED $0.042 million at 7 theaters ($6,000 per theater).
Written and Directed by Eva Gardos, it stars Nastassja Kinski, Scarlett Johansson and Tony Goldwyn.
Paramount held sneak previews Saturday night of its PG-13 comedy Rat Race.
Directed by Jerry Zucker, it stars Rowan Atkinson, John Cleese, Whoopi Goldberg, Cuba Gooding, Jr., Seth Green, Jon Lovitz, Breckin Meyer and Amy Smart.
"The sneaks were about 60 percent capacity," Paramount distribution president Wayne Lewellen said Sunday morning. "There were 1,012 sneaks. We had 700 locations that had two sneaks, so you can say we effectively had 1,700 sneaks. The capacities at the later sneaks (at 10:30 p.m.) were only around 35 percent (given the later hour). The index score from the exit polls was 78, which is very good. I (don't yet have) the full exit polls, but I know it was 50-50 male-female."
Asked about the index score, Lewellen explained, "That is the result of the combination of checking the boxes (on the exit poll forms). It's an average. Anything over 70 or 71 is a very good response. Like, Forrest Gump got an 81, as an example. It's a very good score."
Lewellen said he anticipates that the film will play to a family audience.
Race opens this Friday (Aug. 17), Lewellen said, at "about 2,500 locations and probably 2,800 screens or so."
On the expansion front, this weekend saw Miramax's R rated French comedy The Closet go wider in its seventh week with an okay ESTIMATED $0.43 million (+5%) at 145 theaters (+17 theaters; $2,975 per theater). Its cume is approximately $4.0 million.
Directed by Francis Veber, it stars Daniel Auteuil, Gerard Depardieu, Thierry Lhermitte and Michele Laroque.
Artisan's R rated comedy Made widened in its fifth week with a dull ESTIMATED $0.4 million at 128 theaters (+11 theaters; $3,125 per theater). Its cume is approximately $3.0 million.
Written and directed by Jon Favreau, it stars Jon Favreau, Vince Vaughn, Sean Combs, Famke Janssen, Faizon Love and Peter Falk.
Miramax's R rated Apocalypse Now Redux widened in its second week with a still promising ESTIMATED $0.35 million at 19 theaters (+17 theaters; $19,323 per theater). Its cume is approximately $0.53 million.
Directed by Francis Ford Coppola, it stars Marlon Brando, Robert Duvall, Martin Sheen, Laurence Fishburne, Dennis Hopper and Harrison Ford.
MGM's release of United Artists' R rated youth appeal comedy Ghost World widened in its fourth week with a still lively ESTIMATED $0.35 million (+1%) at 34 theaters (+11 theaters; $10,294 per theater). Its cume is approximately $1.3 million.
Directed by Terry Swigoff, it stars Thora Birch, Scarlett Johansson, Brad Renfro, Illeana Douglas and Steve Buscemi.
Fine Line Features' R rated rock musical drama Hedwig and the Angry Inch added a few theaters in its fourth week with a still hopeful ESTIMATED $0.26 million (-9%) at 50 theaters (+4 theaters; $5,180 per theater). Its cume is approximately $1.2 million.
Directed by John Cameron Mitchell, who also wrote adapted his hit Off-Broadway play to the screen, Hedwig stars Mitchell in its title role.
Key films--those grossing more than $500,000--took in approximately $150.17 million, up about 47.89 per cent from the comparable weekend last year when key films grossed $101.54 million.
This weekend's key film gross was down about 9.51 per cent from last weekend this year when key films took in $165.94 million.
Last year, Sony's second week of Hollow Man was first with $13.05 million at 2,956 theaters ($4,414 per theater); and Warner Bros.' second week of Space Cowboys was second with $13.02 million at 2,835 theaters ($4,591 per theater). The top two films one year ago grossed $26.0 million. This year, the top two films grossed an ESTIMATED $76.6 million.