"What Lies Beneath" opened better than X-pected to a spirited $30 million, easily evicting "X-Men" from first place.
The R-rated supernatural thriller, co-financed by DreamWorks (which is releasing it domestically) and 20th Century Fox (which is distributing it internationally) arrived to a lively ESTIMATED $30.1 million at 2,813 theaters ($10,700 per theater). Its per-theater average was the highest for any film playing in wide release this weekend.
"Beneath" had appeared likely to materialize in second place based on tracking scores late last week.
"The tracking earlier in the week had us (opening) in the mid-$20 millions," DreamWorks distribution head Jim Tharp said Sunday morning. "So, obviously, we're very pleased with it. I think it's due, primarily, to the popularity of the cast of Harrison Ford and Michelle Pfeiffer and (director) Bob Zemeckis, of course."
Tharp also pointed to the effectiveness of the film's marketing campaign: "I think the trailer was very intriguing. The awareness that was created by the trailer was a very high number. Over a period of time, we received some criticism from people saying we gave away too much. But, obviously, this worked well."
"Beneath" should rank as Zemeckis' best opening: "I think it's Bob's biggest opening. He and I talked last night, going over (his past openings like) 'Back to the Future 2,' which was $27.8 million. 'Forrest Gump' was in the mid-$20 millions. 'Contact' was around $20 million and got to $100 million."
The blockbuster opening for "Beneath" is the latest of many successes this year for DreamWorks. "It's been a fun year for DreamWorks, starting with 'Galaxy Quest' (last holiday season), which did $70 million," Tharp observed. "'American Beauty,' which we brought in for the (Oscar) nominations and awards run, did another $50 million this year. We did $51 million on 'The Road to El Dorado.' We were really pleased with Woody Allen's 'Small Time Crooks.' We're going to get to $17 million on that. 'Road Trip' is close to $70 million. And 'Gladiator' should end up with a little over $180 million. 'Chicken Run' is at $86.2 million after this week, so it should get to a little over $100 million, as well."
Looking at the studio's exit polls for "Beneath," Tharp noted, "We skewed heavily with women - 61% of the audience was female. 64% was over 25. For that primary demographic of women, the excellent and very good (score) ran about 90%. The overall Top Two Boxes was 79% and the overall definite recommend was around 70%."
Directed by Robert Zemeckis, 'What Lies' stars Harrison Ford and Michelle Pfeiffer.
20th Century Fox's "X-Men" took an X-tra big second week drop, falling one slot to second place with a still sizable ESTIMATED $23.7 million (-56%) at 3,101 theaters (+76 theaters; $7,643 per theater). Its cume is approximately $99.5 million.
"It fell 65% on Friday night, but don't forget it opened up to over $20 million (last Friday)," Tom Sherak, 20th Domestic Film Group chairman and senior executive vice president of Fox Filmed Entertainment, said Sunday morning.
"It went up 31% last night from Friday night, which is really good. So we're going to wait until the third weekend before we decide whether it gets to $140 million or $175 million.
"Figure $100 million now, coming off (about) $24 million in box office (this weekend). You figure you can do at least $135-140 million. There's another $35 million left in the movie. If it holds next week, which we think it will, it gets to $160-170 million."
Directed by Bryan Singer and produced by Lauren Shuler Donner and Ralph Winter, "X-Men'" extensive cast is headed by Patrick Stewart, Hugh Jackman and Ian McKellen.
Warner Bros.' opening of its G-rated Japanese animated feature "Pokemon The Movie 2000" was a surprisingly strong power player in third place with a winning ESTIMATED $21.52 million at 2,752 theaters ($7,818 per theater).
The original "Pokemon: The First Movie" opened via Warner Bros. to $31.04 million the weekend of Nov. 12-14, 1999, at 3,043 theaters ($10,199 per theater). Its cume for five days was $50.8 million. At that point, Pokemon fever was running very high.
Insiders note that Warners was smart to get the new "Pokemon" feature into theaters quickly since there seems to be diminishing interest by kids in the Pokemon craze. Sales of Pokemon-related merchandise and toys are said to be down from where they were last fall.
"I think there's no question that 'Pokemon' is not as strong an entity (in terms of toy sales) as it was. But this (opening) gives you an indication that there's still a lot of young Pokemon fans in the marketplace," Warner Bros. Distribution president Dan Fellman said Sunday morning.
"To come in right at the heels of 'X-Men' indicates that there's a lot of things going on out there considering that these are child admissions. Our business really is matinee driven. We have almost no evening business whatsoever. The first one was released in the fall. In the first week, our non-holiday Monday and Tuesday, when the kids were in school, was $1.2 million a day. Now we have the summer, so it will be interesting to see what these next few days do (with kids out of school)."
Dimension Films' R-rated gross-out comedy horror film spoof "Scary Movie" continued to show good legs, falling two rungs in its third week to fourth place with an ESTIMATED $14.9 million (-43%) at 3,301 theaters (+149 theaters; $4,513 per theater). Its cume is approximately $116.3 million.
"It's another great weekend," Miramax senior vice president, marketing David Kaminow said Sunday morning. "We're looking at about $140 million."
If "Scary" breaks $138 million, it will overtake "Good Will Hunting" as the biggest grossing film ever for Miramax or Dimension.
Directed by Keenen Ivory Wayans, it stars Carmen Electra and Shannon Elizabeth.
Warner Bros.' PG-13-rated adventure drama blockbuster "The Perfect Storm" sailed down two ports to fifth place in its fourth week, still making waves with an ESTIMATED $9.5 million (-45%) at 3,203 theaters (-204 theaters; $2,966 per theater). Its cume is approximately $145.2 million, heading for $180 million-plus.
Directed by Wolfgang Petersen, "Storm" stars George Clooney and Mark Wahlberg.
Buena Vista/Disney's PG-rated comedy "Disney's The Kid" dropped one notch to sixth place in its third week with an okay ESTIMATED $7.0 million (-33%) at 2,343 theaters (+23 theaters; $2,989 per theater). Its cume is approximately $42.6 million.
Directed by Jon Turtletaub, it stars Bruce Willis.
Columbia and Centropolis Entertainment's "The Patriot," which was fourth last weekend, tied for seventh place in its fourth week with a quieter ESTIMATED $6.1 million (-43%) at 2,751 theaters (-310 theaters; $2,217 per theater). Its cume is approximately $93.3 million, heading for $115-120 million.
Directed by Roland Emmerich, "Patriot" stars Mel Gibson and Heath Ledger.
Columbia's PG-13-rated youth appeal comedy "Loser" was a box office loser, opening in a tie for seventh place to an ESTIMATED $6.1 million at 2,016 theaters ($3,026 per theater).
Written and directed by Amy Heckerling, it stars Jason Biggs, Mena Suvari and Greg Kinnear.
DreamWorks' G-rated animated feature "Chicken Run" was ninth, down three slots in its fifth week with a less tasty ESTIMATED $4.8 million (-39%) at 2,577 theaters (-376 theaters; $1,863 per theater). Its cume is approximately $86.2 million, heading for $100 million in domestic theaters.
Directed by Peter Lord & Nick Park, "Chicken" features such voices as Mel Gibson and Miranda Richardson.
Rounding out the Top Ten was 20th Century Fox's R-rated Jim Carrey comedy "Me, Myself & Irene," down three rungs in its fifth week with a slow ESTIMATED $3.1 million (-46%) at 2,450 theaters (-400 theaters; $1,265 per theater). Its cume is approximately $83.1 million.
Directed by Peter & Bobby Farrelly ("There's Something About Mary"), "Irene" stars Jim Carrey and Renee Zellweger.
OTHER OPENINGS This weekend also saw the arrival of Warner Bros. and Morgan Creek's PG-13-rated psychological thriller "The In Crowd," which should be in and out of theaters quickly, opening in 12th place to an estimated $1.47 million at 1,357 theaters ($1,083 per theater). Its cume after 5 days is approximately $2.7 million.
Directed by Mary Lambert, it stars Susan Ward, Lori Heuring, Matthew Settle and Nathan Bexton.
USA Films' French drama "Alice Et Martin" opened in New York, placing 25th with an encouraging estimated $22,000 at one theater.
Directed by Andre Techine, it stars Juliette Binoche.
Lions Gate Films' PG-13-rated "The Eyes of Tammy Faye," a documentary about the life of Tammy Faye Baker, opened in New York, placing 26th with a calm estimated $15,000 at 2 theaters ($7,500 per theater).
"We open San Francisco and L.A. this coming week and then it will be a slow roll out through August," Lions Gate co-president Tom Ortenberg said Sunday morning.
SNEAK PREVIEWS There were no national sneak previews this weekend.
EXPANSIONS On the expansion front this weekend, USA Films' director's cut reissue of the R-rated 1984 thriller "Blood Simple" went wider in its third week, placing 18th with an okay estimated $0.17 million (-5 percent) at 56 theaters (+24 theaters; $3,095 per theater). Its cume is approximately $0.5 million.
Directed by Joel Coen and written by Joel Coen and Ethan Coen, it stars John Getz, Frances McDormand, Dan Hedaya, Samm-Art Williams and M. Emmet Walsh.
Artisan Entertainment's R-rated dark comedy "Chuck and Buck" expanded in its second week, placing 21st with a calm estimated $0.13 million at 25 theaters (+18 theaters; $5,220 per theater). Its cume is approximately $0.2 million.
Directed by Miguel Arteta, it stars Mike white and Chris Weitz.
Lions Gate Films' R-rated sex comedy "But I'm A Cheerleader" expanded in its third week, placing 22nd with a quiet estimated $0.12 million at 29 theaters (+17 theaters; $3,966 per theater). Its cume is approximately $0.3 million.
Directed by Jamie Babbit, it stars Natasha Lyonne, Clea Duvall, RuPaul Charles and Cathy Moriarity.
Fine Line Features' R-rated comedy drama "The Five Senses" added theaters in its second week, placing 24th with an okay estimated $42,000 at 6 theaters (+4 theaters; $7,000 per theater). Its cume is approximately $79,000.
Written and directed by Jeremy Podeswa, it stars Mary-Louise Parker and Brendan Fletcher.
WEEKEND COMPARISONS Key films -- those grossing more than $500,000 for the weekend -- took in approximately $135.24 million, up about 4.24 percent from the comparable weekend last year when key films grossed $129.73 million.
This weekend's key film gross was down about 7.62 percent from this year's previous weekend when key films grossed $146.43 million.
Last year, DreamWorks' opening week of "The Haunting" was first with $33.43 million at 2,808 theaters ($11,907 per theater); and Buena Vista's opening week of "Inspector Gadget" was second with $21.89 million at 2,814 theaters ($7,779 per theater). The top two films one year ago grossed $55.3 million. This year, the top two films grossed an estimated $53.8 million.
STUDIO MARKET SHARES Based on business by key films (those grossing $500,000 or more), last weekend's top six distributors were:
DreamWorks was first with three films("What Lies Beneath," "Chicken Run" and "Gladiator"), grossing an estimated $36.0 million or 26.6 percent of the market.
Warner Bros. was second with three films ("Pokemon The Movie 2000," "The Perfect Storm" and "The In Crowd"), grossing an estimated $32.49 million or 24.0 percent of the market.
20th Century Fox was third with three films ("X-Men," "Me, Myself & Irene" and "Big Momma's House"), grossing an estimated $28.5 million or 21.1 percent of the market.
Miramax (Miramax and Dimension) was fourth with one film ("Scary Movie"), grossing an estimated $14.9 million or 11.0 percent of the market.
Sony Pictures Releasing (Columbia and TriStar) was fifth with two films ("The Patriot" and "Loser"), grossing an estimated $12.2 million or 9.0 percent of the market.
Buena Vista (Disney and Touchstone) was sixth with two films("Gone in 60 Seconds" and "Disney's The Kid"), grossing an estimated $8.1 million or 6.0 percent of the market.
ADDITIONAL ESTIMATES (11)Big Momma's House/Fox: Theaters: 1,202 (-441) Gross: $1.7 million (-40 percent) Average per theater: $1,414 Cume: $111.3 million
(12)THE IN CROWD/Warner Bros./Morgan Creek: (See OTHER OPENINGS above)
(13) Mission: Impossible 2/Paramount: Theaters: 1,025 (-684) Gross: $1.3 million (-43 percent) Average per theater: $1,290 Cume: $210.0 million
(14)Shaft/Paramount: Theaters: 1,225 (-522) Gross: $1.1 million (-53 percent) (tie) Average per theater: $915 Cume: $68.0 million
(14)Gone In 60 Seconds/BV: Theaters: 1,042 (-660) Gross: $1.1 million (-55 percent) (tie) Average per theater: $1,083 Cume: $93.5 million
(16)Gladiator/DreamWorks: Theaters: 747 (-287) Gross: $1.06 million (-33 percent) Average per theater: $1,420 Cume: $178.5 million
(17)Adventures of Rocky & Bullwinkle/Universal: Theaters: 1,202 (-1,126) Gross: $0.65 million (-72 percent) Average per theater: $540 Cume: $22.4 million
(18) Blood Simple/USA Films: (See EXPANSIONS above)
(19)The Flintstones in Viva Rock Vegas/Universal: Theaters: 303 (-47) Gross: $0.15 million (-23 percent) Average per theater: $495 Cume: $34.7 million
(20)U-571/Universal: Theaters: 332 (+21) Gross: $0.14 million (-29 percent) Average per theater: $425 Cume: $76.3 million
(21)Chuck & Buck/Artisan: (See EXPANSIONS above)
(22)But I'm A Cheerleader/Lions Gate: (See EXPANSIONS above)
(23)Erin Brockovich/Universal: Theaters: 173 (-29) Gross: $0.1 million (-28 percent) Average per theater: $550 Cume: $125.3 million
(24)The Five Senses/Fine Line: (See EXPANSIONS above)
(25)ALICE AND MARTIN/USA Films: (See OTHER OPENINGS above)
(26)THE EYES OF TAMMY FAYE/Lions Gate: (See OTHER OPENINGS above)