"The Wedding Planner" marched down theater aisles this weekend, celebrating in first place with $14 million.
The PG-13-rated romantic comedy from Columbia Pictures and Intermedia Films easily captured the top spot on Super Bowl Weekend with a sexy ESTIMATED $14.0 million at 2,785 theaters ($5,027 per theater).
"Planner" had the highest per-theater average for any film playing in over 1,000 theaters last weekend.
"Great news for us this weekend," Sony Pictures Entertainment worldwide marketing & distribution president Jeff Blake said Sunday morning, noting that Sony had four of the top ten films ("Planner," "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon," "Finding Forrester" and "Snatch").
"$14 million is allowing for an over 50% drop on Sunday because we (should) do a little better than the rest of the world (against) the Super Bowl," Blake explained. "We got a real clear mix of an audience. It was almost evenly divided under-25 and over-25 and clearly a large part of the under-25 crowd was driven by Jennifer Lopez, who couldn't be hotter right now with both her album and now her No. 1 movie. I think, certainly, the attraction of the over-25 crowd was that this is also a very romantic movie and Jennifer Lopez and Matthew McConaughey make a very romantic couple. I think that will be a key as we go forward into February. I think we look like the romantic choice for the next couple of weeks through Valentine's Day."
Sony is very pleased, Blake noted, with the opening of "Planner," which is "a co-production between Columbia and Intermedia. Columbia has all domestic rights and Intermedia is selling the foreign territories. The negative cost is $28 million, so this is one we can really do well on."
Directed by Adam Shankman, "Planner" stars Jennifer Lopez and Matthew McConaughey.
Paramount's PG-13-rated teen appeal drama "Save the Last Dance" from MTV Films fell one slot to second place in its third week with an okay ESTIMATED $10.00 million (-35%) at 2,561 theaters (+22 theaters; $3,905 per theater). Its cume is approximately $59.5 million.
"I think it gets to around $80 million (in domestic theaters)," Paramount distribution president Wayne Lewellen said Sunday morning. "We're assuming like everyone else that we get a pretty good hit (from the Super Bowl) today, or at least we don't hold up as well.
"It basically hurts everything pretty well. But the female-oriented stuff seems to hold up a little better. And by that I mean, maybe we're down 50% to 60% over yesterday (Saturday), whereas the male-oriented stuff will be down 70%-80% over yesterday."
Directed by Thomas Carter, "Save the Last Dance" stars Julia Stiles and Sean Patrick Thomas.
20th Century Fox's PG-13-rated drama "Cast Away" slid one peg to third place in its sixth week, still holding well with an ESTIMATED $8.94 million (-20%) at 2,890 theaters (-171 theaters; $3,092 per theater). Its cume is approximately $194.1 million, heading for $215 million-plus in domestic theaters.
"We had a heck of a weekend," Fox distribution executive vice president, sales Rick Myerson said Sunday morning. "Off only 20%. It will probably go a little bit north of $215 million and you can't tell (yet) what happens with Academy Awards. That's sensational."
After winning the Golden Globe for best actor/drama, Tom Hanks is a likely best actor Oscar nominee for "Cast Away."
Directed by Robert Zemeckis, "Cast Away" stars Tom Hanks and Helen Hunt.
USA Films' R-rated Oscar contender drama "Traffic" dropped one rung to fourth place in its fifth week, still showing great legs with an ESTIMATED $6.49 million (-24%) at 1,580 theaters (+9 theaters; $4,105 per theater). Its cume is approximately $56.3 million.
"Traffic," which won Golden Globes for best screenplay (Stephen Gaghan) and best supporting actor (Benicio Del Toro), is considered a likely contender in the Oscar race. Its director, Steven Soderbergh, is a Directors Guild nominee for both "Traffic" and "Erin Brockovich."
Directed by Steven Soderbergh, "Traffic" stars Michael Douglas, Don Cheadle, Benicio Del Toro, Dennis Quaid and Catherine Zeta-Jones.
New Line's opening of its PG-13-rated youth appeal cheerleaders drama "Sugar & Spice" placed fifth with a not-so-spicy ESTIMATED $6.03 million at 2,150 theaters ($2,802 per theater).
Insiders had been anticipating a more exciting launch in the area of $8 million for "Spice," given word that it was flying higher on the Hollywood radar screen.
Directed by Francine McDougall, it stars Marla Sokoloff, Marley Shelton, Melissa George and Mena Suvari.
Sony Pictures Classics continued to expand its critically-acclaimed PG-13-rated action adventure "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon," which rose two slots to sixth place in its eighth week with a very encouraging ESTIMATED $5.1 million (-16%) at 869 theaters (+32 theaters; $5,846 per theater). Its cume is approximately $44.5 million.
"Tiger," which won Golden Globes for best director (Ang Lee) and best foreign language film, is considered a likely contender in the Oscar race. Lee is a DGA nominee.
Directed by Ang Lee, "Dragon" stars Michelle Yeoh and Chow Yun-Fat.
Columbia Pictures' PG-13-rated drama "Finding Forrester," which was sixth last week, tied for seventh place in its sixth week, holding well considering the weekend's Super Bowl competition with an ESTIMATED $4.8 million (-28%) at 2,002 theaters (theater count unchanged; $2,398 per theater). Its cume is approximately $35.9 million.
"It continues to hang in there," Sony's Blake said Sunday morning. "I think we'll continue to be one of the top adult choices going forward."
Directed by Gus Van Sant, "Forrester" stars Sean Connery.
Sony's Screen Gems label's R-rated drama "Snatch," which was fourth last week, tied for seventh place in its second week with a less exciting ESTIMATED $4.8 million (-40%) at 1,444 theaters (theater count unchanged; $3,324 per theater). Its cume is approximately $15.8 million.
"Clearly, the picture's still got a good chance to get to, perhaps, $30 million and, certainly, $25-30 million and will be very profitable for us, especially with already being in profit out of the international markets," Sony's Blake said.
Written and directed by Guy Ritchie, "Snatch" stars Benicio Del Toro,Dennis Farina, Vinnie Jones, Brad Pitt, Rade Sherbedgia and Jason Statham.
Paramount's PG-13-rated romantic comedy "What Women Want" from Icon Productions slid four rungs to ninth place in its seventh week with a less sexy ESTIMATED $4.3 million (-37%) at 2,611 theaters (-414 theaters; $1,647 per theater). Its cume is approximately $169.5 million.
Directed by Nancy Meyers, "Women" stars Mel Gibson and Helen Hunt.
Rounding out the Top Ten was Warner Bros. and Castle Rock Entertainment's PG-13-rated comedy "Miss Congeniality," down three slots in its sixth week with a still okay ESTIMATED $4.01 million (-36%) at 2,409 theaters (-194 theaters; $1,665 per theater). Its cume is approximately $93.1 million.
"We're (heading for) between $105-110 million," Warner Bros. Distribution's Jeff Goldstein said Sunday morning. "We're tracking very positively against 'Analyze This,' which came in at $106 million. Right now we're 12% ahead of that. I think we comfortably get to $105 million and we could get to $110 million, too."
Directed by Donald Petrie, "Congeniality" stars Sandra Bullock, Michael Caine, Benjamin Bratt and Candice Bergen
OTHER OPENINGS There were no other wide openings this weekend.
SNEAK PREVIEWS There were no national sneak previews this weekend.
EXPANSIONS On the expansion front, Warner Bros. and Franchise Pictures' R-rated thriller "The Pledge" went wider, placing 12th with a calm ESTIMATED $3.57 million (-38%) at 1,410 theaters (+135 theaters; $2,528 per theater). Its cume i approximately $11.0 million.
Directed by Sean Penn, "Pledge" stars Jack Nicholson.
Miramax's PG-13-rated romantic comedy drama "Chocolat," a likely contender for Oscar nominations, went wider in its seventh week, placing 13th with a still hopeful ESTIMATED $3.2 million at 1,203 theaters (+545 theaters; $2,660 per theater). Its cume is approximately $17.3 million.
"Obviously, our Sunday's going to be hurt from the Super Bowl, a little bit," Miramax senior vice president, marketing David Kaminow said Sunday morning. "But the holdover runs are doing great, even as we're expanding these markets. Whatever happens on the 13th (of February with Academy Award nominations), I think this is still a movie that's going to be a crowd pleaser and that's going to stick around for a while."
Directed by Lasse Hallstrom, "Chocolat" stars Juliette Binoche, Judi Dench,Alfred Molina, Lena Olin and Johnny Depp.
Buena Vista/Touchstone went wider with its PG-13-rated dark comedy "O Brother, Where Art Thou?," placing 16th in its sixth week with an okay ESTIMATED $2.3 million at 547 theaters (+128 theaters; $4,205 per theater). Its cume is approximately $12.6 million.
Directed by Joel Coen and written by Ethan Coen & Joel Coen, it stars George Clooney, John Turturro, Tim Blake Nelson and John Goodman.
Lions Gate Films' R-rated drama "Shadow of the Vampire" went wider, placing 18th with a calm ESTIMATED $2.0 million at 513 theaters ($3,890 per theater). Its cume is approximately $2.6 million.
"We're going to hold at this level of screens for a few weeks and then we're going to expand once more on Feb. 16, the weekend after the Academy nominations, when we're expecting a couple to come our way," Lions Gate co-president Tom Ortenberg said Sunday morning.
Directed by E. Elias Merhige, "Vampire" stars John Malkovich and Willem Dafoe.
WEEKEND COMPARISONS Key films -- those grossing more than $500,000 for the three days -- took in approximately $93.93 million, up about 55.13% from the comparable weekend last year when key films grossed $60.55 million.
This weekend's key film gross was down about 13.06% from the previous weekend this year when key films grossed $108.04 million.
Last year, Destination Films' opening week of "Eye of the Beholder" was first with $5.96 million at 1,751 theaters ($3,403 per theater); and New Line's third week of "Next Friday" was second with $5.75 million at 1,335 theaters ($4,309 per theater). The top two films one year ago grossed $11.8 million. This year, the top two films grossed an ESTIMATED $24.0 million.
Does the female sex sell?
Judging from "Charlie's Angels" $75.4 million take in two weeks, the answer is a definite ... maybe.
The Drew Barrymore - Cameron Diaz - Lucy Liu starrer has overcome its infamous casting, script and $90 million production woes to become a bonafide hit. Milking its combination of cleavage, kung-fu fighting and Diaz's dance moves, "Charlie's Angels" urged moviegoers to "get some action," which they did, taking a strong summer for women and kicking it up a couple notches.
Once upon a time -- er, last spring, actually -- the Island of Moneymaking Girl-Power Movies only had one survivor: Julia Roberts. Sandra Bullock is in career rehab, Jodie Foster's a hit-or-miss. Meg Ryan and Michelle Pfeiffer owe half their box office draw to their huge male co-stars, while Sharon Stone is banking on "Basic Instinct 2" to revive her appeal. And Demi Moore ... well, that $12.5 mil for "Striptease" seems like a looong time ago.
Sounds bleak? Maybe not. The summer, while producing some of the weakest movies in recent memory, has managed to power up some hits with female-heavy marquees. Devoid of huge budgets, these films waited patiently while Tom, Mel, Eddie, Jim and Harrison duked it out before making their marks. Examples:
"Bring It On" Costing just $10 million, this comedy about a cheerleading competition bested Wesley Snipes' "Art of War" and knocked off Jennifer Lopez's "The Cell" (see below) to claim the top spot with $17 million in late August. Boasting no marquee names (it stars Kirsten Dunst, Gabrielle Union and Eliza Dushku), the film showed surprising legs (no pun intended) and has gone on to gross $67 million to date.
"The Cell" Jennifer Lopez became the highest-paid Latina actress in 1996 with her $1 million leading role in "Selena." "The Cell" put her in Virgin Mary robes, black bodysuits and a Hannibal Lecter muzzle contraption (is that moving up? We're not sure.). Audiences, intrigued either by the movie's visuals or Lopez's derriere in those tight outfits (or both), bit the first weekend, giving the $33 million thriller a $17.5 million opening. "The Cell" eventually tapped out at $61 million or so -- not a blockbuster, but enough to give Lopez a foothold for her next flick's salary negotiations.
"Coyote Ugly" Girls dancing to Rob Base on top of a bar in tight jeans, splashing water on themselves and serving beer. Lather, rinse, repeat. Touchstone Pictures' marketing department knew what it was doing when it hyped the ogling quotient and fierce-grrrl message ("tonight they're calling the shots") in trailers rather than its cheesy "Flashdance"-inspired story about a wide-eyed girl (Piper Perabo) who works at the bar Coyote Ugly while she launches her songwriting career. It barely earned back its $45 million budget (it's grossed about $60 million), but that still ain't bad for a film with a baffling title and no names (just faces) above the marquee.
And here's a peek at female-driven films to look forward to: "102 Dalmatians" -- Opens Nov. 22. Sequel to the 1996 film, which made about $137 million. Glenn Close looks to score again as memorable madwoman Cruella De Vil.
"Miss Congeniality" -- Opens Dec. 22 in New York. FBI agent Sandra Bullock has to tweeze her eyebrows to go undercover at a beauty pageant. Bullock's last film, the alcoholic comedy-drama "28 Days," languished at about $38 million, but she should shine here in a quirky role, supported by "The Cider House Rules" Oscar winner Michael Caine.
"Sugar and Spice" -- Opens Jan. 26. Mena (Suvari), Marley (Shelton), Marla (Sokoloff) and Melissa (George) are a bunch of cheerleaders who go on a crime spree. Isn't that cute?
"The Wedding Planner" -- Opens Jan. 26. It's Jennifer Lopez again, this time going for a Sandra Bullock-esque role as the title character, falling for the groom (Matthew McConaughey) of the wedding she's coordinating.
And let's not forget 2001's other offerings: "Bridget Jones's Diary," aka The Movie Renee Zellweger Gained Weight For; the Drew Barrymore starrer "Riding in Cars With Boys," directed by Penny Marshall; and next summer's ultimate girl-power gig -- Angelina Jolie as buxom archaeologist Lara Croft in "Tomb Raider," based on the popular video game.
Get some action, indeed.