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.
Comedian Paula Poundstone, who entered an alcohol treatment program in June, was freed by a superior court judge's order on Wednesday, Reuters reports. Poundstone pleaded no contest to child endangerment charges in October and was sentenced to a mandatory 180-day stay at the Malibu-based rehab facility Promises. She was also ordered to perform 200 hours of community service, attend a counseling program on child abuse and undergo psychiatric counseling. As part of her plea agreement with prosecutors, Poundstone, who has two adopted children and cared for three foster children, was barred from acting as a foster parent in the future. Superior Court Judge Bernard Kamins told the 41-year-old comedian she had served her time. "Today is really a day for commendation rather than to bite you," he said.
Sean "P. Diddy" Combs and Kim Porter, the mother of the rapper's youngest child, reached an agreement Wednesday on child support for their 3-year-old son, The Associated Press reports. The terms of the settlement were not disclosed in court documents. Combs, who earns several million dollars a year, had been giving Porter a court-ordered $11,000 each month. The settlement will provide for the child until he reaches age 21.
A security guard is suing Marilyn Manson for battery and emotional distress following an incident at a concert at the Historic Orpheum Theatre in Minneapolis, the AP reports. David M. Diaz claims that Manson grabbed his head, held it against his hips and proceeded to gyrate said hips at an Oct. 27, 2000 concert. Diaz alleges he was humiliated, degraded, ridiculed and shamed, and is seeking $75,000 for emotional distress and other injuries.
The battle over Grateful Dead frontman Jerry Garcia's four guitars went back to court Wednesday after guitar maker Doug Irwin rejected a proposed legal settlement with the former band members. As part of the settlement, Irwin would have to participate in a news conference to express "complete satisfaction" with the deal, Reuters reports. Irwin said in a statement, "I think they wanted to bribe me into publicly going along with their amoral attempt to rob Jerry's grave."
Former Sotheby's chairman A. Alfred Taubman was found guilty on Wednesday of hatching an international price fixing conspiracy in the 1990s with the former head of rival auction house Christie's, Reuters reports. Taubman, 72, will be sentenced on April 2, 2002, and could three years in prison as well as heavy fines. Between 1993 and 1999, the two house charged sellers in the United States at least $400 million in commissions.
A loading dockworker was sentenced to three years of probation on Wednesday in connection with the theft of 55 Oscar statuettes before the 2000 Academy Awards, the AP reports. Anthony Hart, who worked at Roadway Express in Bell, was one of three men who pleaded no contest to criminal charges in the case. He was also ordered to pay $200 in restitution.
Kate Burton and Larry Pine received this year's Joe A. Callaway awards, Variety reports. The awards are presented by Actors' Equity Foundation for the best performance by a male and female actor in a classic play in the Gotham area. Burton appears in the current Broadway production of Hedda Gabler; Pine appeared in The Seagull in Central Park last summer.
ABC and NBC lead the NAACP's Image Awards on Wednesday with 13 nominations each, the AP reports. Only four months ago, the two networks were criticized for lacking diversity in coverage. Three hundred show-business professionals and NAACP officials, who select five nominees for each of the 41 categories, determine the nominations.
Wilford Brimley cancelled upcoming performances with the community symphony and choir in Great Falls, Mont., because he suffering from pneumonia, AP reports. Brimley, 67, was to have been a singer and a narrator at the holiday concerts scheduled for Saturday and Sunday.
Destiny's Child are parting ways to pursue solo projects for the near the future, the R&B trio announced Wednesday. Bandmember Kelly Rowland said she did not know when they would regroup. Destiny's Child had become a dominant force since the spring of 2000 and had a string of multi-platinum albums and hit singles, Reuters reports.
Neil Young has written and recorded a song about the passengers who fought back against the Sept. 11 hijackers, Reuters reports. Young wrote the song after reading a newspaper article about passenger Todd Beamer and recorded it two weeks ago. Beamer was on flight 93 that crashed into a Pennsylvania field and was heard on an onboard telephone telling fellow passengers "Let's Roll."
The Discovery Channel will air a five-part series about J.R.R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings and the upcoming film based on the classic trilogy from Dec. 31 to 19, the day the film opens in theaters. According to the Toronto Star, the shows will document different aspects of Tolkien's creation and examine many hand-drawn maps of the mythical Middle Earth.
The History Channel is producing its first live programming on Friday to mark the 60th anniversary of the Pearl Harbor attack. The network will cover the memorial service on the USS Arizona in Hawaii starting at 12:30 p.m. ET, AP reports.
Most end-of-the-year "best of" lists from critics deplore the current state of movies before telling you about the few nuggets that came out that were actually (according to them) worth your time. The year 1999 was different. The critics didn't complain, and rightfully so.
The last of the 1900s marked a groundbreaking revolution in cinema. Films like "Three Kings," "American Beauty," "The Sixth Sense" and "The Blair Witch Project" expanded the boundaries of what traditional generic films could become. True oddballs like "Being John Malkovich" were made and even turned a profit. Sequels like "Toy Story 2" didn't suck.
Overall, going to the movies was about as dreadful as living through Y2K. Instead of suffering through a bunch of bummers, audiences were treated to a diverse, colorful celebration of life as we live it, and where it's headed.
Here is our list of the Top 10 films that quickened the pulses, stimulated our minds and sent us soaring. In an era of yuppie-fied java-pushing theater concessions, these babies required absolutely no additives to achieve maximum effect.
THE HOLLYWOOD.COM TOP 10
1. "The Insider": Who would have guessed that a story based on the cigarette industry could be so excellent, let alone interesting? Arguments could be made that director Michael Mann's absorbing and powerful tale about a "60 Minutes" producer and a tobacco-industry whistleblower is even more thrilling and consistently involving than his crime epic masterpiece, "Heat." No explosions or gun battles needed here. Believable human drama, real relationships and a time-tested theme about a thing called truth are all that's needed, plus some of the best performances of the year.
2. "Anna and the King": That's right. We'll chalk this one up as being the most unrecognized, unheralded classic in the making. Some would say the story's been done before -- but so what? This one, sans music, gets to the basics of the inherent poignancy of the relationship between the King of Siam and British schoolteacher Anna Leonowens. As portrayed by Chow Yun-Fat (our vote for best leading man of the '90s) and reliable Jodie Foster, the couple is a doozy. Add in some amazing cinematography, and this affecting period piece's built to last for future generations.
3. "Toy Story 2": As with its predecessor, "Toy Story 2" proves that the best cartoons are those made for kids and adults. Woody, Buzz and the rest of the gang made it back for another amazing, hilarious adventure. The pop-culture in-jokes were a bonus. The most surprising thing here was how much the people at Pixar and the voice talent (led by Tom Hanks and Tim Allen) could make you care about a toy's feelings. With a thing this good, another manufactured product doesn't sound half-bad.
4. "American Beauty": Praised for its blunt appraisal of suburban dystopia, this feature debut from theater director Sam Mendes burned with creative fervor, not to mention a cast working at the top of its collective talent. Kevin Spacey continued to show why he's America's favorite satirical Everyman, and newcomer Wes Bentley shone as the odd, mysterious peeping Tom next door. Every shot was a marvel to behold, and the movie itself was unlike any middle-American drama ever released. It's the Cleavers gone to hell -- and then some.
5. "The Winslow Boy": David Mamet fans had a hard time believing he could be responsible for this G-rated period piece set in proper Britain circa World War I. But the street poet is one smart cookie who realizes great drama and tension when he sees it. This tale of a court case to redeem a boy and his family's honor made perfect sense as a Mamet tale. It was also highly entertaining and enthralling, using the powers of subtlety and things left unsaid to sell its boiling dynamics. Combined with a command performance from Jeremy Northam, the film and its accompanying love story made for powerful, memorable stuff.
6. "Liberty Heights": Barry Levinson complimented his Baltimore trilogy ("Diner," "Tin Men," "Avalon") with another personal bit of filmmaking set in his hometown. Dealing directly with issues of racial separation in the 1950s, the director and his cast of fresh-faced talents provided painful, funny truth-telling. The look and feel was right, and Joe Mantegna gave the production the right air of fallible humanity as the patriarch of a Jewish family dealing with issues in an imperfect America.
7. "Bowfinger": Overlooked by the Golden Globes nominating committee was Steve Martin's dead-on, affectionate lambasting of the Hollywood industry and all its assorted characters. Martin's smart screenplay and Frank Oz's good direction were simply the trimmings. Eddie Murphy provided the final coup, playing both a lovable, earnest dummy and an egotistical action movie star. The scenes between Martin and Murphy were worth the price of admission alone. Same goes for the scenes with just Murphy.
8. "Last Night": Never seen or heard of it? Stay tuned to your local independent movie house, which could be showing this amazing gem from Canada, the winner of the country's equivalent of the Oscar for best picture and several other awards. Forget "Armageddon," "Deep Impact" or any other Hollywood-derived disaster flick. This movie's the real deal about what people would say or do to each other if the world were really going to end in six hours. Expect the unexpected from this defiantly independent and haunting film.
9. "The Hurricane": Denzel Washington's performance as real-life boxer Rubin "Hurricane" Carter, imprisoned for 19 years for murders he didn't commit, was a true phenomenon. Norman Jewison told the story in expert fashion, and the supporting cast was excellent, especially Vicellous Shannon as a boy who sets out to help free Carter. But Washington rose above his (lofty) surroundings with a charismatic portrayal that is the embodiment of dignity and integrity. It's a landmark performance that ranks on par with his work in "Malcolm X" and his Academy Award-winning part in "Glory."
10. "Go": Largely overlooked by youth audiences and twentysomethings, this second effort from "Swingers" director Doug Liman was the perfect follow-up to "Pulp Fiction," and blew away all the hack, "Pulp" wannabes. Instead of copping Tarantino entirely, Liman cast a talented group of young actors including Sarah Polley and Taye Diggs, and threw them into a believable world of wild all-night raves and quick trips to Vegas. The end result was colorful, decadent, energetic and wonderfully cinematic. "Go," more than any other film of '99, captured the millennial spirit of the party in all its gross, absurd and youthful glory.