Beloved German schlockmeister Marcus Nispel, most recently the director of the ill-fated Conan the Barbarian remake, has found a new gig. THR reports that Nispel has been tapped to helm Hack/Slash, Relativity Media's adaptation of the popular comic book about a girl who goes from slasher prey to slasher-slayer. (Her name, naturally, is Cassie Hack.) The project has seen more than its share of personnel changes since its inception, with commercial director Fredrik Bond the most recent casualty of its well-documented development struggles. Presumably, Nispel will get started on Hack/Slash as soon as he wraps things up on his latest project, Backmask, the true story of Joseph Derrick, a 19th-century Englishman cursed with cheekbones shaped like vertebrae.
Source: The Hollywood Reporter
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets kicked off atop the chart to a magical $87.7 million, off only 3 percent from last year's series $90.3 million launch for the Warner Bros. franchise. The sequel's ticket sales were running ahead of the original for both Saturday and Sunday.
8 Mile was miles away in second place with $21.3 million, but heading for a profitable $130 million in domestic theaters.
The Santa Clause 2 was a jolly third with $15.1 million.
The Ring finished fourth, holding well with $11 million as its cume hit $101.6 million.
Half Past Dead opened half-dead in fifth place to $8.2 million.
Driven by Harry Potter, key films were up nearly 8 percent from last year--$168.4 million versus $156.3 million.
THE TOP TEN
Warner Bros.' PG rated sequel Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets materialized in first place to a spellbinding ESTIMATED $87.69 million at 3,682 theaters ($23,816 per theater).
Harry's average per theater was the highest for any film playing in wide release this weekend.
Directed by Chris Columbus, it stars Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint and Emma Watson.
"We're thrilled because Saturday and Sunday exceeded the first one," Warner Bros. Distribution president Dan Fellman said Sunday morning. "We went up with the first one 4 percent on Saturday and this one went up 14 percent on Saturday. So Saturday and Sunday become the largest PG grossing days in motion picture history. We have $33.6 million for Saturday, $24.5 million (estimated) for Sunday. Friday was $29.6 million."
Fellman pointed out that, "The only day we fell behind the original Potter was Friday (when the first film did $32.3 million). Saturday and Sunday exceeded the original Potter which did $33.5 million on Saturday and $24.4 million on Sunday). So we're only 3 percent off (for the weekend). Obviously, this has exceeded our expectations and we're very pleased with it.
"The film's reviews and exit interviews even exceeded the good notices and exit polls of the first one. I'd like to congratulate the director Chris Columbus and David Heyman, who produced the movie, for delivering a wonderful film and establishing an incredible franchise for us. And of course none of this is possible without the vision and the imagination of J.K. Rowling. And I'd also like to acknowledge the great marketing department headed by Dawn Taubin and the creative talent of Jim Fredrick, who developed our campaign."
Universal and Imagine Entertainment's R rated drama 8 Mile fell one notch to second place in its second week with a less lively ESTIMATED $21.33 million (-58%) at 2,496 theaters (+26 theaters; $8,545 per theater).
8 Mile, which only cost about $41 million to produce, has a cume of approximately $86.4 million and is heading for a nicely profitable domestic theatrical gross of about $130 million.
Directed by Curtis Hanson and produced by Brian Grazer, it stars Eminem, Kim Basinger, Brittany Murphy and Mekhi Phifer.
Buena Vista/Disney's G rated comedy sequel Santa Clause 2 dropped one rung to third place in its third week with a still funny ESTIMATED $15.1 million (-39%) at 3,346 theaters (-6 theaters; $4,502 per theater). Its cume is approximately $82.5 million, heading for $100 million-plus.
Directed by Michael Lembeck, it stars Tim Allen.
DreamWorks' PG-13 rated horror thriller The Ring slipped one peg to fourth place in its fifth week, still holding well with an ESTIMATED $11.0 million (-29%) at 2,882 theaters (-45 theaters; $3,828 per theater). Its cume is approximately $101.6 million, heading for $125 million.
Directed by Gore Verbinski, it stars Naomi Watts, Martin Henderson and Brian Cox.
Sony's Screen Gems division opened its PG-13 thriller Half Past Dead in fifth place to an unexciting ESTIMATED $8.2 million at 2,113 theaters ($3,881 per theater).
Written and directed by Don Michael Paul, it stars Steven Seagal, Ja Rule and Morris Chestnut.
IFC Films' release of Gold Circle Films and HBO's PG rated romantic comedy blockbuster My Big Fat Greek Wedding held on to sixth place in its 31st week, still showing terrific strength with an ESTIMATED $4.71 million (-19%) at 1,812 theaters (-183 theaters; $2,602 per theater). Its cume is approximately $199.6 million, heading for $215 million in domestic theaters.
Directed by Joel Zwick, it stars Nia Vardalos and John Corbett.
Columbia's PG-13 rated comedy I Spy, which was fourth last week, tied for seventh place in its third week with a soft ESTIMATED $4.0 million (-54%) at 2,611 theaters (-571 theaters; $1,532 per theater). Its cume is approximately $30.9 million.
Directed by Betty Thomas, it stars Eddie Murphy and Owen Wilson.
Paramount and MTV Films' R rated comedy Jackass: The Movie, which wa
s fifth last week, tied for seventh place in its fourth week with a slow ESTIMATED $4.0 million (-43%) at 2,413 theaters (-119 theaters; $1,670 per theater). Its cume is approximately $59.5 million, heading for $65-70 million in domestic theaters.
Directed by Jeff Tremaine, it stars Johnny Knoxville.
Miramax's R rated drama Frida, which continued to expand in its fourth week, held on to ninth place with a hopeful ESTIMATED $2.89 million (+5%) at 519 theaters (+200 theaters; $5,568 per theater). Its cume is approximately $8.6 million.
Directed by Julie Taymor, it stars Salma Hayek.
Rounding out the Top Ten was Buena Vista/Touchstone's PG-13 rated romantic comedy Sweet Home Alabama, down three notches in its eighth week with an okay ESTIMATED $2.4 million (-38%) at 1,469 theaters (-535 theaters; $1,604 per theater). Its cume is approximately $122.0 million, heading for $127 million in domestic theaters.
Directed by Andy Tennant, it stars Reese Witherspoon.
This weekend also saw the arrival of Samuel Goldwyn Films' R rated drama The Crime of Father Amaro to an encouraging ESTIMATED $0.45 million at 43 theaters ($10,510 per theater).
Directed by Carlos Carrera, it stars Gael Garcia Bernal and is the official Mexican entry in this year's best foreign language film Oscar race.
Miramax's R rated drama Ararat kicked off to a hefty ESTIMATED $0.16 million at 5 theaters ($32,400 per theater).
Written and directed by Atom Egoyan, it stars David Alpay, Charles Aznavour, Eric Bogosian, Brent Carver and Marie-Josee Croze.
Artisan Entertainment's PG rated documentary Standing in the Shadows of Motown kicked off to a hopeful ESTIMATED $0.13 million at 23 theaters ($5,434 per theater).
Directed by Paul Justman, it tells the story of the Funk Brothers, the legendary musicians who were Motown's back-up band on the tons of hit records the label produced in Detroit in the early '60s.
"It's a good start," Artisan distribution head Steve Rothenberg said Sunday morning. "Documentaries never start with big numbers--other than Bowling For Columbine. I guess that's the exception to the rule. When we had (the documentary) Buena Vista Social Club a few years ago we opened up to about $8,000 a screen at a similar number of theaters. So we're hoping that we can hold in like that film did week after week and, hopefully, the film will grow. We have 12 more theaters in 12 cities coming next week and then another 12 for Thanksgiving."
There were no national sneak previews this weekend.
On the expansion front this weekend United Artists' R rated satiric documentary Bowling For Columbine released via MGM went wider in its fifth week with a still solid ESTIMATED $1.35 million (-13%) at 248 theaters (+26 theaters; $5,434 per theater). Its cume is approximately $8.9 million.
Written, produced and directed by Michael Moore, it won the Special Jury Prize at this year's Cannes Film Festival.
"We broke the record this weekend for the highest grossing non-concert documentary of all time," a United Artists spokeswoman said Sunday morning. "The film that previously held that (record) was Hoop Dreams with $7.33 million. We're at six weeks in release and they reached that gross after 37 weeks."
Focus Features' PG-13 rated drama Far From Heaven went wider in its second week with a very encouraging ESTIMATED $0.93 million at 54 theaters (+48 theaters; $17,238 per theater). Its cume is approximately $1.3 million.
Directed by Todd Haynes, it stars Julianne Moore, Dennis Quaid and Dennis Haysbert.
"It's Todd Haynes' biggest film ever," Focus distribution president Jack Foley said Sunday morning. "Based on the business in the new markets, and particularly the results in the suburban markets, they were splendid. The suburbs were crazy! Voorhees, New Jersey's going to do about $21,000 for the weekend. These are very rare numbers for any art film like this. It puts it into a very special sphere.
"All in all, the consistency of its performance is breathtaking because it was very successful everywhere it opened. I think we can pretty much be certain that this coming weekend's augmentation into about 250 theaters--we'll in about 70 or 80 markets in total--should be a replica of what happened this weekend. We've got a really wonderful opportunity to play very strongly during the Thanksgiving holiday and, probably, beyond. I'm very excited because this is such a special film."
HBO Films and Newmarket Films' PG-13 rated comedy drama Real Women Have Curves added theaters in its fifth week with a quiet ESTIMATED $0.5 million (+2%) at 154 theaters (+8 theaters; $3,475 per theater). Its cume is approximately $2.7 million.
Directed by Patricia Cardoso, it stars America Ferrera, Lupe Ontiveros and George Lopez.
Artisan Entertainment's R rated comedy Roger Dodger widened in its fourth week with a dull ESTIMATED $0.2 million at 48 theaters (+14 theaters; $4,166 per theater). Its cume is approximately $0.7 million.
Written and directed by Dylan Kidd, it stars Jennifer Beals, Elizabeth Berkley, Jesse Eisenberg, Isabella Rossellini and Campbell Scott.
"We're adding another 12 (runs) next weekend," Artisan distribution head Steve Rothenberg said Sunday morning. "At the end of the day, I think it'll be (a cume of) about $1.5 million."
Key films--those grossing more than $500,000--took in approximately $168.43 million for the weekend, up about 7.79 percent from last year when they totaled $156.25 million.
Key films were up about 20.93 percent from the previous weekend this year when they totaled $139.27 million.
Last year, Warner Bros.' opening week of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone was first with $90.29 million at 3,672 theaters ($24,590 per theater); and Buena Vista/ Disney's third week of Monsters, Inc. was second with $22.72 million at 3,461 theaters ($6,564 per theater). The top two films one year ago grossed $113.0 million. This year, the top two films grossed an ESTIMATED $109.0 million.
It wasn't a glittering weekend for Hollywood as its only wide opening, Glitter, failed to make the Top Ten.
The weekend's biggest success story was Warner Bros.' well attended sneak previews Friday and Saturday night of Castle Rock Entertainment's PG-13 rated drama Hearts in Atlantis, directed by Scott Hicks (Shine) and starring Anthony Hopkins.
Following the Sept. 11 terrorist attack on New York and Washington, several studios decided to pull films from this weekend's release schedule. Two movies that had loomed as strong box office contenders were suddenly seen as having inappropriate content--Warner Bros.' police corruption drama Training Day, directed by Antoine Fuqua and starring Denzel Washington and Ethan Hawke; and Buena Vista/Touchstone's comedy Big Trouble, directed by Barry Sonnenfeld and starring Tim Allen and Rene Russo.
In the absence of any strong new arrivals, Paramount's PG-13 rated urban appeal drama-comedy Hardball easily held on to first place with an okay ESTIMATED $8.2 million (-13%) at 2,210 theaters (+73 theaters; $3,710 per theater). Its cume is approximately $19.4 million.
Hardball's average per theater was the highest for any film playing in over 500 theaters this weekend.
Directed by Brian Robbins, it stars Keanu Reeves.
"It held up very well," Paramount distribution president Wayne Lewellen said Sunday morning. "Obviously, we're very pleased with it. I think it's the kind of movie, a feel good movie, that [works well because] of everything that's going on right now. It's also a good movie. It plays very well to the audience."
Asked where it's heading, Lewellen replied, "Right now, with this strong a hold I think it's in the $40 million-plus range."
Ticket sales by key films--those grossing $500,000 or more for the weekend--were approximately $52.9 million, down only about 5.6 percent from the comparable weekend last year's total of $56.1 million. The relatively modest drop from last year suggests that moviegoing did not fall dramatically this weekend and that had there been stronger films entering the marketplace, ticket sales would most likely have been up from last year.
In fact, looking back at this weekend last year, the top grossing film then was Columbia's Urban Legends: Final Cut, which opened to only $8.5 million, very much in line with this year's first place Hardball gross of $8.2 million.
Dimension Films' PG-13 thriller The Others rose three pegs to second place in its seventh week, still showing great legs with an ESTIMATED $5.2 million (+13%) at 2,801 theaters (-42 theaters; $1,856 per theater). Others, which cost only $17 million to make, has a cume of approximately $80.2 million, heading for $90 million or more in domestic theaters.
Directed by Alejandro Amenabar, it stars Nicole Kidman.
"In its seventh week it's the highest it's ever been in the Top Ten," David Kaminow, senior vice president, marketing for Dimension's parent company Miramax, said. "We're sneaking Serendipity next weekend both Friday and Saturday and, obviously, we'll sneak [in theaters playing] The Others. So that will help (boost the thriller's cume). $85 million seems ridiculous (as a projection now and $90 million-plus seems more likely)."
Asked about the film's recently increased television advertising, Kaminow explained, "That was kind of always the plan just in terms of looking at the competitive landscape. We came in on Aug. 10 and we knew that if we could get it into the fall we would still have a couple of solid weeks into September before [the arrival of strong new competition]. This [coming] weekend will be the first time it's really going to face [major competition] between the Michael Douglas movie (20th Century Fox and Regency's thriller Don't Say a Word) and Zoolander [from Paramount, directed by and starring Ben Stiller] and Hearts in Atlantis. In the planning process, this was always on course. It, of course, exceeded expectations. But our goal was to keep it going. The way we released it, starting on 1,600 screens and adding 400 more [the next weekend] was really sort of building and building and building. I think it's a nice model [to use but] you have to have the movie to do it with, though, so it doesn't burn itself out."
Kaminow also pointed out that Others' success adds strength to Nicole Kidman's prospects as an Oscar and Golden Globes best actress contender. "It's great for Nicole," he said. "We definitely think she has a campaign ahead of her."
Columbia's PG-13 rated suspense thriller The Glass House fell one rung to third place in its second week with a slower ESTIMATED $4.4 million (-23%) at 1,591 theaters (theater count unchanged; $2,766 per theater). Its cume is approximately $11.7 million.
Directed by Daniel Sackheim, it stars Leelee Sobieski, Diane Lane and Stellan Skarsgard.
"It's a nice small movie that has taken advantage of a pretty soft marketplace and looks like it could get to $20 million," Sony Pictures Entertainment worldwide marketing & distribution president Jeff Blake said Sunday morning.
Universal and Miramax's PG-13 rated action adventure acquisition The Musketeer fell one notch to fourth place in its third week with a less rousing ESTIMATED $3.51 million (-36%) at 2,500 theaters (+24 theaters; $1,405 per theater). Musketeer, which Universal picked up for North America for only about $3.75 million, has a cume of approximately $22.6 million, heading for $30 million in domestic theaters.
Directed by Peter Hyams, it stars Catherine Deneuve, Mena Suvari, Stephen Rea, Tim Roth and Justin Chambers.
New Line Cinema's PG-13 rated action comedy blockbuster sequel Rush Hour 2 rose one rung to fifth place in its eighth week with a solid ESTIMATED $3.65 million (-11%) at 2,129 theaters (-137 theaters; $1,714 per theater). Its cume is approximately $215.7 million, heading for $220-225 million in domestic theaters.
Directed by Brett Ratner, it stars Jackie Chan and Chris Tucker.
"It keeps rolling along," New Line distribution president David Tuckerman said Sunday morning. "This is actually what our game plan was--that it would roll all the way through September."
Asked if the fact that Rush 2 is a comedy is helping it during these troubled times, Tuckerman replied, "I think so. I think that the fact that it's a comedy (is a plus) and you just go in for an hour and a half and have a good time. There's nothing else to think about. It's very simple and very funny. I think there are a lot of people in the country who are interested in not thinking about things."
Tuckerman pointed out that other comedies are also benefiting from the public's desire for escapist entertainment these days: "Rat Race is continuing to play well. And American Pie 2 has continued (doing well). They're still stuck in the Top Ten. It looks like [people] are looking for comedy."
Bel-Air Entertainment's R rated drama Rock Star, distributed by Warner Bros., which was tenth last week, tied for sixth place in its third week. Rock got a big boost from Warners' well attended sneaks Friday and Saturday of Castle Rock Entertainment's Hearts in Atlantis.
Thanks to those sneaks, Rock looked a lot livelier with an ESTIMATED $3.2 million (-6%) at 2,162 theaters (-363 theaters; $1,480 per theater). Its cume is approximately $15.4 million.
Directed by Stephen Herek, it stars Mark Wahlberg and Jennifer Aniston.
"We had the best sneaks, I think, in the history of Warner Bros.," Warner Bros. Distribution president Dan Fellman said Sunday morning. "There were 510 sneaks and we were 85 percent capacity. We had 94 percent in the Top Two boxes (excellent and very good). [The audience was] 53 percent female and 47 percent male. And, of course, Rock Star was the beneficiary of that. Rock Star moved from number ten to [tie for] number six."
Directed by Scott Hicks and written by William Goldman, Hearts stars Anthony Hopkins.
Hearts opens this Friday (Sept. 28). "We had planned to open at 1,200 theaters, but due to the great reaction and response from our campaign--and, by the way, [Warner Bros. creative advertising executive] Jim Fredrick did a great job--we're probably going to be in close to 1,700 theaters now," Fellman said. "We bought the (additional) prints anticipating a good weekend. We're thrilled that it was well attended, but we didn't expect it to be that [exceptionally] strong."
Fellman agreed that it helped that many people were looking for something new to see this weekend. "And they loved it," he noted. "It's a feel good movie. It comes in at the right time."
Focusing on the health of the current marketplace, Fellman pointed out, "The marketplace being only 16 percent behind last year for the 13 pictures we track is an indication that the marketplace is stronger than we [think it is] because the major companies moved pictures away from this period. We were going to open Training Day this weekend and we moved it back. The tracking is huge. What these numbers show is that without any very strong films in the marketplace, people still went to the movies. There was nothing new that opened [wide] this weekend except Glitter."
Sony's Screen Gems label's R rated urban appeal romantic comedy Two Can Play That Game, which was fourth last week, tied for sixth place in its third week with a less playful ESTIMATED $3.2 million (-31%) at 1,308 theaters (+11 theaters; $2,446 per theater). Made for only $6 million, its cume is approximately $18.2 million, heading for the mid-$20 millions in domestic theaters.
Written and directed by Mark Brown, it stars Vivica A. Fox and Anthony Anderson.
Paramount's PG-13 comedy Rat Race rose one rung to eighth place in its sixth week, still showing good legs with an ESTIMATED $3.0 million (-16%) at 2,417 theaters (-78 theaters; $1,241 per theater). Its cume is approximately $51.6 million.
Directed by Jerry Zucker, it stars Rowan Atkinson, John Cleese, Whoopi Goldberg, Cuba Gooding, Jr., Seth Green, Jon Lovitz, Breckin Meyer and Amy Smart.
Where is Race heading? "Between $55-60 million," Paramount distribution president Wayne Lewellen said Sunday morning. "I think it's got a shot at $60 million."
MGM's Jeepers Creepers, the R rated horror film from the studio's United Artists label, fell one notch to eighth place in its fourth week with a less scary ESTIMATED $2.79 million (-27%) at 2,576 theaters (-271 theaters; $1,083 per theater). Its cume is approximately $33.6 million.
Written and directed by Victor Salva, it stars Gina Phillips, Justin Long, Jonathan Breck and Eileen Brennan.
Rounding out the Top Ten was Universal's R rated youth appeal comedy hit sequel American Pie 2, down two pegs in its seventh week with a less stimulating ESTIMATED $2.65 million (-27%) at 2,117 theaters (-222 theaters; $1,250 per theater). Pie 2, which cost about $30 million to make, has a cume of approximately $139.6 million, heading for $145 million in domestic theaters.
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.
This weekend also saw the arrival of 20th Century Fox and Columbia's PG-13 rated musical drama Glitter out of the Top Ten with a tarnished ESTIMATED $2.5 million at 1,202 theaters ($2,080 per theater).
Directed by Vondie Curtis Hall, it stars Mariah Carey.
Fox, which is releasing Glitter domestically, had planned to open it in late August, but delayed its release after Carey suffered what widespread media reports called a breakdown.
Also arriving was 8X Entertainment's PG-13 rated sequel drama Megiddo: The Omega Code 2, which failed to set the world on fire with an ESTIMATED $1.4 million at 315 theaters ($4,350 per theater).
Megiddo, whose ads do not credit a director, stars Michael York and Michael Biehn.
This weekend saw Warner Bros. hold sneak previews of Castle Rock Entertainment's PG-13 rated drama Hearts in Atlantis. For details see comments above by Warner Bros. Distribution president Dan Fellman in connection with Rock Star, the film whose theaters were used for the Hearts sneaks.
On the expansion front, this weekend saw MGM's hit comedy Legally Blonde go wider in its 11th week, providing some light entertainment for moviegoers wanting to escape briefly from television news.
The PG-13 comedy's expansion generated a sexy ESTIMATED $1.3 million at 1,304 theaters (+649 theaters; $998 per theater). Its cume is approximately $92.1 million.
Directed by Robert Luketic, it stars Reese Witherspoon, Luke Wilson, Selma Blair, Matthew Davis, Victor Garber and Jennifer Coolidge with a special appearance by Raquel Welch.
MGM's release of United Artists' R rated youth appeal comedy Ghost World continued to widen in its tenth week, still holding well with an ESTIMATED $0.38 million (even) at 128 theaters (+26 theaters; $2,916 per theater). Its cume is approximately $4.7 million.
Directed by Terry Swigoff, it stars Thora Birch, Scarlett Johansson, Brad Renfro, Illeana Douglas and Steve Buscemi.
Key films--those grossing more than $500,000--took in approximately $52.92 million, down about 5.6 per cent from the comparable weekend last year when key films grossed $56.06 million.
This weekend's key film gross was down about 11.06 percent from last weekend of this year, when key films took in approximately $59.5 million.
Last year, Sony's opening week of Urban Legends: Final Cut was first with $8.51 million at 2,539 theaters ($3,350 per theater); and Warner Bros.' opening week of its reissue of The Exorcist was second with $8.18 million at 664 theaters ($12,313 per theater). The top two films one year ago grossed $15.7 million. This year, the top two films grossed an ESTIMATED $13.4 million.