Planet of the Apes proved to be the 400 pound box office gorilla insiders anticipated, opening to nearly $70 million.
20th Century Fox's PG-13 sci-fi action adventure inspired by the studio's 1968 classic of the same name landed in first place with an out of this world record setting ESTIMATED $69.55 million at 3,500 theaters ($19,871 per theater).
Apes' average per theater was the highest for any film playing in wide or limited release this weekend.
Directed by Tim Burton and produced by Richard D. Zanuck, it stars Mark Wahlberg, Tim Roth, Helena Bonham Carter and Michael Clarke Duncan.
"This is as good as it gets," Fox distribution president Bruce Snyder said Sunday morning. "It's the best non-holiday weekend opening ever. Mummy Returns had that position at $68.139 million and we're going to blow past that with $69.55 million. It's the second best weekend (of any type) ever. Lost World: Jurassic Park's three day -- they had a four day of $90 million -- was $72.132 million. So we are the highest non-holiday and the second highest (for any weekend)."
An indication of the enormous expectations theater owners had for the film is that its theater count continued to rise right down to the wire. With a count of 3,494 theaters going into the weekend, Snyder said that as of Sunday morning, "It's actually 3,499. Call me crazy -- I'm calling it 3,500 now! They kept adding them. I swear, every time I saw (the total) it was like, here's another one."
Looking back, Snyder noted, "The original Apes from which the whole franchise sprang did $32.5 million (in its domestic theatrical run). I think we had that by noon yesterday!"
Asked why the new Apes has worked so well, Snyder replied "I think it's the concept. We're somewhat older audience-wise, so this isn't just about being driven by kids. This is being driven by you and I and 35-year-olds. Sixty-two percent (of those on hand opening weekend) were over 25 years of age. So we've still got some young people to get, which is terrific. That really bodes well."
Snyder did not have detailed exit poll data in hand yet early Sunday morning, but said, "I've just gotten it read to me over the phone and it played fabulously. It's a people picture."
Faced with the arrival of Apes, Universal and Amblin Entertainment's PG-13 rated action adventure fantasy sequel Jurassic Park III took a predictably sharp drop second weekend drop, falling one peg to second place with a still larger than life ESTIMATED $22.49 million (-56 percent) at 3,439 theaters (+5 theaters; $6,540 per theater). Its cume is approximately $124.8 million, heading for $175-200 million 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.
Revolution Studios and Columbia Pictures' PG-13 rated romantic comedy America's Sweethearts slid one slot to third place in its second week with a still attractive ESTIMATED $15.7 million (-48 percent) at 3,011 theaters (theater count unchanged; $5,214 per theater). Its cume is approximately $59.4 million.
Directed by Joe Roth, it stars Julia Roberts, Billy Crystal, Catherine Zeta-Jones and John Cusack.
"Listen, in today's world down 48 percent is above average," Sony Pictures Entertainment worldwide marketing & distribution president Jeff Blake said Sunday morning.
"We certainly would hope even better holds lay ahead. We have survived against two of the biggest openings in history (with Jurassic III and Apes) in the last two weeks. While Rush Hour 2 lays ahead, it's pretty different (in terms of core audience) and we would hope for even better holds ahead. But off a $30 million opening and what's been going on this summer (in terms of second weekend drops in the 50 percents), this is not bad at all. I think this still points us towards $100 million and that would be a very nice target to aim at."
MGM's PG-13 rated comedy hit Legally Blonde fell two rungs to fourth in its third week, still showing good legs with an ESTIMATED $9.0 million (-19 percent) at 2,725 theaters (+30 theaters; $3,304 per theater).
Blonde, which cost only $18 million to produce,has a cume of approximately $59.8 million and is on its way to a very profitable $75-80 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.
Paramount's R rated crime drama The Score dropped two notches to fifth place in its third week with an okay ESTIMATED $7.3 million (-32 percent) at 2,211 theaters (+51 theaters; $3,305 per theater). Its cume is approximately $49.4 million.
Directed by Frank Oz, it stars Robert De Niro, Edward Norton, Angela Bassett and Marlon Brando.
Cats & Dogs, the PG rated family appeal comedy from Warner Bros., Village Roadshow Pictures and NPV Entertainment, fell one peg to sixth place in its fourth week with a calm ESTIMATED $4.52 million (-34 percent) at 2,816 theaters (-224 theaters; $1,603 per theater). Its cume is approximately $81.5 million, heading for $100 million in domestic theaters.
20th Century Fox and Davis Entertainment's PG rated comedy sequel Dr. Dolittle 2 rose one notch to seventh place in its sixth week, holding very well with an ESTIMATED $4.18 million (-13 percent) at 2,190 theaters (-244 theaters; $1,906 per theater). Its cume is approximately $100.8 million, heading for $110 million in domestic theaters.
Directed by Steve Carr and produced by John Davis, it stars Eddie Murphy.
"We have a second piece of good news," Fox's Bruce Snyder said Sunday morning after talking about the studio's success with Apes. "Dr. Dolittle hit $100 million this weekend. It and Shrek were the only movies that were impervious to the [huge Apes] opening. We were only off 13 percent. I think we should scratch to $110 million."
Universal's PG-13 action drama The Fast and the Furious dipped two rungs to eighth place in its sixth week, still holding well with an ESTIMATED $3.78 million (-29 percent) at 2,415 theaters (-317 theaters; $1,565 per theater). Fast, which cost a modest $38 million, has a cume of approximately $132.2 million.
Directed by Rob Cohen and produced by Neal H. Moritz, it stars Paul Walker, Vin Diesel, Michelle Rodriguez and Jordana Brewster.
Dimension Films' R rated horror film spoof sequel Scary Movie 2 fell two rungs to ninth place in its fourth week with a quiet ESTIMATED $2.6 million (-43 percent) at 2,179 theaters (-623 theaters; $1,193 per theater). Its cume is approximately $67.0 million, heading for $70 million in domestic theaters.
Directed by Keenen Ivory Wayans, it stars Shawn Wayans, Marlon Wayans, Anna Faris, Regina Hall, Christopher Masterson and Kathleen Robertson.
Rounding out the Top Ten was DreamWorks' PG rated computer animated blockbuster Shrek, up one notch in its 11th week and still showing good legs with an ESTIMATED $1.7 million (-24 percent) at 1,439 theaters (-112 theaters; $1,209 per theater). Its cume is approximately $255.5 million on its way to $260 million or more.
Directed by Andrew Adamson and Vicky Jenson, its voice talents include Mike Myers, Eddie Murphy, Cameron Diaz and John Lithgow.
This weekend also saw the arrival of USA Films' R rated comedy Wet Hot American Summer with a hopeful ESTIMATED $0.021 million at 2 theaters ($10,397 per theater).
Directed by David Wain, it stars Janeane Garofalo and David Hyde Pierce.
Buena Vista/Disney held very well attended sneak previews at 1,150 theaters this weekend of its G rated family appeal comedy The Princess Diaries.
Directed by Garry Marshall, it stars Julie Andrews and Anne Hathaway.
Disney said Sunday morning that 45 percent of the theaters were sold out and the rest played to 80-90 percent of capacity. Those on hand covered the entire age spectrum and scored the film 91 percent in the Top Two Boxes (excellent and very good.)
Diaries opens wide this Friday (Aug. 3).
On the expansion front, this weekend saw Artisan's R rated comedy Made widen in its third week with a still encouraging ESTIMATED $0.63 million at 195 theaters (+86 theaters; $6,005 per theater). Its cume is approximately $1.3 million.
Written and directed by Jon Favreau, it stars Favreau, Vince Vaughn, Sean Combs, Famke Janssen, Faizon Love and Peter Falk.
Miramax's R rated French comedy The Closet went wider in its fifth week with an okay ESTIMATED $0.37 million (+9 percent) at 98 theaters (+33 theaters; $3,775 per theater). Its cume is approximately $1.8 million.
Directed by Francis Veber, it stars Daniel Auteuil, Gerard Depardieu, Thierry Lhermitte and Michele Laroque.
Fox Searchlight's R rated critically acclaimed British crime thriller Sexy Beast added a few theaters in its seventh week, still holding well with an ESTIMATED $0.34 million (-17 percent) at 193 theaters (+5 theaters; $1,780 per theater). Its cume is approximately $5.1 million.
Directed by Jonathan Glazer, it stars Ray Winstone and Ben Kingsley.
Lions Gate Films' PG-13 rated drama Songcatcher continued to widen in its seventh week with a soft ESTIMATED $0.18 million (-19 percent) at 104 theaters (+13 theaters; $1,750 per theater). Its cume is approximately $1.6 million.
Directed by Maggie Greenwald, it stars Janet McTeer and Aidan Quinn.
MGM's release of United Artists' R rated youth appeal comedy Ghost World widened in its second week with a lively ESTIMATED $0.13 million (+29 percent) at 8 theaters (+3 theaters; $16,000 per theater) in Los Angeles, New York and Seattle. Its cume is approximately $0.3 million.
Directed by Terry Zwigoff, it stars Thora Birch, Scarlett Johansson, Brad Renfro, Illeana Douglas and Steve Buscemi.
MGM said that this Friday (Aug. 3) Ghost will add 7 more markets and 14 theaters, bringing its total for the weekend to 22 theaters and 10 markets.
Fine Line Features' R rated rock musical drama Hedwig and the Angry Inch added a few theaters in its second week with a still hopeful ESTIMATED $0.11 million (-30 percent) at 11 theaters (+2 theaters; $9,924 per theater). Its cume is approximately $0.4 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 $148.47 million, up about 18.04 percent from the comparable weekend last year when key films grossed $125.78 million.
This weekend's key film gross was up about 5.86 percent from last weekend this year when key films took in $140.24 million.
Last year, Universal's opening week of Nutty Professor II: The Klumps was first with $42.52 million at 3,242 theaters ($13,115 per theater); and DreamWorks' second week of What Lies Beneath was second with $22.86 million at 2,825 theaters ($8,093 per theater). The top two films one year ago grossed $65.4 million. This year, the top two films grossed an ESTIMATED $92.1 million.
Rapper Sean "Puffy" Combs has had another run-in with Miami police, according to the Miami Herald.
Sgt. Gene Kowalski was working off duty Saturday at Club Space in Miami Beach when he noticed a silver Ferrari-which Combs was driving--blocking traffic outside the club.
When he asked Combs to move the car, Kowalski said the rapper peeled off, almost striking a pedestrian, the Herald said.
Combs then allegedly ran a red light and drove to the strip club Goldrush, where he ran in, leaving the car running with the door open. When officers searched the club, Combs was no where to be found. According to the Herald, several witnesses saw Combs run out the back door of the club, then flee north on Miami Avenue.
When police towed the Ferrari, which was registered to Atlanta record producer Dallas Austin, they found a joint in the ashtray. Police arrested Jovar A. Andrews, the cousin of rocker Lenny Kravitz, who was a passenger in Comb's car.
Charges are pending against Combs, the Herald quoted the police report as saying.
Andrews' lawyer, Alan Ginsberg, said that the joint does not belong to his client.
Miami Beach police arrested Combs in May for driving with a suspended license, but the charges were dropped after he proved his New York license had been reinstated.
The house from "The Blair Witch Project" is getting a new lease on life.
Originally scheduled for a meeting with a wrecking ball, Maryland's Department of Natural Resources has decided to spare the 200-year-old Griggs House in western Baltimore County. A lawyer for Haxan Films, which produced "Blair Witch," tells The Baltimore Sun that he thinks distributor Artisan Entertainment put up money with state officials to save the house.
The Griggs House, of course, was the dilapidated shack featured at the climax of the '99 horror hit. At least we think it was. Hard to tell. That friggin' camera was spinning too much.
FROM BRITAIN WITH LOVE: Sean Connery's got a new title -- and this time it's not Sexiest Man Alive.
No, that would be Sir Sean Connery to you. The original 007, along with Elizabeth Taylor and Julie Andrews, were among those knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in a New Year's Eve ceremony in Britain.
Actually, Taylor and Andrews are now officially "dames," not "knights." ("Dames" are titles for girls, "knights" are for boys.)
Other than adding an extra syllable to each of their names, we're not exactly sure what the fancy titles get Sir Sean, Dame Elizabeth and Dame Julie -- well, besides free tea and crumpets.
Name recognition? Not necessary. Oscars? Been there, done that. (Connery won for "The Untouchables," Andrews for "Mary Poppins," and Taylor for "Butterfield 8" and "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?")
Front-row tickets to the Rolling Stones? We're checking.
RECUPERATING: A "very, very tired" George Harrison will be spending the early part of the millennium recuperating at the house where he was stabbed Thursday.
The former Beatle, 56, was discharged from the Harefield Hospital in London on Saturday along with wife Olivia, who was also injured in the attack. Doctors assured Harrison he would make a full recovery, according to Reuters.
Meanwhile, Harrison's reputed attacker -- 33-year-old Michael Abram -- has been charged with attempted murder and ordered to undergo psychiatric treatment.
A NOT-SO PUFFY SUIT: Sean "Puffy" Combs might want to start designing a courthouse wardrobe under his clothing label, Sean John.
The oft-in-trouble rap mogul is in trouble again -- this time, thanks to a $100 million lawsuit filed by 27-year-old Julius Jones, one of three bystanders wounded by gunfire Dec. 27 at a Manhattan nightclub. The complaint was filed New Year's Eve in New York.
Combs, who made headlines with girlfriend/actress Jennifer Lopez after the two reputedly fled the shooting scene, was arrested on a weapons charge after a gun was found in his car. The music star has denied any wrongdoing.
GOODBYE, YELLOW BRICK ROAD: Harry Monty, one of the surviving supporting players from "The Wizard of Oz," died Dec. 28 at age 95, it has been reported.
The diminutive actor and stuntman, whose real name was Hymie Lichenstein, both helped and hounded Judy Garland in uncredited roles as a Munchkin and an evil winged monkey. He also had roles in "Planet of the Apes" and "Hello, Dolly!"