Moviegoers ate more Pie than anything else at the box office for a third straight weekend.
Universal's R rated youth appeal comedy hit sequel American Pie 2 held on to first place in its third week with a mouth-watering ESTIMATED $12.8 million (-39%) at 3,157 theaters (+85 theaters; $4,055 per theater). Pie 2, which cost about $30 million to make, has a cume of approximately $109.6 million, heading for $125-135 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, Sean William Scott, Mena Suvari, Eddie Kaye Thomas and Eugene Levy.
"It hasn't been done since Spy Kids," Universal distribution president Nikki Rocco said Sunday morning, pointing to Pie's three weeks atop the chart. Spy Kids, from Miramax's Dimension Films label, nailed down the top spot for three weeks from March 30 through April 15.
"It's a fitting way to end a great summer season for Universal," Rocco noted. "Plus, we broke $100 million with American Pie 2. With this kind of hold (it will go) past $125 million, that's for sure."
New Line Cinema's PG-13 rated action comedy blockbuster sequel Rush Hour 2 held on to second place in its fourth week with a still solid ESTIMATED $11.43 million (-40%) at 3,001 theaters (-79 theaters; $3,807 per theater). Its cume is approximately $183.3 million, heading for $210-215 million in domestic theaters.
Directed by Brett Ratner, it stars Jackie Chan and Chris Tucker.
"If it gets to $210 million, it will be the second biggest gross of the year after Shrek," New Line distribution president David Tuckerman said Sunday morning.
DreamWorks' animated summer blockbuster Shrek has grossed about $261.4 million to date. Universal's The Mummy Returns has done about $201.5 million through this weekend.
Dimension Films' R rated youth appeal comedy Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back kicked off in third place to a solid ESTIMATED $11.1 million at 2,765 theaters ($4,014 per theater).
Jay's average per theater was the highest for any film playing in wide release this weekend.
Jay had been flying high on Hollywood's advance radar screen, suggesting to some observers that it would open to a noisier $15 million or more. While the film was number one Friday with about $4.5 million, it fell by about 23 percent on Saturday to about $3.5 million, a clear sign that it was not going to hold on to the top spot.
Written and directed by Kevin Smith, it stars Smith, Ben Affleck, Shannon Elizabeth, Will Ferrell, Jason Lee, Jason Mewes and Chris Rock.
"Jay and Bob had a solid opening," David Kaminow, senior vice president, marketing for Dimension's parent company Miramax Films, said Sunday morning. "We were number one on Friday and obviously Kevin Smith has his diehard fans, who went out (to see it immediately). That's his core (audience) and I don't know how much he necessarily crosses over. We also snuck the picture last weekend and that gave his fans an opportunity to get in early. And that might have played a role in the (results this) weekend."
Asked who was on hand opening weekend, Kaminow replied, "It was young males. Young women and females (in general) weren't as strong as the males."
Dimension Films' PG-13 thriller The Others held on to fourth place as it continued to expand in its third week, still showing good legs with an ESTIMATED $8.6 million (-21%) at 2,436 theaters (+283 theaters; $3,530 per theater). Others, which cost only $17 million to make, has a cume of approximately $46.2 million.
Directed by Alejandro Amenabar, it stars Nicole Kidman.
"The Others is doing terrifically and it's holding terrifically," Miramax's Kaminow said.
Paramount's PG-13 comedy Rat Race fell two rungs in its second week to fifth place, still running hard with an ESTIMATED $8.3 million (-29%) at 2,551 theaters (+1 theater; $3,254 per theater). Its cume is approximately $25.6 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.
Warner Bros.' PG-13 baseball theme romantic comedy Summer Catch got on base in sixth place, opening to an ESTIMATED $7.54 million at 2,335 theaters ($3,227 per theater).
Directed by Mike Tollin and produced by Tollin, Brian Robbins and Sam Weisman, it stars Freddie Prinze, Jr., Jessica Biel and Matthew Lillard.
"I'm pleased with that opening," Warner Bros. Distribution president Dan Fellman said Sunday morning.
"The film had a very modest production cost (reportedly only about $19 million) and the exits with our core audience, which is females under 25, are very favorable. They scored 80 percent in the Top Two Boxes (excellent and very good) and the definite recommend is 66 percent."
Looking ahead, Fellman noted, "Next weekend, Labor Day weekend, the only two movies opening are R rated (MGM's suspense horror film Jeepers Creepers and Lions Gate Films' drama O). I think we'll hold well. We don't need a lot of money to make money on this movie and we should excel in the ancillary markets as his movies do."
Buena Vista/Disney's G rated family comedy hit The Princess Diaries slid two notches to seventh place in its fourth week, still holding well with an ESTIMATED $6.7 million (-30%) at 2,749 theaters (+23 theaters; $2,441 per theater). Its cume is approximately $82.5 million, heading for about $95 million in domestic theaters.
Directed by Garry Marshall, it stars Julie Andrews and Anne Hathaway.
Universal's Captain Corelli's Mandolin dropped two rungs to eighth place in its second week with an unexciting ESTIMATED $3.88 million (-46%) at 1,612 theaters (+17 theaters; $2,405 per theater). Its cume is approximately $14.0 million.
Directed by John Madden, it stars Nicolas Cage and Penelope Cruz.
Screen Gems' R rated sci-fi thriller John Carpenter's Ghosts of Mars opened quietly in ninth place to an ESTIMATED $3.8 million at 2,048 theaters ($1,855 per theater).
Directed by John Carpenter, it stars Ice Cube and Natasha Henstridge.
Rounding out the Top Ten was 20th Century Fox's PG-13 sci-fi action adventure Planet of the Apes, down three pegs in its fifth week with a slow ESTIMATED $3.53 million (-51%) at 1,927 theaters (-1,133 theaters; $1,832 per theater). Its cume is approximately $167.8 million, heading for $175-180 million in domestic theaters.
Directed by Tim Burton and produced by Richard D. Zanuck, it stars Mark Wahlberg, Tim Roth, Helena Bonham Carter and Michael Clarke Duncan.
This weekend also saw the arrival of DreamWorks Pictures' PG-13 rated comedy The Curse of the Jade Scorpion with a not-so-funny ESTIMATED $2.5 million at 903 theaters ($2,769 per theater).
Written and directed by Woody Allen, it stars Allen, Dan Aykroyd, Helen Hunt and Charlize Theron.
"It's very close to our expectations based on the mixed reviews, especially in Woody's core markets of New York and other large cities," DreamWorks distribution head Jim Tharp said Sunday morning.
Last summer DreamWorks released Allen's Small Time Crooks, which performed much better than the filmmaker's movies have done in recent years. "It opened to $3.8 million," Tharp said. "The reviews were good in the major markets."
Crooks, which opened May 19-21, 2000 to $3.88 million at 865 theaters ($4,486 per theater), wound up doing about $17.1 million in domestic theaters. "So this one will probably be more in line with the average of $8-10 million, which is what most of his films do," Tharp explained.
Buena Vista/Touchstone's PG-13 comedy Bubble Boy floated into theaters with a disappointing ESTIMATED $2.0 million at 1,605 theaters ($1,230 per theater).
Directed by Blair Hayes, it stars Jake Gyllenhaal and Swoosie Kurtz.
USA Films' R rated comedy Maybe Baby checked in with a quiet ESTIMATED $0.09 million at 2 theaters ($4,455 per theater).
Directed by Ben Elton, it stars Hugh Laurie and Joely Richardson.
There were no national sneak previews this weekend.
On the expansion front, this weekend saw Fox Searchlight Pictures R rated thriller The Deep End go wider in its third week with a still encouraging ESTIMATED $1.23 million at 208 theaters (+150 theaters; $5,890 per theater). Its cume is approximately $2.6 million.
Written produced and directed by Scott McGehee and David Siegel, it stars Tilda Swinton, Goran Visnjic and Jonathan Tucker.
"It was an excellent expansion," Fox Searchlight distribution president Stephen Gilula said Sunday morning. "We will be expanding further this weekend to over 250 theaters."
Gilula said he is, "thrilled at this expansion because to go this much wider we quadrupled our number of theaters and held very respectable screen averages. We've gone fairly deep into the country. We're in a lot of smaller cities (such as) Tucson, Syracuse and Tulsa, Oklahoma. And a lot of those cities actually did quite well. I'm very pleased with that."
Miramax's R rated Apocalypse Now Redux widened in its fourth week with a still promising ESTIMATED $0.39 million (-20%) at 62 theaters (+12 theaters; $5,863 per theater). Its cume is approximately $2.0 million.
Directed by Francis Ford Coppola, it stars Marlon Brando, Robert Duvall, Martin Sheen, Laurence Fishburne, Dennis Hopper and Harrison Ford.
MGM's release of United Artists' R rated youth appeal comedy Ghost World widened in its sixth week with a still lively ESTIMATED $0.35 million (-23%) at 64 theaters (+10 theaters; $5,525 per theater). Its cume is approximately $2.5 million.
Directed by Terry Swigoff, it stars Thora Birch, Scarlett Johansson, Brad Renfro, Illeana Douglas and Steve Buscemi.
Artisan's R rated comedy Made widened in its seventh week with a soft ESTIMATED $0.21 million (-44%) at 167 theaters (+6 theaters; $1,280 per theater). Its cume is approximately $4.1 million.
Written and directed by Jon Favreau, it stars Favreau, Vince Vaughn, Sean Combs, Famke Janssen, Faizon Love and Peter Falk.
On the international front, Universal celebrated a milestone as its Bridget Jones's Diary cracked $100 million. Bridget is only playing in 22 countries now and still has 60 percent of the international territories in which to open.
Bridget's opening this weekend in Germany gave it a terrific $1.4 million with 494 playdates. In the U.K., where it's now in its 20th week, Bridget's cume is $59.5 million, making it the sixth highest grossing movie ever in the U.K.
Bridget's next openings are Sept. 1 in Korea and Sept. 29 in Japan.
In its domestic theatrical run via Miramax, which made the $26 million film with Universal, Studio Canal and Working Title Films, Bridget grossed about $71.4 million.
Universal also saw its international release of Jurassic Park III hit $130 million. The film still has 18 countries in which to open, including Australia and Italy this coming weekend. With its domestic theatrical cume now at $172.6 million, JP III's worldwide cume is already at $302.6 million.
Key films -- those grossing more than $500,000 -- took in approximately $93.27 million, up about 8.94 per cent from the comparable weekend last year when key films grossed $85.62 million.
This weekend's key film gross was down about 15.49 per cent from last weekend this year when key films took in $110.37 million.
Last year, Universal's opening week of Bring It On was first with $17.36 million at 2,380 theaters ($7,295 per theater); and Warner Bros.' opening week of The Art of War was second with $10.41 million at 2,630 theaters ($3,959 per theater). The top two films one year ago grossed $27.8 million. This year, the top two films grossed an ESTIMATED $24.2 million.
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That green-eyed monster called jealousy rears its ugly head this Labor Day weekend, but whether it scares off the competition hinges upon the very controversy that kept it under lock and key for two years.
Tim Blake Nelson's "O" became an indirect victim of the recent rash of high school-related killings, with a wary Miramax constantly delaying its release following one shooting incident after another. Nelson took legal action, and Miramax eventually handed the teen drama over to Lions Gate. The reason: Nelson all too faithfully re-stages Shakespeare's Othello in a high school, with the deceit and treacherous unfolding on and off the basketball court with bloody consequences.
Though driven by a hip-hop soundtrack, and sporting a cast that includes teen heartthrobs Julia Stiles and Josh Hartnett, Nelson's "O" is a serious-minded and uncompromising adaptation of one of the Bard's greatest plays. Anyone who has read or seen the play knows that it ends tragically. As does "O", but not in a way that would summon up the terrible events at such schools as Columbine. Still, its climax proves the film's undoing, because what worked in a Renaissance-era Venice does not seem applicable to a 21st-centruy South Carolinian high school.
Lions Gate is clearly hoping lightning will strike twice. It scored a $30.6 million hit in Dogma after obtaining Kevin Smith's satirical religious epic from Miramax.
Hartnett, surprisingly convincing as a modern-day Iago, is hot after Pearl Harbor. Stiles is already a Shakespearean poster girl for starring in The Taming of the Shrew-inspired 10 Things I Hate About You and the New York-set Hamlet. She also is once again playing the race card. Her MTV-ish interracial romance Save the Last Dance boogied its way to a $91 million in January. Despite the presence of both, "O" may have trouble so much as matching Save the Last Dance's $23.4 million opening during its entire run.
Compounding "O"'s problems: a Labor Day weekend opening, a holiday notorious pathetically weak turnouts for new films; strong opposition in the form of lighthearted teen holdovers American Pie 2 and Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back; and the arrival of the Francis Ford Coppola-executive produced horror yarn Jeepers Creepers.
Jeepers Creepers may have the edge over "O" by virtue that it will play in 2,900-plus theaters. "O" will go out in about 1,400-plus theaters.
Not that Jeepers Creepers is going to have an easy time this weekend. The best Labor Day weekend opening came in 1996, when The Crow: City of Angels experienced a less-than-soaring $8.3 million over the four-day weekend.
Jeepers Creepers also faces a formidable foe in the The Others, whose Sixth Sense-like surprises has propelled the Nicole Kidman chiller to $48.8 million through Wednesday. Still, Jeepers Creepers should have the edge over John Carpenter's horror/sci-fi hybrid Ghosts of Mars, which crashed last weekend with $3.8 million and has scared up only $4.9 million through Wednesday.
Even with weak competition in "O" and Jeepers Creepers, current box office champ American Pie 2 might not succeed in its bid to be the last year's first film to enjoy its No. 1 status for four weeks. Rush Hour 2 reclaimed the box office top spot on Tuesday and Wednesday, with its total now at $186.9 million. The difference came down to a handful of dollars, but it nevertheless indicates that audiences might prefer to see Jackie Chan and Chris Tucker bust heads this weekend than watch Jason Biggs and Chris Klein try to score.
American Pie 2, with its total at $112 million through Wednesday, now ranks as one of those rare sequels to outgross--no pun intended--its predecessor. The same goes for Rush Hour 2, which could speed past $200 million this weekend.
Disney will reissue Pearl Harbor in the hope that the critically mauled World War II romance also will cross the $200 million barrier. Its total stands at $195.5 million. Disney also will give the animated Atlantis: The Lost Empire a second shot at glory. Atlantis' total: a disappointing $81.4 million.
Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back looks set to become Kevin Smith's biggest hit. The Hollywood spoof has generated $14.3 million through Wednesday, or just under half of what Dogma made in 1999.
Expect prompt disappearing acts from major flops Summer Catch, Captain Corelli's Mandolin and Bubble Boy.
Also, Woody Allen's The Curse of the Jade Scorpion isn't catching fire with anyone beyond his loyal followers. The screwball comedy opened last weekend in 902 theaters with a pitiful $2.4 million. In comparison, Small Time Crooks opened in May 2000 with $3.9 million at 865 theaters. Looks like Allen's been hit good and hard by a curse of his making.
Jay and Silent Bob look set to make some noise, noise, noise this weekend.
With more than a little help from their Tinseltown buddies, the less-than-dynamic duo will likely chew up, spit out and stomp all over that second serving of American Pie.
The competition is stiff--five new films open in wide release Friday--but the aggressively juvenile Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back should guarantee director Kevin Smith a smash ending to his View Askewniverse chronicles.
Smith's last film, 1999's controversial religious treatise Dogma, opened with $8.7 million on its way to a heavenly $30 million gross. That's more than Smith's previous low-budget comedies Clerks, Mallrats and Chasing Amy combined.
Smith's fifth film falls somewhere between the comically gritty realism of Clerks and the aggressively juvenile antics of Mallrats.
Jay and Silent Bob cross paths with almost all of young Hollywood--plus such veterans as George Carlin and Mark Hamill--in their crusade to thwart a Miramax production based on their comic-book alter egos, Bluntman and Chronic. That should attract those unfamiliar with Smith's world of convenience-store clerks, comic-book artists and loser stoners. Conversely, unfamiliar audiences also may end up confused as to why Ben Affleck plays two characters, including himself. This might prove problematic for Jay and Silent Bob's long-term prospects to entice the uninitiated to join them on their whacked-out journey to Hollywood.
Also, Smith recently fought off criticism by GLAAD that he imbued his road trip with a nasty homophobic streak. Having said that, the anti-Catholic accusations Smith faced with Dogma surely helped the otherwise difficult-to-market satire to score at the box office.
Woody Allen ventures forth with his latest screwball comedy, The Curse of the Jade Scorpion. Still very much an acquired taste after all these years, the archetypal New York neurotic did enjoy his biggest hits in ages last year with the DreamWorks-distributed Small Time Crooks. The Curse of the Jade Scorpion is hardly vintage Allen. The aging Woodman once again fires off one snappy line after another as he woos younger women--Helen Hunt and Charlize Theron- but the Jade Scorpion certainly lacks the crackle and pop of the Cary Grant-Irene Dunne comedies that it pays tribute to.
Allen's recent period pieces-humorous or otherwise, with or without him in the lead role-usually leave audiences cold. Also, Allen's last August release, Manhattan Murder Mystery, stalled at $11.2 million in 1993. Therefore, even with DreamWorks once again serving as Allen's benefactor, Jade Scorpion is unlikely to surpass Small Time Crooks' $17 million gross.
Like Allen, John Carpenter does not pose much of a threat to Smith. Carpenter unleashes Ghosts of Mars, with Ice Cube and Natasha Henstridge fending off possessed Martian mineworkers of the body-pierced variety. Ice Cube retains a strong following--augmented last year by Next Friday--which ensures Ghosts of Mars a modest though unspectacular opening.
Carpenter--once the undisputed master of horror sci-fi--desperately needs a hit. He's endured one flop after another in recent years, including In the Mouth of Madness, Village of the Damned, Escape from L.A. and Vampires. Ghosts of Mars-- an extremely cheap, humdrum and lazy sci-fi bloodbath--is not likely to reverse that trend. Carpenter also may alienate his hardcore fans once they realize that he shamelessly relocates his classic urban Western Assault on Precinct 13 to Mars.
Hollywood studios usually let out their dogs in late August to die a quick and painless death. That fate no doubt awaits the baseball-themed Summer Catch and the family comedy Bubble Boy.
Don't expect Freddie Prinze Jr. to register so much as a base hit with Summer Catch. Teen girls lost interest in Prinze immediately after the credits started to roll on 1999's surprise hit She's All That. Prinze's like-minded romantic comedies Down to You, Boys and Girls and Head Over Heels disappeared more quickly than you can howl "Scooby Doo, where are you?" Summer Catch will likely match Head Over Heels' $10.4 million gross, but strike out long before it can reach Boys and Girls' $20.7 million gross.
Since audiences can choose between Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back and Rat Race should they want to see a road movie, Bubble Boy will surely burst upon impact. Jake Gyllenhall stars a young boy suffering from primary immune deficiencies--hence his travel bubble--who takes to the road to seek out true love.
The days of $40 million-openings are over, at least for now. This could be the first weekend since Swordfish opened June 8 with $18.1 million that the No. 1 film has made less than $20 million.
Reigning champ American Pie 2 should lose its crusty crown this weekend, but it looks set to become the 12th film this year to make more than $100 million. The sequel stood at $96.8 million as of Thursday, and will likely exceed its predecessor's $101.8 million gross within days.
Rush Hour 2 continues making to make a beeline toward for $200 million. The Jackie Chan-Chris Tucker buddy yarn lost 43 percent last weekend-from $33.1 million to $19 million-but it still enjoyed a bigger third weekend than its closest box office rivals Planet of the Apes, Jurassic Park III and Pearl Harbor. Its total as of Thursday: $171.8 million.
Nicole Kidman emerged the victor in the catfight between the ex-Mrs. Cruise and Ms. Cruz.
Kidman's The Others enjoyed a $10.9 million second weekend--down a mere 23 percent from its opening weekend of $14 million. Its total as of Thursday: $37.5 million.
The sophisticated gothic yarn should hold its own against Ghosts of Mars, which will appeal more to those eager to see the red planet awash in blood.
Audiences displayed as much enthusiasm for Penelope Cruz romancing Nicolas Cage in Captain Corelli's Mandolin as they did for Cruz romancing Matt Damon in All the Pretty Horses. Which is none at all.
The World War II drama opened with a fair but unpromising $7.2 million, failing miserably to capitalize on the very public unveiling of Cruz and her new beau, Kidman's ex-husband, Tom Cruise. Its total as of Thursday: a very disappointing $10 million.
Rat Race started off slowly, with only $11.6 million in its opening weekend and $17.3 million as of Thursday. This millennial updating of It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World should crawl to a halt in the face of competition from Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back and The Curse of the Jade Scorpion.
The bounty on Jesse James' head sure doesn't add up to much. American Outlaws, starring Colin Farrell, opened with a pitiful $4.8 million and has corralled a mere $7 million as of Thursday.
The Princess Diaries looks set to surpass Legally Blonde as the summer's most popular non-action sleeper hit. The fairy tale, starring Julie Andrews, has $75.7 million in its royal vault as of Thursday. The peroxided, Reese Witherspoon-courtroom spoof has filed $84.7 million as of Thursday.
So what if The Princess Diaries and Legally Blonde did not enjoy blockbuster openings?
The female-driven comedies are displaying the longevity that the likes of Jurassic Park III and Planet of the Apes simply lack. As of Thursday, the former has taken $170.2 million while the latter has scrapped up $164.2 million. Neither will cross the $200 million mark, a disappointment considering that these very expensive blockbusters opened so dynamically.
If there is a lesson to be learned, it's that aspiring princess and lawyers have longer legs than cloned dinosaurs and evolutionarily superior simians.
A slew of new releases failed to take off at the box office over the weekend, as American Pie 2 held on to the top position for the third week in a row (only the third release to do so this year, after Hannibaland Spy Kids). The movie earned an estimated $12.8 million, to bring its total to $109.6 million. Rush Hour 2 remained in second place with $11.4 million, bringing its four-week total to $183.2 million. Kevin Smith's Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back opened in third place with $11.1 million, while the new Freddie Prinze movie, Summer Catch, placed sixth and John Carpenter's Ghosts of Mars opened ninth. Two other newcomers failed to make the top-ten list at all. Disney's Bubble Boy tanked with just $2 million, while Woody Allen's The Curse of the Jade Scorpion, which debuted on only 903 screens, earned a so-so $2.5 million.
The top ten films for the weekend, according to studio estimates compiled by Exhibitor Relations: 1. American Pie 2, $12.8 million; 2. Rush Hour 2, $11.4 million; 3. Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, $11.1 million; 4. The Others, $8.6 million; 5. Rat Race, $8.3 million; 6. Summer Catch, $7.5 million; 7. The Princess Diaries, $6.7 million; 8. Captain Corelli's Mandolin, $3.9 million; 9. John Carpenter's Ghosts of Mars, $3.8 million; 10. Planet of the Apes, $3.5 million.