Monsters, Inc. was still the fairest of them all in the weekend box office mirror, grossing a lively $46 million-plus.
The Buena Vista/Disney and Pixar computer animated blockbuster has already taken in nearly $123 million and is heading towards $200 million or more in domestic theaters. Monsters, Inc. fell by only about 26 percent in its second weekend, considerably less than the 35 percent drop insiders had expected.
Also helping to drive the weekend was 20th Century Fox's much stronger than anticipated second place opening of Shallow Hal to over $23 million. Based on Hollywood's advance radar screen, insiders were predicting a more shallow launch for Shallow Hal of $14-16 million on the low end and $18-20 million on the high end.
Key films continued to enjoy summer-like ticket sales. The weekend's total of about $121.5 million was up nearly 23 percent from last year's $98.9 million.
THE TOP TEN
Buena Vista/Disney and Pixar Animation Studios' G rated computer animated feature Monsters, Inc. remained atop the chart, holding extremely well with a very colorful ESTIMATED $46.2 million (-26%) at 3,269 theaters (+32 theaters; $14,124 per theater). Its cume is approximately $122.8 million.
Monsters, Inc. appears to be on the track to gross $200 million or more in domestic theaters. If it falls by about 50 percent next weekend with the arrival of blockbuster competition for the family audience from Warner Bros.' Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, it will still gross another $20-23 million. It should do another $20 million or so the following weekend over the extended Thanksgiving holiday period, which is typically the year's biggest family moviegoing weekend. That would put Monsters, Inc. somewhere in the $165-170 million range coming out of Thanksgiving and with the rest of the holiday season still ahead of it.
Monsters, Inc.'s average per theater was the highest for any film playing in wide or limited release this weekend. The film cracked $100 million on Saturday, its ninth day in release, making it the fastest animated film ever to join Hollywood's $100 Million Club.
Directed by Pete Docter, it was co-directed by Lee Unkrich and David Silverman and written by Andrew Stanton and Daniel Gerson.
"You know, comedy is king and this form of animation has just won the hearts of everybody," Buena Vista Distribution president Chuck Viane said Sunday morning. "We've played to 20 million people in the last nine or 10 days. I've got to think that the word of mouth is so good. I know the exits are (great), but when you see it take over like this--I mean, a $46 million weekend! Who'd have thunk it?"
Late last week Hollywood insiders were speculating that Monsters, Inc. would drop by about 35 percent and gross around $40 million in its second weekend. "At 35 percent, we would have been extremely happy," Viane noted. "Most monster openings like this usually are in the 40 percents and 50 percents (in terms of second weekend drops) and it's so nice to see the movie stay there."
Looking ahead, Viane pointed out, "With Harry Potter coming into the marketplace this weekend (via Warner Bros.), audiences around the country are going to have some really great choices and business is going to be fabulous. Lines beget lines (at the box office) and that is go good for our business right now. I'm happy Harry Potter's coming. There's just something about the roll our business is on right now. I can see them opening up to record numbers--whatever that number is--and I've been around long enough to know there's room for two or three movies in the marketplace very easily. Nobody puts everybody (else) out of business."
Focusing on who is going to see Monsters, Inc., Viane observed, "The thing that is just probably the most complimentary thing that's happened to our movie is the tremendous adult interest (we're seeing). They're coming out at all those late evening shows. You don't do $20 million (as Monsters, Inc. did on Saturday) on matinees. There's no question we had another fabulous set of evenings. I would think today in L.A. will be something special simply because of the overcast day (on the weather front)."
Viane also emphasized the importance of Monsters, Inc. to the industry in terms of getting trailers for upcoming films seen by a huge audience. "You think about the number of really good movies that have trailers on the front of our movie," he said. "You're sitting there having 20 million (pairs of) eyeballs seeing something that they're going to want to come back in the next month or two to see again and that can only be good for all of us. You look at Snow Dogs, Harry Potter, Jimmy Neutron, The Rookie, (the reissue of) E.T. and Return to Neverland. They're all the beneficiary of their trailers playing on Monsters, Inc. and that's great news.
"And Harry Potter's going to do the same exact thing for everybody. Everyone who is lucky enough to get (a trailer) placed on the front of that picture is going to have a record number of people seeing it and whetting their appetites for the future. And that's what our business is all about."
20th Century Fox's PG-13 rated romantic comedy Shallow Hal arrived in second place to a deeply satisfying ESTIMATED $23.28 million at 2,771 theaters ($8,401 per theater).
Directed by Bobby Farrelly and Peter Farrelly, it stars Gwyneth Paltrow and Jack Black.
"Hal surpassed my expectations and my hopes," Fox distribution president Bruce Snyder said Sunday morning. "With Monsters, Inc. being monstrous in the marketplace to come in and do $23 million and change behind them is just great!"
When I reminded Snyder that late last week some insiders were projecting an $18-20 million opening for Shallow Hal, he replied, "I would laugh at them except I was saying the same thing. And tracking would even have indicated less than that. It could have been $16 million.
"The reality is that since Sept. 11 we really haven't been able to read tracking. It has been kind of false numbers. Monsters, Inc. should only have opened to $40 million if you went by the tracking (instead of $62.6 million). Right now, it's almost a frivolous question to ask somebody, 'Are you going to go to a movie this weekend?' with world conditions as they are. It doesn't mean that they're not going. It just means the question's a little strange. You almost feel silly saying, 'Oh, yeah, I can't wait to see Shallow Hal' rather than, 'Oh, my God, I hope they're not going to be bombing us.' But it doesn't change the fact that you're going to go (see a movie). It's a healthy marketplace."
Asked where Shallow Hal seems headed in domestic theaters given this strong start, Snyder said, "Certainly, $75 million. I'm looking at the bump from Friday to Saturday, which tells me something about playability. We were up 26 percent on opening weekend. That's very good. So I think we're in for a run."
Revolution Studios and Columbia Pictures' PG-13 rated sci-fi action adventure The One slipped one notch to third place in its second week with a slower ESTIMATED $9.1 million (-52%) at 2,894 theaters (theater count unchanged; $3,144 per theater). Its cume is approximately $31.9 million.
Directed by James Wong, it stars Jet Li.
"We'll hang in there certainly and up with $55-60 million, which will be very profitable for us. It cost $42 million," Sony Pictures Entertainment worldwide marketing & distribution president Jeff Blake said Sunday morning.
"We had openings in (some of the) smaller territories in Asia--Singapore, Malaysia, the Philippines and Hong Kong--and all were strong number one openings. So not only has it been very good here, it certainly looks to have great appeal overseas, as well."
Paramount's PG-13 rated thriller Domestic Disturbance fell one peg to fourth place in its second week with a calm ESTIMATED $8.5 million (-39%) at 2,910 theaters (theater count unchanged; $2,921 per theater). Its cume is approximately $26.0 million.
Directed by Harold Becker, it stars John Travolta.
Asked where Domestic Disturbance is heading in domestic theaters, Paramount distribution president Wayne Lewellen said Sunday morning, "The low $40 millions probably--maybe $45 million. We'll see how it holds up. There's a lot of heavyweights coming in (to the marketplace shortly)."
Franchise Pictures' R rated thriller Heist, released through Warner Bros., arrived in fifth place to an okay ESTIMATED $8.01 million at 1,891 theaters ($4,236 per theater).
Written and directed by David Mamet, it stars Gene Hackman, Danny DeVito and Delroy Lindo.
"It's probably one of the best reviewed movies of the year," Warner Bros. Distribution executive vice president Jeff Goldstein said Sunday morning. "We've had good audience reaction so we should be able to hold well through the Thanksgiving holiday.
"It's a significant movie for David Mamet. It's his most commercial film and his widest release to date, so it probably should be his biggest box office gross, too. I'm guessing that we'll probably get somewhere in the $20 millions and that probably will double his biggest commercial film prior to that, which is a very small art film called The Spanish Prisoner, which I loved. It was really well done."
Universal and Intermedia Films' PG-13 rated drama K-PAX fell two rungs in its third week to sixth place with a quiet ESTIMATED $6.25 million (-38%) at 2,581 theaters (+36 theaters; $2,420 per theater). Its cume is approximately $40.3 million.
Directed by Iain Softley, it stars Kevin Spacey and Jeff Bridges.
Warner Bros. and Columbia Pictures' Thirteen Ghosts, a low budget Dark Castle Entertainment production, dropped two slots to seventh place in its third week with a less frightening ESTIMATED $4.18 million (-47%) at 2,351 theaters (-430 theaters; $1,776 per theater). Its cume is approximately $34.0 million, heading for about $37 million in domestic theaters.
Directed by Steve Beck, it stars Tony Shalhoub, Embeth Davidtz, Matthew Lillard, Shannon Elizabeth, Rah Digga and F. Murray Abraham.
New Line Cinema went wide in its third week with its R rated drama Life As A House, placing eighth with an unexciting ESTIMATED $3.68 million at 1,288 theaters (+1,200 theaters; $2,853 per theater). Its cume is approximately $4.9 million.
Directed by Irwin Winkler, it stars Kevin Kline and Kristin Scott Thomas.
Columbia's PG-13 rated comedy drama Riding In Cars With Boys fell three rungs in its fourth week to ninth place with a dull ESTIMATED $2.1 million (-48%) at 2,182 theaters (-372 theaters; $962 per theater). Its cume is approximately $27.8 million on its way to $33-35 million in domestic theaters.
Directed by Penny Marshall, it stars Drew Barrymore.
Rounding out the Top Ten was Warner Bros.' fifth week of its R rated hit police corruption drama Training Day, which was eighth last week, with a quiet ESTIMATED $1.94 million (-37%) at 1,407 theaters (-358 theaters; $1,375 per theater). Its cume is approximately $72.5 million, heading for about $76 million in domestic theaters.
Directed by Antoine Fuqua, the Warner Bros. presentation in association with Village Roadshow Pictures and NPV Entertainment stars Denzel Washington and Ethan Hawke.
There were no other major openings this weekend.
There were no national sneak previews this weekend.
On the expansion front this weekend saw USA Films' R rated black and white drama The Man Who Wasn't There go wider in its second week with a hopeful ESTIMATED $0.92 million at 169 theaters (+130 theaters; $5,470 per theater). Its cume is approximately $1.8 million.
Directed by Joel Coen and written by Joel Coen and Ethan Coen, it stars Billy Bob Thornton and Frances McDormand.
Miramax Zoe Films' R rated French comedy Amelie expanded in its second week with an encouraging ESTIMATED $0.73 million at 48 theaters (+45 theaters; $15,208 per theater. Its cume is approximately $1.0 million.
Directed by Jean-Pierre Jeunet, it stars Audrey Tautou.
Fox Searchlight's R rated animated feature Waking Life added theaters in its fourth week with an okay ESTIMATED $0.25 million at 62 theaters (+5 theaters; $3,770 per theater). Its cume is approximately $1.1 million.
Written and directed by Richard Linklater, Waking Life is a likely candidate in the new best animated feature Oscar category.
"We're very pleased at how the film continued to expand into the regional markets," Fox Searchlight distribution president Stephen Gilula said Sunday morning. "It's a very challenging film and there's an audience out there that embraced it. It held extremely well in a number of the big cities where it's in its fourth week. We'll be expanding it to another 35 cities this weekend, so we'll be in over 100 theaters in about 75 markets going into Thanksgiving."
Universal International reported Sunday morning that its American Pie 2 enjoyed a strong number one opening in Taiwan Saturday. The first day's gross in Taipei was $90,000 on 16 screens, comparing very favorably to the studio's first day gross of $23,000 for its hit Road Trip on 14 screens in Taipei. American Pie 2 is playing on 48 screens in Taiwan. The original American Pie opened with 42 prints and grossed $122,000 in Taiwan.
In Germany American Pie 2 ranked sixth in its seventh week with a three day gross of $350,000 (-20%). Its cume is $28.7 million. American Pie 2 is Universal's biggest film in Germany this year and is UIP's all time fifth biggest release there.
In the U.K. American Pie 2 had a two day gross of $625,000 on 356 screens. It ranks third for the weekend after previews of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone with $5 million on 477 screens and the second week of The Others with $1.7 million on 377 screens. American Pie 2's 30-day cume is $23.8 million. The sequel has already grossed more than the first American Pie, which did $22.3 million in the U.K.
American Pie 2's international cume is $97 million with 19 countries still to open.
Universal's The Fast and the Furious is in its fourth week in Germany, where its three day gross was $350,000, down 60% from the previous holiday weekend. It ranked seventh at the box office and has a cume of $7.1 million.
The Fast and the Furious's international cume is $56 million with seven countries still to open.
Bridget Jones's Diary, which Universal and Miramax co-financed, passed $195 million at the international box office this weekend. Universal is releasing Bridget internationally and Miramax distributed it domestically.
Key films--those grossing more than $500,000--took in approximately $121.48 million, up about 22.84 per cent from the comparable weekend last year when key films grossed $98.89 million.
This weekend's key film gross was down about 13.14 percent from last weekend of this year, when key films took in approximately $139.86 million.
Last year, Columbia's second week of Charlie's Angels was first with $24.61 million at 3,037 theaters ($8,102 per theater); and New Line's opening week of Little Nicky was second with $16.06 million at 2,910 theaters ($5,520 per theater). The top two films one year ago grossed $40.7 million. This year, the top two films grossed an ESTIMATED $69.5 million.
Likely you’ve seen the promos featuring co-hosts Shawn and Marlon Wayans dressed up as Venus and Serena Williams. Maybe you flipped through the channels Thursday and caught the reruns of last year’s show, "behind the scenes" insights, "TRL" live from the show, the countdown to the pre-show (called the Opening Act), the actual Opening Act, the …. Well, you get the picture.
Those folks at MTV really put on an Oscar-size display hyping their Video Music Awards, but this year’s telecast lacked the style, zip, even poignance of last year’s millennial ceremony.
The performance lineup had its blasts and pyrotechnics, but mostly failed to generate any real excitement. Janet Jackson’s face was masked by her hair throughout the entirety of "Doesn’t Really Matter"; Nelly ran around the stage with his pants hanging to his knees; Sisqo brought his Dru Hill bandmates at the end of his solo number, but it was for little longer than a chorus; and Britney Spears … well, more about her later.
'N Sync The big winners of the evening, Eminem and 'N Sync, were more successful, the latter performing with TV screens in front of their heads for half of their medley routine. Blink-182 closed the evening with a bang.
But in case you missed the awards -- and you won’t, really, because they’ll rerun it five million more times -- here are some highlights:
Rage Against the Machine SOY BOMB RETURNS? During Limp Bizkit’s acceptance speech for Best Rock Video ("Break Stuff"), there was suddenly a commotion. As black-clothed security bounded onstage, everyone saw a lone figure rocking back and forth on the 15-foot high set piece directly behind the podium, close to knocking it over and demolishing the band. The band jokingly urged the man to jump, then continued their speech. Turns out the guy was not a crazed fan, but a crazed rival: Rage Against the Machine bassist Tim C., whose group was nominated in the same category. The commotion disrupted the awards as the show struggled to continue while security tried to coax him down. Tim C. and an event security worker for the band were removed from the venue in handcuffs by police.
MAKING NICE, PART I: Who’d ever have thought a boy band compliment would come from Kid Rock? While there were no grand political or social commentaries made this year, the "Cowboy" singer arrived to present an award with wrestler The Rock and took that time to make a political statement of his own. "No offense to the Backstreet Boys, but the commercial that 'N Sync did for McDonald's was way cooler than the one that the Backstreet Boys did for Burger King," he joked (we assume) with a straight face.
Limp Bizkit MAKING NICE, PART II: Earlier in the day, it was reported that Christina Aguilera closed her run-through to the press so they wouldn’t know the identity of her "secret guest," who turned out to be none other than Limp Bizkit’s Fred Durst. After finishing a boppy performance of "Come on Over Baby," Durst ran up on stage, grabbed the mike, started rapping and Aguilera began headbanging her peroxide blond-and-red-streaked hair and yelling along.
Why was this weird? Because both were the subject of Eminem’s "The Real Slim Shady," where the rapper says Durst and MTV VJ Carson Daly of "TRL" fame argued over who Aguilera, um, serviced first. Aguilera was enraged by the lyrics and was upset at Durst for appearing in the accompanying video. Says Eminem of this trend of sunny pop and angry rock putting aside their differences: "I don’t have any differences with them. I just don’t like them."
Britney Spears MAKING NICE, PART III: Teen divas Aguilera and Spears appeared arm in arm at the close of the evening, the first time anyone’s seen these two buddying up since their days on "The Mickey Mouse Club." Luckily, they were not there to present Eminem’s Video of the Year Award (which the rapper says he was very relieved about), but to introduce surprise presenter Whitney Houston. Ironically, as frequent jail-bird hubby Bobby Brown appeared to give away the trophy, Houston began singing "Free! Free!"
Eminem THE SCARIEST VISUAL IN NYC: Take your pick. There was Eminem singing "The Real Slim Shady" while leading hundreds of stony lookalikes down the streets of New York, into the Radio City Music Hall and on to the stage (Marlon Wayans called it the "million white man march"). Or there was Spears’ illusional flesh-colored top and pants, which made one pay no attention to her performance but merely wonder, "Is she naked? Is that just see-through? Is she wearing a sequin bikini and nothing else? Is she going Vegas showgirl?"
THE SCARIEST VISUAL IN NYC, PART II: The Wayans brothers, no doubt plucked after their successful "Scary Movie," bombed as co-hosts. Opening the show with a spoof of last year’s host, Chris Rock, only made us miss him. And in a fit of desperation, Marlon finally dropped his pants and bared his buns to the crowd to close their opening monologue. They also showed taped sketches on Napster and Macy Gray’s ‘fro … which was parlayed into jokes about her "bush" … which, when depicted by Marlon, is not something you want to see on primetime television (or any television, for that matter).
ADVICE FOR NEXT YEAR’S SHOW: Don’t invite DMX to perform (for the second year in a row, the rapper was invited and pulled out at the last minute). Stop with the strange presenter pairings (Lil’ Kim and the thug from "The Sopranos"?). Teach your presenters how to pronounce the winner’s name (Ricky Martin called Aaliyah "Uh-LIE-ah"). And please, please, PLEASE get Jim Carrey to host next year (his ad-lib appearance was the single funniest moment of the night).
At least we won’t see any gross-out spoofs. Wait, nevermind.