Cats and Dogs reigned at the box office, fetching $21.6 million in ticket sales for Warner Bros.
Also driving the post-July Fourth weekend were high impact arrivals for Dimension Films' Scary Movie 2 and 20th Century Fox's Kiss of the Dragon and very encouraging sneaks for MGM's Legally Blonde.
The PG rated family appeal comedy Cats and Dogs from Warner Bros., Village Roadshow Pictures and NPV Entertainment, combining live action with animation and special effects, captured first place with a purr-fectly beautiful ESTIMATED $21.6 million at 3,040 theaters ($7,240 per theater). Its cume after five days is approximately $35.7 million.
Cats opened Wednesday (July Fourth) with a slim lead over the holiday's other new wide release, the R rated Scary Movie 2 from Miramax's Dimension Films label. Both films benefited from widespread rain across the United States on July Fourth with Cats doing $9.02 million and Scary Movie 2scaring up $8.75 million. On Thursday, July 5 Scary Movie 2 took in $5.26 million while Cats grossed $5.03 million.
Cats' average per theater was the highest for any film playing in wide release this weekend.
"The great thing about Cats and Dogs is that it's been playing so well for family audiences," Warner Bros. Distribution president Dan Fellman said Sunday morning. "We're going to be around for a long time. You know, with all the movies coming in, there's really nothing for the young kids."
Focusing on Cats' first five days business, Fellman noted, "This gross beats the first seven days of Space Jam, which grossed $32 million for the week. That's been our largest Warner family film in our company's history. That went on to do $90 million (in domestic theaters). Just trying to look at something similar, Stuart Little, it grossed $27 million its whole first week. That went on to do $139 million (domestically). So I think we have a really good chance of exceeding the $100 million mark since we had such a great start.
"I assume we're going to do at least $40 million for the first week. And we have all this summer play time. We opened Space Jam at Thanksgiving so it didn't have the benefit of having a Saturday every single day (the way summer releases do)."
Dimension Films launched its R rated horror film spoof sequel Scary Movie 2 in second place with a killer ESTIMATED $21.0 million at 3,220 theaters ($6,521 per theater). Its cume after five days is approximately $34.5 million.
Directed by Keenen Ivory Wayans, it stars Shawn Wayans, Marlon Wayans, Anna Faris, Regina Hall, Chris Masterson and Kathleen Robertson.
The original Scary Movie opened last July 9 to $42.35 million at 2,912 theaters ($14,542 per theater). It cost about $19 million to produce and went on to gross about $157 million in domestic theaters.
"We're very happy with the opening," Miramax senior vice president, marketing David Kaminow said Sunday morning. "It's good enough that Bob (Weinstein, co-chairman of Miramax and head of the Dimension label) this morning is already talking about, maybe, another sequel. With this kind of opening we might see Scary Movie 3.
"Scary Movie 2 is poised to be the third highest week in the history of the company (after) Scary Movie and Scream 3. Obviously, from that we're very, very happy from a corporate standpoint. With $34.5 million in five days -- the budget was in the mid-$40 millions roughly -- we're in really good shape here."
Who was on hand this weekend? "Demographically it was pretty even male-female," Kaminow replied. "African-American audiences are really responding very, very well to the film. We think the play there is going to be long. And 18 to 24 is the solid core group, (which) is not surprising. The African-American (exit) scores were above average -- the Top Two Boxes in the 80 percents and the Definite Recommend in the low 80 percents as well, which is a great place to be.
Warner Bros. and DreamWorks' PG-13 rated sci-fi fantasy adventure A.I. Artificial Intelligence slid two pegs to third place in its second week with a quieter ESTIMATED $14.15 million (-52 percent) at 3,242 theaters (theater count unchanged; $4,363 per theater). Its cume is approximately $59.7 million.
Written and directed by Steven Spielberg, it was produced by Kathleen Kennedy, Spielbergand Bonnie Curtis. Starring are Haley Joel Osment, Jude Law, Frances O'Connor, Brendan Gleeson and William Hurt.
"A.I. continues the pattern of other huge films that opened this summer," Warners' Dan Fellman said. "Fast and the Furious dropped 50 percent (its second weekend) and Tomb Raider dropped 59 percent. And both movies have already exceeded $100 million at the box office. I think we'll settle in and we'll play fine. We needed to settle in this week. We'll just continue to play. There's still a tremendous amount of interest in the movie and people are continuing to talk about it. We have our adult audience and they'll continue to drive the movie for quite a while."
20th Century Fox's R rated action drama Kiss of the Dragon kicked off in fourth place with a muscular ESTIMATED $13.64 million at 2,025 theaters ($6,736 per theater).
Directed by Chris Nahon, it stars Jet Li and Bridget Fonda.
"We're very pleased with it," Fox distribution president Bruce Snyder said Sunday morning. "It's in the area where we were hoping to be."
Noting that it's an extremely competitive marketplace, Snyder added, "It's even hard to figure out how much of a holiday or non-holiday this weekend was, the way the Fourth fell. But it looks like a real solid weekend. We've got six movies doing over $10 million this weekend."
Universal's PG-13 action drama The Fast and the Furious fell three rungs to fifth place in its third week with a slower ESTIMATED $12.4 million (-38 percent) at 2,804 theaters (+81 theaters; $4,405 per theater). Fast, which cost a modest $38 million, has a cume of approximately $101.5 million.
Directed by Rob Cohen and produced by Neal H. Moritz, it stars Paul Walker, Vin Diesel, Michelle Rodriguez and Jordana Brewster.
20th Century Fox and Davis Entertainment's PG rated comedy sequel Dr. Dolittle 2 dropped three notches to sixth place in its third week with a less funny ESTIMATED $10.1 million (-36 percent) at 3,022 theaters (-31 theaters; $3,342 per theater). Its cume is approximately $71.5 million, heading for $100-105 million in domestic theaters.
Directed by Steve Carr and produced by John Davis, it stars Eddie Murphy.
Paramount and Mutual Film Company's PG-13 rated action adventure Lara Croft: Tomb Raider slipped three slots in its fourth week with a weaker ESTIMATED $6.8 million (-33 percent) at 3,010 theaters (-339 theaters; $2,259 per theater). Its cume is approximately $115.6 million, heading for $130 million in domestic theaters.
Directed by Simon West, Tomb stars Angelina Jolie.
DreamWorks' PG rated computer animated blockbuster Shrek dropped one rung to eighth place in its eighth week, still holding well with an ESTIMATED $6.0 million (-22 percent) at 2,107 theaters (-597 theaters; $2,855 per theater). Its cume is approximately $240.6 million heading for $250 million-plus in domestic theaters.
Directed by Andrew Adamson and Vicky Jenson, its voice talents include Mike Myers, Eddie Murphy, Cameron Diaz and John Lithgow.
Buena Vista/Disney's PG rated animated feature Atlantis fell three pegs in its fifth week to ninth place with a less turbulent ESTIMATED $5.0 million (-39 percent) at 2,272 theaters (-758 theaters; $2,201 per theater). Its cume is approximately $69.4 million.
Directed by Gary Trousdale and Kirk Wise, its voice talents include Michael J Fox, James Garner, Cree Summer and Leonard Nimoy.
Rounding out the Top Ten was Columbia's R rated African-American appeal drama Baby Boy, down five pegs in its second week and packing less punch with an ESTIMATED $4.8 million (-44 percent) at 1,533 theaters (theater count unchanged; $3,131 per theater). Made for about $16 million, its cume is approximately $20.8 million, heading for a profitable $30 million in domestic theaters.
Written, produced and directed by John Singleton, it stars Tyrese Gibson, Snoop Dogg and Ving Rhames.
This weekend also saw Lions Gate Films' unrated erotic drama Lost and Delirious arrive to a not very arousing ESTIMATED $0.045 million at 7 theaters ($6,440 per theater).
Directed by Lea Pool, it stars Piper Perabo.
Miramax's R rated comedy Everybody's Famous opened to a quiet ESTIMATED $0.017 million at 4 theaters ($4,250 per theater).
Written and directed by Dominique Deruddere, it stars Josse De Pauw.
"That goes to about 10 runs on Friday," Miramax's David Kaminow said.
This weekend saw MGM hold very encouraging sneak previews Friday night at about 818 theaters of its PG-13 rated comedy Legally Blonde.
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. Produced by Platt and Ric Kidney, its screenplay by Karen McCullah Lutz & Kirsten Smith is based on the book by Amanda Brown.
Blonde will open Friday at over 2,000 theaters.
MGM said Blonde was sneaked in 101 markets, playing to 75 percent of capacity and that 50 percent of its showings were sold out. Those on hand for the sneaks were 25 percent under the age of 18 and 45 percent between 18 and 25. Women accounted for about two-thirds of the ticket sales.
"It was really a very, very good sneak," MGM marketing and distribution president Bob Levin said Sunday morning. "Very strong. In the exits we do, we've got close to 90 percent in the Top Two Boxes (excellent and very good) and a very strong over-75 percent Definite Recommend. Those are the kind of numbers you really hope you get in sneaks because you're trying to drive word of mouth and those are the kind of numbers you need to drive word of mouth. So we're very pleased."
Levin, a well regarded industry veteran who previously headed marketing at Sony Pictures Entertainment and Disney, joined MGM in late June as the studio's distribution and marketing chief.
Asked how the idea of sneaking Blonde came about, Levin explained, "What happened is we had a great reaction to the film at the premiere (held on June 26) and it was one of the exhibitors who happened to mention it to one of our distribution executives and it seemed like a great idea. So we immediately decided to adopt it (and thought) we should sneak it. This is the perfect kind of movie to sneak, where you aren't being driven by a huge potential fixed marketing opening but you have a movie that really plays well. So why not sneak it?"
Who is the target audience for Blonde? "Well, certainly more female than male," Levin replied. "But we have found in the exits we've done that actually guys like the movie as well, but it has to be (regarded as) slightly more female than male. What has been shown through these sneaks is that the actual likeability of the film is across a broad spectrum -- from even pre-teens all the way through what we categorize as older women (those 30 and older)."
Although the marketplace is crowded with product, there's really nothing like Blonde in theaters now. "I think that's why we have a tremendous opportunity," Levin observed. "And that's why the sneaks made sense because we get to advance the word of mouth. This kind of response that these numbers suggest is the response you get where people show up Monday at work or school or camp or wherever they are and really talk about the movie. So it's great on that kind of basis. I think, hopefully, we really do have sort of a unique offering in the marketplace right now."
Blonde marks the start of what could be a strong second half of the year for MGM. "I think we're about ready to, hopefully, do some very good business through the end of the year on a number of different films," Levin noted.
Among the releases upcoming via MGM are the suspense thriller Original Sin, directed by Michael Christofre and starring Angelina Jolie and Antonio Banderas, and the horror genre film Jeepers Creepers, directed by Victor Salva and starring Gina Philips, both opening in August.
Arriving in September is the drama Deuces Wild, directed by Scott Kalvert and starring Fairuza Balk, Stephen Dorff and Matt Dillon.
October will bring Bandits, directed by Barry Levinson and starring Bruce Willis, Cate Blanchett and Billy Bob Thornton, and Killing Me Softly, directed by Chen Kaige and starring Heather Graham and Joseph Fiennes.
In November MGM has the action adventure Windtalkers, directed by John Woo and starring Nicolas Cage, Adam Beach and Christian Slater.
The studio's action adventure fantasy Rollerball, directed by John McTiernan and starring Chris Klein, L.L. Cool J and Jean Reno, was recently moved from August to early next year.
On the expansion front, this weekend saw Fox Searchlight's R rated critically acclaimed British crime thriller Sexy Beast continue to widen in its fourth week, still showing good legs with an ESTIMATED $0.71 million (even) at 134 theaters (+25 theaters; $5,325 per theater). Its cume is approximately $3.1 million.
Directed by Jonathan Glazer, it stars Ray Winstone and Ben Kingsley.
"We feel very good," Fox Searchlight distribution president Stephen Gilula said Sunday morning. "We opened a lot of new smaller markets that did quite well. In the fourth week, we're holding extremely well and we're quite pleased. The film seems to be settling in and getting good word of mouth. The holdovers still did quite nicely. The holdovers fell less than 20 percent, so we're very pleased with that."
Where does it go from here? "Well, this week we add another round of theaters," Gilula replied. "We're going to add 30 screens and go into another 20 markets or so, a bunch of smaller cities (like) Albuquerque, Pittsburgh, Boise, Buffalo and we'll just keep going. As long as the momentum continues, we'll just keep expanding every week. We'll probably get up to, I would think, around 200 runs. Some of the smaller runs will come off, but we'll just keep moving the prints around the country."
With its cume now at about $3.1 million, Gilula said, "We're clearly going to get past $5 million, which for this film will be very successful for us. It's already a financial success for us. My estimate goes up a little each week because of how well the runs are holding in the big cities."
Fine Line Features' R rated comedy The Anniversary Party went a little wider in its fifth week with a still bubbly ESTIMATED $0.45 million (+9 percent) at 107 theaters (+4 theaters; $4,245 per theater). Its cume is approximately $2.6 million.
Written and directed by Alan Cumming and Jennifer Jason Leigh, its ensemble cast includes Jane Adams, Jennifer Beals, Phoebe Cates, Alan Cumming, Kevin Kline, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Gwyneth Paltrow, Parker Posey and John C. Reilly.
Lions Gate Films' PG-13 rated drama Songcatcher continued to widen in its fourth week with a dull ESTIMATED $0.25 million at 67 theaters (+30 theaters; $3,690 per theater). Its cume is approximately $0.61 million.
Directed by Maggie Greenwald, it stars Janet McTeer and Aidan Quinn.
Miramax's R rated French comedy The Closet went wider in its second week with a still promising ESTIMATED $0.21 million at 16 theaters (+12 theaters; $13,043 per theater). Its cume is approximately $0.38 million.
Directed by Francis Veber, it stars Daniel Auteuil, Gerard Depardieu, Thierry Lhermitte and Michele Laroque.
"This Friday it will probably expand to about 30 to 40 runs," Miramax's David Kaminow said.
Key films -- those grossing more than $500,000 -- took in approximately $129.3 million, down about 6.45 percent from the comparable weekend last year when key films grossed $138.2 million.
This weekend's key film gross was up about 5.42 percent from last weekend this year when key films took in $122.65 million.
Last year, Dimension Films' opening week of Scary Movie was first with $42.35 million at 2,912 theaters ($14,542 per theater); and Warner Bros.' second week of The Perfect Storm was second with $27.12 million at 3,407 theaters ($7,960 per theater).The top two films one year ago grossed $69.4 million. This year, the top two films grossed an ESTIMATED $43.0 million.
August is the time of year when cable television's innovator of "reality" shows, The Discovery Channel, encourages us to turn our thoughts to the possibility of being eaten alive by giant fish. That's right, the 13th annual "Shark Week" kicks off today. This year, perhaps feeling the pressure to outperform all the newer reality shows in the ratings, we move a step closer to actually feeding the documentary filmmakers directly to the animals in "Giants: Sharks" (today at 10 p.m. PDT).
The cages are removed and the supersmart marine biologists voluntarily swim with Great Whites in the open ocean. "Shark Week -- Uncaged," a full seven days of docs (unlike NBC's "West Wing Week" which only lasted for three days) officially kicks off today at 9 p.m. PDT with "Sharks 3D." Yes, you'll need to get the glasses.
Tom Selleck "Running Mates" (premiering today at 8 p.m. PDT), an original made-for-cable comedy about an aspiring presidential candidate (Tom Selleck) clearly demonstrates two things we've suspected for quite sometime. First, movies about political conventions are always more interesting than actual political conventions. And second, yes, Selleck does look kind of weird without the moustache.
Faye Dunaway ("Bonnie and Clyde") and Teri Hatcher ("Lois and Clark" and those Radio Shack commercials with ex-football player turned actor Howie Long) costar as two of the many women in Selleck’s life.
On Tuesday, television finally gets around to figuring out some way to glorify stockbrokers as TNT premieres its original dramatic series "Bulls" (8 p.m. PDT and encoring all night).
A bunch of hip, young, idealistic stockbrokers (no, seriously) led by Robert "Ditto" Roberts III ("Father of the Bride") defect from Ditto's" not so young and decidedly unhip grandfather's firm to start their own (young and hip) brokerage firm. Uh, sounds really, really cool. Stanley Tucci ("Big Night") also stars.
Kurt Angle A couple of weeks ago, live coverage by all three major networks of Republican presidential candidate George W. Bush's acceptance speech propelled "WWF Smackdown!" (Thursday at 8 p.m. PDT on UPN) to one of its highest ratings of the year.
This Thursday, another very important speech, this time from Democratic presidential candidate Al Gore, will likely raise the awareness of professional wrestling on UPN to an even higher level. If you don't normally watch on nights without coverage of political conventions, you'll need to get caught up. There is trouble in paradise as the marriage between evil ex-champ Hunter Hearst Helmsley and Stephanie McMahon-Helmsley, the beautiful but similarly evil daughter of evil promoter Vince McMahon, has run into a potential snag. It seems that Hunter is jealous of Stephanie's relationship with evil Olympic hero Kurt Angle.
Fair warning: If you don't want this show to become an (evil) habit, you'd better play it safe and stick with the vice president.
Chris Rock Finally this week, the long awaited return of "The Chris Rock Show" (Friday at 12 a.m. PDT on HBO) happens. The most thought-provoking, irreverent and funniest comic working today begins a new season of the best talk show on television.
This week, footage of Rock's visit to the Republican National Convention in Philadelphia and his grass roots efforts to "Free Bobby Brown" from a Florida jail after the erstwhile singer turned inmate's latest bout with the law.
If ABC was glitter and NBC was substance, Fox tried to impress the critics with both as it trotted out two days worth of very fancy food and a line-up heavy on new shows for the fall season. Gail Berman, the new Fox Network president, swore that the crash and burn of several predecessors didn't faze her at all. But the death of sex-and-angst dramas "Beverly Hills 90210" and "Party of Five" may have, so Fox is banking on two dysfunctional family sitcoms, "Titus" and "Malcolm in the Middle."
Also returning next season is "X-Files," with less Duchovny and more Robert Patrick ("Terminator 2"), who will be joining the cast as FBI Inspector John Doggett. Other forays into the paranormal include "Freaky Links," starring Ethan Embry ("Can't Hardly Wait") and "Night Visions," a "Twilight Zone"-style anthology series.
"Visions" co-creators Dan Angel and Billy Brown were on hand to tell scary stories at a lunch complete with flickering votives and mini-grave centerpieces. Later, "Dark Angel" producers introduced 19-year-old star Jessica Alba while co-creator James Cameron answered questions via satellite from a "secret location" (where he's probably honeymooning with new wife Suzy Amis).
Another cast of sexy young things appears in Darren Star's "The $treet," which promises to be a PG-13, male "Sex and the City" (another Star production) with three bonafide movie stars -- Tom Everett Scott ("That Thing You Do"), Jennifer Connelly ("Waking the Dead") and Adam Goldberg ("Saving Private Ryan"). "Ally McBeal" creator David E. Kelly also introduced his new ensemble drama "Boston Public," about improbably attractive school teachers.
Reporters grilled John Goodman and producers Bonnie and Terry Turner about changes in their new untitled show and wondered whether Goodman would bring "gay characteristics" to his character, a divorced gay dad who returns to Beantown after living in L.A.
Then there was a presentation on "The Tick," wherein Patrick Warburton (Elaine's boyfriend Puddy on "Seinfeld") plays the live-action version of the big blue animated hero.
Fox's only foray into reality TV this year is "American High," a show that follows real students in a middle-class Chicago suburb. One of the students, Morgan Moss, vied to become the next Puck (of "The Real World" renown), declaring: "I am a new breed of human being."
Moss and fellow students Robby Nathan and Sarah Mages looked appropriately Hollywood at Fox's starry closing bash, held at Yamashiro, a Japanese restaurant in the Hollywood Hills. Bart and Homer didn't show, but Rashida Jones (Quincy's daughter), Calista Flockhart, Goodman, Alba and other network stars (and stars-to-be) sake-bombed their way through the night's celebration.
"The Green Mile" premiere Monday night was accompanied by all of the fantastical effects, glitz and star power a possible Oscar contender deserves.
Director Frank Darabont returns after five years ("Shawshank Redemption") to bring Stephen King's 1996 best-selling serialized novel to the big screen.
"This is really exciting," said Darabont. "It took me this long to make another movie. I was waiting to fall in love with a story again, enough so I would go through the anguish of directing a movie. Thankfully, Stephen King gave me exactly that story."
Set on death row in a Southern prison in 1935, Tom Hanks stars as Paul Edgecomb. In flashbacks, Edgecomb recounts his tour of duty watching over a series of convicted killers awaiting execution in the electric chair.
"Stephen King wrote something that is quite in the realm of fanciful there in 1935," said Hanks. "If anybody is looking for a hard, grim, edgy, realistic look at what it's like to be on death row in a prison, I don't think they should come to 'Green Mile.'"
What audiences should look forward to are the scene-stealing performances by larger-than-life actor Michael Clarke Duncan ("Armageddon").
In his first starring role, Duncan plays John Coffey, a 7-foot inmate convicted of murdering two young girls. Beyond Coffey's massive appearance and simple nature, he possesses a prodigious and mystical gift that alters the life of anyone he touches.
On the red carpet, Duncan was responsible for also stealing most of the red carpet dazzle and Oscar buzz.
"It's amazing that people would equate Oscar talk with Michael Clarke Duncan," said Duncan. "Six years ago, I was digging ditches for the gas company. To hear Oscar talk is like a dream come true. This is just wonderful. I feel like a 6'5" 325lb. Cinderella," he said.
At the premiere in Westwood, Tom Hanks arrived arm-in-arm with wife Rita Wilson ("The Story of Us."). Hanks sported a burly beard, and Wilson looked hotter than ever in leather and crushed velvet.
"Green Mile" co-star Bonnie Hunt, who plays Hanks' wife in the film, discussed some of the challenges posed by her saucy love scenes with Hanks.
"It's the easiest job I've ever had," said Hunt. "She's (Wilson) very jealous of me, by the way. Actually, Rita requested I play the part so he would look forward to going home to her," she quipped.
Despite the premiere never turning into a Jerry Springer episode, celebrities such as Holly Robinson ("For Your Love"), Rick Fox (Los Angeles Lakers) and director Quentin Tarantino ("Jackie Brown") walked the red carpet in praise of the Oscar-caliber cast and writer King.
"He's (King) a terrific writer," said Tarantino. "He writes great characters, characters that actors want to play, and he's got a great imagination."
The film's all-star cast also includes James Cromwell ("Babe"), Michael Jeter ("Patch Adams"), Graham Green ("Dances with Wolves"), Harry Dean Stanton ("The Man Who Cried") and David Morse ("Crazy in Alabama"). Audiences can walk "The Green Mile" starting today.