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.
The British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) recognized some of the year’s best films on Sunday. "Gladiator" was chosen best film, and "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" took away best foreign-language film honors. Each of these Oscar contenders received four BAFTA awards in total.
Producers Douglas Wick, David Franzoni and Branko Lustig accepted the best film award for "Gladiator," praising director Ridley Scott during their acceptance speech, who lost out on the best director prize to Ang Lee for "Tiger."
Besides best foreign film and best director, "Crouching Tiger" also won for music (Tan Dun) and costume design (Tim Yip). Of BAFTA and the United Kingdom, Lee said: "You've always been great to me. This is like a second home to me now."
“Gladiator” also won the Orange Audience Award for most popular film of 2000. Scott thanked DreamWorks and Universal for their courage in backing a $100 million film in a genre that hadn't been touched for 30 years. "It is especially good to win this on my home turf as I spend so much time in the United States," Scott said during his acceptance speech. "I am absolutely thrilled."
Besides the BAFTA honor for best film, "Gladiator" also picked up awards for cinematography (John Mathieson), production design (Arthur Max) and editing (Pietro Scalia).
British effort "Billy Elliot" won three awards, including best British film, best actor (Jamie Bell) and best supporting actress for Julie Walters.
Julia Roberts was named best actress for her performance in the title role of "Erin Brockovich." Presenter Hugh Grant, and co-star in "Notting Hill," picked up the award for the absentee actress.
Best original screenplay and best sound awards went to Cameron Crowe’s "Almost Famous." Crowe's wife, Nancy Wilson, accepted his award, saying that Crowe was unable to attend the event as a double ear infection prevented him from flying. "He meant this movie as a love letter from his heart to music," Wilson said.
Steven Soderbergh's "Traffic" also won two awards, for adapted screenplay (Stephen Gaghan) and supporting actor (Benicio Del Toro).
Veteran casting director Mary Selway was given the Michael Balcon Award for her outstanding contribution to cinema. Actor Albert Finney was presented with a British Film Academy Fellowship for lifetime achievement, receiving a standing ovation.
The complete list of winners:
THE ACADEMY FELLOWSHIP: Albert Finney
THE MICHAEL BALCON AWARD for outstanding British Contribution to Cinema: Mary Selway
THE ALEXANDER KORDA AWARD for outstanding British Film of the Year: "Billy Elliot"
BEST FILM: "Gladiator"
THE DAVID LEAN AWARD for Achievement in Direction: Ang Lee, "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon"
SCREENPLAY (Original): Cameron Crowe, "Almost Famous"
SCREENPLAY (Adapted): Stephen Gaghan, "Traffic"
PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTRESS in a leading role: Julia Roberts, "Erin Brockovich"
PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTOR in a leading role: Jamie Bell, "Billy Elliot"
PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTRESS in a supporting role: Julie Walters, "Billy Elliot"
PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTOR in a supporting role: Benicio Del Toro, "Traffic"
FILM NOT IN THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE: "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" (Bill Hong/Hsu Li Kong/Ang Lee )
THE ANTHONY ASQUITH AWARD for achievement in Film Music: Tan Dun, "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon"
THE CARL FOREMAN AWARD for Most Promising Newcomer to British Film: Pawel Pawlikowski
CINEMATOGRAPHY: John Mathieson, "Gladiator"
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Arthur Max, "Gladiator"
COSTUME DESIGN: Tim Yip, "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon"
EDITING: Pietro Scalia, "Gladiator"
SOUND: Jeff Wexler/D.M. Hemphill/Rick Kline/Paul Massey/Mike Wilhoit, "Almost Famous"
ACHIEVEMENT IN SPECIAL VISUAL EFFECTS: Stefen Fangmeier/John Frazier/Walt Conti/Habib Zargarpour/Tim Alexander, "The Perfect Storm"
MAKE UP/HAIR: Rick Baker/Kazuhirop Tsuji/Tony G./Gal Ryan/Sylvia Nava, "How the Grinch Stole Christmas"
SHORT FILM Gary Holding/Justine Leahy/Tinge Krishnan, "Shadowscan"
SHORT ANIMATION: Claire Jennings/Willem Thijssen/Michael Dudok de Wit, "Father and Daughter"
ORANGE AUDIENCE AWARD: "Gladiator"
Hollywood opens its presents early this weekend with the arrival of a few deluxe-wrapped packages full of good holiday cheer.
"Anna and the King," a richly decorated version of the classic musical "The King and I" sans the music, should pique the interests of romantic moviegoers young and old. It stars Academy Award winner Jodie Foster and Hong Kong action icon Chow Yun-Fat.
Gifts for the kids come in the form of the studio movies "Stuart Little" and "Bicentennial Man." Based on a beloved children's novel, "Stuart Little" tells the live-action adventures of a pet mouse, with a voice provided by Michael J. Fox. In "Bicentennial Man," Robin Williams undergoes a different kind of transformation, playing an android who learns what it means to be human. "Mrs. Doubtfire" director Chris Columbus helms the film.
Other high-profile holiday films opening in limited release include "Simpatico," a drama featuring A-list talents Jeff Bridges, Sharon Stone and Nick Nolte, and "Topsy Turvy," a film about the lives of entertainers William Schwenck Gilbert and Arthur Sullivan, directed by acclaimed filmmaker Mike Leigh ("Secrets & Lies," "Naked").
Below is a list of all the week's releases.
Opening Wednesday, Dec. 15
"Simpatico" (Fine Line) -- Jeff Bridges plays an affluent horse breeder whose reputation threatens to go to ruin when his penitent ex-partner played by Nick Nolte resurfaces to expose a horseracing scam the two masterminded many years ago. Albert Finney plays the innocent man who took the fall for their stint. Sharon Stone co-stars as Bridges' wife.
"Topsy Turvy" (USA) -- Acclaimed director Mike Leigh leaps back in time to enter the lives of two Londoners who were marked by extraordinary creativity: William Schwenck Gilbert and Arthur Sullivan. The film traces the bumpy collaboration of the writer-composer team after a period of declined popularity and creative impasse. Jim Broadbent and Allan Corduner co-star.
Opening Friday, Dec. 17
"Anna and the King" (Fox) -- Based on the diaries of Anna Leonowens, this film casts Jodie Foster as a British governess headed for Thailand to care for the children of the country's king, played by Chow Yun-Fat. By the end of her stay, she's managed to touch the lives of both the children and their father.
"Bicentennial Man" (Buena Vista) -- Robin Williams plays an android who is purchased as a household robot to perform menial tasks. His proud owners quickly learn that they don't have an ordinary robot as Williams begins to exhibit emotions and creative thought. Sam Neill, Oliver Platt and Embeth Davidtz co-star.
"Stuart Little" (Sony) -- Based on the classic children's novel by E.B. White, this animated feature combines live-action with state-of-the-art visual-effects technology to bring the lovable rodent and his adopted human family to life. Geena Davis and Hugh Laurie co-star. Michael J. Fox, Jennifer Tilly and Bruno Kirby provide voices for the animated characters.
"The Emperor and the Assassin" (SPC) -- Renowned Chinese director Chen Kaige and actress Gong Li reunite in this tale of power and ruthless ambition set in feudal China. Li Xuejian portrays a power-hungry king obsessed with becoming the first emperor of unified China, and Li co-stars as his devoted concubine abetting him in the enterprise.
"Magnolia" (New Line) -- "Boogie Nights" director Paul Anderson heads back to the San Fernando Valley for this modern-day tale of intersecting stories that feature "Boogie" alums Julianne Moore, Luis Guzman, William H. Macy, John C. Reilly and Philip Baker Hall. Oh, and megastar Tom Cruise.
"Onegin" (Samuel Goldwyn) -- Set in 1820s Russia, Ralph Fiennes stars as a dashing aristocrat who's brought to the countryside through his inheritance of a large estate. There he acquaints Liv Tyler, a doting young woman whose love he refuses. Six years later, the two meet again on vastly different terms -- he's fallen obsessively in love with Tyler while she's comfortably married to another man.
"Ride With the Devil" (USA) -- Directed by Ang Lee, this Civil War drama stars Tobey Maguire, Skeet Ulrich and Jeffrey Wright as three friends who are avid supporters of the Confederate cause. Fighting as civilians, the three men pledge their allegiance to the South by killing unsuspecting Union soldiers. Singer-songwriter Jewel makes her acting debut as their love interest.
"The Cider House Rules" (Miramax) -- Directed by Lasse Hallstrom ("What's Eating Gilbert Grape") and adapted from John Irving's best-selling novel, this coming-of-age story casts Tobey Maguire as a young man who has spent his entire youth in an orphanage. Hungry for experience, he sets out to explore the world outside. Charlize Theron and Michael Caine co-star.