Bandits was robbed!
Hurt by crisis news reports on television Friday, the adult appeal MGM comedy failed to break into first place as insiders anticipated. Expectations were strong that Bandits would open atop the chart after its very successful sneaks a week earlier and given its high flyer power on Hollywood's advance radar screen.
Despite Bandits' strong buzz, its launch suffered from widespread fears throughout the country about possible terrorist actions this weekend as well as from television reports of anthrax scares in several states. That coverage -- which some observers have taken to calling "the CNN effect" -- appears to have resulted in many adult moviegoers, who might otherwise have bought tickets to Bandits, opting to stay home this weekend and watch the news. That cut sharply into Bandits' take -- especially on Friday -- in key markets like New York, Philadelphia, Washington, D.C. and Boston.
At the same time, Warner Bros.' tough police corruption drama Training Day starring Denzel Washington held up very well and had an advantage in its strong urban appeal. Training edged out Bandits for the top spot on the chart, nailing down in its second week about $13.55 million vs. Bandits' haul of about $13.46 million.
Ticket sales for key films this weekend were up modestly from last year by about 4.4 percent, but fell about 7.4 percent from the previous weekend this year.
THE TOP TEN
Warner Bros. R rated police corruption drama Training Day continued to patrol first place in its second week with a still forceful ESTIMATED $13.55 million (-40 percent) at 2,712 theaters (theater count unchanged; $4,994 per theater). Its cume is approximately $43.6 million, heading for $75 million-plus in domestic theaters.
Training's average per theater was the highest for any film this weekend.
Directed by Antoine Fuqua, the Warner Bros. presentation in association with Village Roadshow Pictures and NPV Entertainment stars Denzel Washington and Ethan Hawke.
"We had another good weekend on Training Day ," Warner Bros. Distribution executive vice president and general sales manager Jeff Goldstein said Sunday morning. "It's only off 40 percent. That's just what you would hope for."
MGM and Hyde Park Entertainment's PG-13 rated comedy Bandits kicked off in second place to a sexy ESTIMATED $13.46 million at 3,207 theaters ($4,198 per theater).
Directed by Barry Levinson, it stars Bruce Willis, Billy Bob Thornton and Cate Blanchett.
"I think you were right when you said that," MGM worldwide theatrical marketing and distribution president Bob Levin said Sunday morning when I told him I'd predicted a first place finish for Bandits.
"We all feel that that's where we were. And then, here you are watching TV waiting for your first early matinee grosses to come in (on Friday) and, oh, there goes Bruce Willis' Good Morning America (promotional appearance). And then you flip over and Regis and Kelly are still on and then in the middle of (that show) where he's supposed to be (there was an interruption for breaking news)."
After that, he continued, "It just became an onslaught of a mixture of anthrax here, anthrax there stories and rumors, validations, news conferences and then (Attorney General John) Ashcroft every once in a while telling people there's a real serious threat for the next three days. I think that cooked up the stew because every indication was that we'd open better. In fact, every indication I think that Disney had (about Corky Romano) and every indication that Miramax had (about Iron Monkey) on their two movies is they'd open better."
Assessing what happened, Levin said, "I just think we took the severest hit by everything we measure (being) an adult comedy. Our exits say about 75 percent of the audience that showed up was over 25. We know from our sneaks (the previous weekend) that was also true. We know from everything that we're an adult movie that plays exactly to the kind of people who are most sensitive to current events versus Corky being a youth comedy and Training Day being an urban, gritty movie. So we were probably hit more than anyone."
Bandits' New York grosses were hit very hard, on Friday, Levin said, pointing out that, "We did more in those matinees in (small towns in) Texas than we did in some of the key houses in Manhattan. That's how severe Manhattan was (affected). And you know, there were other things going on (that also reflected the public's concern about going out this weekend). The Brave's game had 70 percent attendance. The Rose Bowl (UCLA vs. Washington) wasn't filled yesterday.
"And then we had these huge unexpected bumps (on Saturday vs Friday). You know, you look at a movie like this and you'd say Friday to Saturday (should be in the) 20-25 percent range in the bump. New York came back 62 percent. D.C. was 60 percent. (But) these enormous bumps were still not bumping enough to what you really need to right the ship. We saw ourselves last night probably get a number that we would have been happy getting Friday night under normal circumstances and we filled out from there. Although Saturday showed signs that it bounced back, it just didn't come back strong in volume. It came back in percentages very, very strong. But Friday was a wipe out for us."
Looking ahead, Levin noted, "We have strong word of mouth and I think we're, for the time being, into a new world of movie marketing, distribution and opening and that can be uprighted by any change in what the public needs to know and how they respond to it. I think this is a sign of that. It's like we all understand (the effect of) blizzards or earthquakes -- 'Oh, L.A. had an earthquake so no one went to the movies.' Or, 'Oh, the mid-west got wiped out (by a blizzard).' This is like a self-selecting blizzard. You can get out of the house if you want to, but you don't want to.
Buena Vista/Touchstone's PG-13 rated comedy Corky Romano opened in third place to an encouraging ESTIMATED $9.3 million at 2,062 theaters ($4,510 per theater). The film reportedly only cost $11 million to produce.
Directed by Rob Prits and produced by Robert Simonds, it stars Chris Kattan.
"Bob Simonds is probably one of those producers who has more films that get into profit than anybody else," Buena Vista Distribution president Chuck Viane said Sunday morning. "He makes them for a price. He makes them for an audience obviously. And he did very well because what I'm seeing in the CinemaScore is that he got an A from the teens under 21 for males and an A- for females and everything else was a B, which I think just goes to show you how much people are dying for comedy out there right now."
Given the film's low production cost, Viane laughed, "It'll take me about another week to turn this picture into a profit (position). With the studios having tough times like everybody else, it's nice to know you can walk one into a profit real quick and follow up with Monsters, Inc. and do the same thing."
Miramax's PG-13 rated romantic comedy Serendipity fell two pegs to fourth place in its second week with a still attractive ESTIMATED $9.0 million (-32 percent) at 2,603 theaters (+2 theaters; $3,458 per theater). Its cume is approximately $26.6 million.
Directed by Peter Chelsom, it stars John Cusack and Kate Beckinsale.
"It was a great hold for us and we're real happy," Miramax senior vice president, marketing David Kaminow, said Sunday morning. "It does seem to be the right movie for now. It's really the only romantic comedy that's still out there. We'll face a little competition this weekend from Riding In Cars With Boys, but there's room for both of us."
20th Century Fox's release of Regency Enterprises and Village Roadshow Pictures' R rated thriller Don't Say a Word fell two rungs to fifth in its third week with an okay ESTIMATED $6.78 million (-31 percent) at 2,728 theaters (-114 theaters; $2,485 per theater). Its cume is approximately $41.8 million, heading for a domestic theatrical gross in the mid-$60 millions.
Directed by Gary Fleder and produced by Arnon Milchan, Arnold Kopelson and Anne Kopelson, Word stars Michael Douglas.
"The 31 percent drop bodes well," Fox distribution president Bruce Snyder said Sunday morning. "It had the best bump from Friday to Saturday. I think Don't Say A Word's kind of gotten its own place in the market right now. (It was) up 60 percent from Friday to Saturday. Nothing's near that except for (Disney's kid appeal) Max Keeble in terms of percentage pop. So I think Don't Say A Word has found a groove even with Training Day and Bandits opening. I think it's going to be around."
Miramax's PG-13 rated martial arts adventure Iron Monkey opened in sixth place to a brassy ESTIMATED $6 million at 1,225 theaters ($4,898 per theater).
Directed by Yuen Wo Ping, it stars Yu Rong-Guang.
"This is one of those movies that you do because it's a labor of love," Miramax's David Kaminow said Sunday morning, referring to the company's release of the well regarded 1993 Hong Kong film which has never had a U.S. theatrical release.
"It's a labor of love for the company -- like when we restored El Cid and Belle De Jour and things of that nature. This is really sort of, as we like to say, a gift for moviegoers who appreciate that sort of undiscovered gems. These movies are modestly profitable. It's not about that, it's really about the cinematic aspects of it all. We're working on a Cinema Paradiso restoration, as well. This seems to be something that we're going to start focus on in addition to our other (releases), just having these restorations and bringing back movies that the public may not be that aware of and that from a cinematic standpoint are of some importance."
Paramount and Village Roadshow Pictures' PG-13 youth appeal comedy Zoolander slipped three slots to seventh place in its third week with a less funny ESTIMATED $5.1 million (-46 percent) at 2,522 theaters (+2 theaters; $2,022 per theater). Its cume is approximately $35.8 million, heading for $45 million in domestic theaters.
Directed by and starring Ben Stiller, it was produced by Scott Rudin, Ben Stiller and Stuart Cornfeld.
20th Century Fox and Regency's R rated thriller Joy Ride fell three pegs to eighth place in its second week with an unexciting ESTIMATED $4.87 million (-34 percent) at 2,522 theaters (+25 theaters; $1,931 per theater). Its cume is approximately $14.7 million, heading for $25 million in domestic theaters.
Directed by John Dahl, it stars Steve Zahn, Paul Walker and LeeLee Sobieski.
Buena Vista/Disney's PG rated comedy Max Keeble's Big Move slipped three rungs to ninth place in its second week with a slow ESTIMATED $4.0 million (-26 percent) at 2,045 theaters ($1,956 per theater). Its cume is approximately $10.9 million.
Directed by Tim Hill, it stars Alex D. Linz, Larry Miller, Jamie Kennedy, Nora Dunn and Robert Carradine.
Rounding out the Top Ten was Warner Bros. and Castle Rock Entertainment's third week of the PG-13 rated drama Hearts In Atlantis, which was seventh a week earlier, with a quiet ESTIMATED $2.79 million (-45 percent) at 2,010 theaters
(theater count unchanged; $1,386 per theater). Its cume is approximately $20.7 million, heading for $25 million in domestic theaters.
Directed by Scott Hicks, it stars Anthony Hopkins.
This weekend also saw the arrival of Universal's R rated drama Mulholland Drive. to a very promising ESTIMATED $0.71 million at 68 theaters ($10,412 per theater). Its cume after five days is approximately $0.79 million.
Written and directed by David Lynch, it stars Justin Theroux and Naomi Watts.
Paramount Classics' R rated drama My First Mister arrived to a soft ESTIMATED $0.1 million at 33 theaters ($3,182 per theater).
Directed by Christine Lahti, it stars Albert Brooks and Leelee Sobieski.
This weekend saw no national sneak previews.
There was no significant action on the expansion front this weekend.
Universal International reported Sunday morning that it enjoyed a strong opening this weekend in the U.K. for American Pie 2 this weekend. Pie 2 placed first by a huge margin with a 50 percent market share. For Friday-Saturday, the film took in $5.6 million in the U.K. and with Sunday's grosses still to come, it looms as one of the country's biggest opening weekends this year. Universal said Pie 2 is running 30 percent ahead of Jurassic Park III, 103 percent ahead of Pearl Harbor and 173 percent ahead of the original American Pie.
In Germany, Pie 2 held on to the top spot on the chart for the third week in a row with a three-day gross of $2.4 million. Its 17 day cume in Germany is $21.7 million, which the studio said is 25 percent ahead of Pearl Harbor, 45 percent ahead of the first American Pie, 68 percent ahead of Jurassic Park III and 66 percent ahead of The Mummy Returns.
In Austria, Pie 2 was No. 1 in its third week with a two day gross of $0.22 million, putting it 282 percent ahead of this weekend's opening of America's Sweethearts. After 16 days in theaters, Pie 2's cume in Austria is $2.4 million, which is the same as Pearl Harbor, 50 percent bigger than The Mummy Returns and 148 percent bigger than Jurassic Park III.
Overall, Pie 2 was the top grossing film at the international box office this weekend. Its international box office total to date is $38 million with 30 countries representing about 65 percent of the international market still to open.
"We are thrilled with the fantastic opening of American Pie 2 in the UK and its continued amazing performance in Germany and Austria," Randy Greenberg, senior vice president, international theatrical marketing & distribution for Universal Pictures, said Sunday morning. "Audiences around the globe have embraced these characters again and are going to the movies to laugh."
Universal also reported that in Spain this weekend The Fast and the Furious enjoyed a two day gross of $0.57 million, down only 7 percent from its opening the previous weekend. Fast was third in the market, behind the sixth week of The Others and the opening of Moulin Rouge. Fast's nine-day cume is $2 million.
In its fifth week in the U.K. Fast had a two-day gross of $0.28 million. Its cume after 30 days in the U.K. is $8.8 million.
In Australia, Fast's fourth weekend gross was $0.3 million with a 25 day cume of $4.7 million. The film's international cume is $35 million with 18 countries still to open.
Universal's release of Bridget Jones's Diary ranked fourth in its eighth week Down Under with a two day gross of $0.326 million, down only 14 percent, and a 51-day cume of $18.8 million. Bridget passed $155 million at the international box office this weekend with 10 countries still to open.
Key films -- those grossing more than $500,000 -- took in approximately $80.38 million, up about 4.41 per cent from the comparable weekend last year when key films grossed $76.98 million.
This weekend's key film gross was down about 7.43 percent from last weekend of this year, when key films took in approximately $86.82 million.
Last year, Universal's second week of Meet the Parents was first with $21.17 million at 2,615 theaters ($8,095 per theater); and Buena Vista's third week of Remember the Titans was second with $13.06 million at 2,726 theaters ($4,790 per theater). The top two films one year ago grossed $34.3 million. This year, the top two films grossed an ESTIMATED $27.0 million.
A dirty cop and a pair of nice-guy bank robbers set out to prove this weekend that crime does indeed pay.
The $22.5 million collared last weekend by Training Day represents Denzel Washington's biggest opening weekend to date. The highly charged tale of police corruption--featuring Washington in a rare villainous turn--continued to play well during the week, earning $28.6 million through Wednesday. Accordingly, Washington should have the muscle to stop his Siege co-star Bruce Willis from stealing off with the box office crown.
Directed by Barry Levinson, Bandits casts Willis and Billy Bob Thornton as affable crooks who gain celebrity for their unusually method of robbing banks. They hold hostage the bank manager the night before a heist, eat dinner with manager and his family, spend the night at his home, and then force him to let them into the bank in the morning.
Previously, Willis and Thornton's efforts to save the world resulted in 1998's Armageddon, which earned $201 million in the process.
Breaking into banks also should be a profitable venture for Willis and Thornton, though not much as Armageddon or Willis' The Sixth Sense, which made $293.5 million. Bandits' success will likely mirror that of Willis' recent hit comedies rather than his celebrated forays into science fiction and the supernatural. The Whole Nine Yards, with Willis as a hitman, claimed $13.7 million in 1999 and eventually made $57.2 million. Disney's The Kid opened in July 2000 with $12.6 million, with summer audiences pushing it to a $69.6 million gross.
At least one person needs Bandits to enjoy a long and sustained run, and that's Levinson. The Rain Man Oscar winner last tasted success with Wag the Dog, the Hollywood satire about a war concocted to conceal a presidential scandal. Wag the Dog, of course, had the good fortune to open wide in January 1998 just as Monicagate captured a nation's attention and President Clinton had launched military action against terrorist targets in Afghanistan and Sudan. The result: a $43 million hit. Since then, Levinson's directed possibly the worst adaptation of a Michael Crichton novel ever, the waterlogged Sphere, which earned a paltry $37.2 million. Liberty Heights, the fourth of Levinson's semi-autobiographical Baltimore-set comedy-dramas, made $3.7 million in early 2000. Levinson's barely released An Everlasting Piece resulted in a lawsuit by its producer, Jerome O'Connor, who claimed that DreamWorks buried the Irish comedy at the request of the British government because of its thorny politics.
Who is Corky Romano? So read the teaser posters for Chris Kattan's new comedy, posters that also prompt the question: Who cares about Corky Romano? Kattan is the latest Saturday Night Live jokester to try his luck as a movie star. It's taken a while for former SNLers Adam Sandler, Rob Schneider and David Spade to establish their silver-screen credentials, so Kattan isn't likely to enjoy instant success. Will Ferrell, the only current SNLer to enjoy a somewhat thriving Hollywood career, seems to have done so by virtue of appearing in anything and everything.
Ferrell and Kattan did dance with disaster with the awful SNL skit-inspired A Night at the Roxbury, which made $30.3 million in the fall of 1998. Kattan's track record also includes the ensemble horror yarn House on Haunted Hill, which made $40.8 million in the fall of 1999, and Monkeybone, whose $5.4 million gross qualifies it as this year's biggest flop.
With Corky Romano already earning dire reviews, and stiff competition in the form of Ben Stiller's still-thriving fashion industry satire Zoolander ($30.2 million through Wednesday), Kattan shouldn't hand that letter of resignation just yet to SNL executive producer Lorne Michaels.
The surprise martial arts smash Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon no doubt prompted Miramax to reissue 1993's Iron Monkey, directed by Crouching Tiger action choreographer Yuen Wo Ping. Such releases tend to fare poorly, as witnessed by Miramax's previous attempts to bring to America those annoyingly dubbed versions of Jackie Chan's Hong Kong classics. Last fall's The Legend of Drunken Master, for example, staggered to a pitiful $11.5 million. Iron Monkey does have the advantage of being subtitled--which certainly enhanced Crouching Tiger's statue with the arthouse crowd--but it does lack the presence of a Jackie Chan, Jet Li or Chow Yun-Fat.
Miramax must make do with the popularity of Serendipity, which should enjoy a long and lasting affair with audiences looking for a romantic getaway from the U.S. bombing of Afghanistan. Through Wednesday, John Cusack and Kate Beckinsale have wooed $16.5 million in sales. Beckinsale's Pearl Harbor may have made more on its opening day, but no one went to see the expensive World War II epic for its romantic interludes. Serendipity is outpacing Cusack's bittersweet High Fidelity, which opened in March 2000 with $6.4 million at almost 1,200 theaters and sung its way to $27.2 million. Serendipity does have the advantage of now being in 2,600 theaters.
Don't Say a Word should continue to lose its audience to Training Day and soon to Bandits. Michael Douglas enjoyed his biggest opening weekend gross with Don't Say a Word, but the white-collar thriller won't stand out as one of his most memorable in terms of box office. Having collected $34.3 million through Wednesday, Don't Say a Word looks set to surpass The Game ($48.2 million) but will fail to out do A Perfect Murder ($67.6 million). That's a far cry from Basic Instinct's $117.7 million or Disclosure's $83 million.
Leelee Sobieski certainly learned her lesson about starring in two very disposable and oft-delayed teen-targeted thrillers in a row. The Duel-like Joy Ride, costarring Paul Walker and Steve Zahn, spluttered its way to a $7.3 million opening and has just $9.3 million through Wednesday. That's somewhat better than Sobieski's The Glass House, which opened after last month's terrorist attacks to a very weak $5.7 million and has since collected $16.6 million. Sobieski returns this weekend--and clearly not soon enough--to the arthouse circuit with My First Mister costarring Albert Brooks, a generation-bending variation of The Odd Couple.
Seems the kids failed to take much notice of Max Keeble's Big Move. Keeble has pocketed $6.6 million to date, and will likely end up as filler on the Disney Channel much sooner than later.
Hearts in Atlantis will join The Shawshank Redemption as another underachiever based on one of Stephen King's more mature tales. Shawshank managed to make its unremarkable $28.2 million solely on the strength of its modest Oscar campaign. With its less-than-enthusiastic reviews and $17.6 million gross, the supernatural Anthony Hopkins vehicle will have a tough time climbing to the same lowly height.
Barring a last-minute rally, summer holdovers Rush Hour 2 and The Others could finally drop out of the Top 10 this weekend. Rush Hour 2 ranks as the year's second-highest grossing film, with $221.9 through Wednesday.
The Others remains one of the year's biggest surprises, having enjoyed a lengthy run thanks to its twists and turns. With $91.1 million through Wednesday, the modestly marketed ghost story swept past Nicole Kidman's other summer entry, the lavishly hyped, over-praised and commercially successful Moulin Rouge, with relatively ease. Divorce has obviously been good to Kidman, at least professionally.